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Released: 2002, Sanctuary
I had some apprehension reviewing this disc. Unfortunately, I think I let myself be influenced by early reviews of this. A number of friends and reviewers that I generally trust were all over the map on this CD. Some hated it with the passion of thousand fiery suns. Others praised it the moon and beyond. So many conflicting reports I was unsure what to expect. However, I knew that Tate’s first solo endeavor would inspire love/hate reactions that only really talented artists can evoke.
From the top, the cover is dull and packaging is dull. It does however reflect the mellow mood of the disc but I would have liked the inside back-tray shot on the cover better. Even though Tate did the production, the mix seems a tiny bit flat and in the midrange, except the vocals, which sound awesome. You can hear every nuance of Geoff’s magnificent voice, even down to the vibrations of his vocal chords… well...not really but pretty damn close. He rarely hits those notes as in the past but of course I did not expect him to on this, most mellow and introspective of solo works.
The songs are well composed, and flow along at a quite a slow pace. There are a number of unique and interesting sounds on this disc, many of them electronically derived no doubt. I have never heard the sound on the beginning of track six, “This Moment”. My favorite is track nine, “Off The TV” which is the most straight ahead guitar, drums and bass tune that comes closest to Queensryche, despite Tate’s fooling with effects on his voice and that electronic “beep-boop robot type noise that are sprinkled in the song. There are lots of neat sounds on this disc, viola, piano, acoustic guitar, lots of electronic type stuff as well. The guitars are very downplayed as are bass and drums.
Lyrically, Geoff seems to be in a good headspace. I mean, who wouldn’t be? A happy family man, fairly comfortable financially, I imagine, an artists with the freedom to create. After 20 years of hard work it sounds like he is enjoying life. The mood I get from many of the songs is one of…not happiness or joy but more complacent, contemplative contentment.
I’m so torn on this disc. In essence we have eleven Queensryche ballads of varying tempos and feels. OK. Let’s be clear. I like Queensryche ballads, but eleven songs worth? Personally I can tolerate mellow moments among my metal CD’s and perhaps to my own detriment I virtually NEVER listen to anything except hard rock and metal. This is not even a hard rock CD. If it did not have the Tate name attached I would not have listened to it or IF for some bizarre reason I did listen to this utterly mellow CD I would give it a zero. I’m warning you now if you are a full-on metal fan that does not like what Queensryche did after Empire, do not bother with this.
However, it IS Tate, that fact is undisputable. In a sense I feel obliged to give a better mark to the CD because it is Tate and his voice is so good. I really enjoy his voice and I like Queensryche ballads. The only reasonable mark I can give this to appease both sides of my feelings on this disc is 50%. Tate’s voice alone salvages this disc. If I had never heard of Geoff Tate or Queensryche and I heard this disc would it still get 2.5 out of 5 marks? We will never know, but I’m assuming most of our readers have heard of both, so the more adventurous people…go for it.
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