Released: 2013, Cleopatra Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Okay, now that I’ve recovered from my initial reaction to Taterÿche’s FREQUENCY UNKNOWN, let me elucidate as to why this album is so laughably bad.
First and foremost, please disregard any descriptions of FREQUENCY UNKNOWN as being “stupidly heavy”. FREQUENCY UNKNOWN has about as much in common with being “heavy” as the Hard Rock Café has with “hard rock” or edible cuisine. This is very much a Geoff Tate solo album and is remarkably similar in tone and attitude as KINGS & THIEVES or DEDICATED TO CHAOS (yes, that was Tate solo album, too). Upbeat, pseudo rough n' tumble rock riffs and pretentious songwriting that believes itself to be a lot more articulate and sophisticated than it really is are in abundance, and the only one who doesn’t seem to be in on the joke is poor Geoff himself.
Opening track “Cold” is actually a decent tune; a little laid back for an album opener, but it’s got some remnants of the old Queensrÿche DNA in it (some, don’t get excited). Which is why it’s the first single from the album and Tate’s promoting the hell out of it, because everything that follows is pretty unimpressive. “Dare” is a swoopy, funky tough guy jam that shows Geoff dropping the “F” bomb and puffin’ up on potential detractors. This is the same guy who wore nothing but a red banana hammock on stage during those awful cabaret shows. Now you’re a hardcore tough guy? Sorry, I don’t buy it. “Give it to You”, “Life Without You”, and “Fallen” are ready for radio power ballad pabulum, if it were twenty years ago and grunge never happened. And “Slave” sounds like late ‘90’s KISS, like CARNIVAL OF SOULS type. Y’know, when they got “gritty”? Yeah, it’s sad like that.
But what’s even sadder are the re-recordings of Queensrÿche classics. First of all, Tate’s publicly voiced his desire to distance himself from the band’s metal past, so to try and cash his chips on four of the band’s biggest hits seems a bit hypocritical. If he was really that confident about the material on FREQUENCY UNKNOWN, he should’ve let these new songs stand alone on their own merit. I guarantee you that these so-called bonus tracks will predicate most of the buying decisions surrounding the album. Secondly, Tate sounds noticeably strained, squeaky and off key. These tracks should be a total layup for the guy, especially with the studio trickery available these days. But as most fans are intimately familiar with the nuances of his vocal performance on the original versions of these tunes, his delivery here is nothing short of awkward.
And there’s the litany of super talented supporting musicians who participated in the recording of FREQUENCY UNKNOWN. Too many to list here individually, but Tate hired an army of qualified participants who do a bang up job respectively given the material they have to work with. Give them an “E” for effort, as they ably prove that a solid performance can provide some much needed damage control across a batch of mediocre compositions.
FREQUENCY UNKNOWN doesn’t come close to being the proper post-breakup Queensrÿche album that Tate had promised fans, and if you really thought that you were getting that - well, shame on you. And even had it been honestly delivered as the Tate solo album that it is, it’d still be just as worthy of cringes and criticisms. Band moniker aside, the songs on FREQUENCY UNKNOWN are out of date and out of touch; not even being interesting nostalgically. The Queensrÿche moniker is unfortunately a still profitable vehicle to drive attention to the guy’s musical indulgences, at least until Michael Wilton and Queensrÿche version 2.0 offer up an album for comparison. Ball’s in your court boys.
By the way, check out Tate’s version of the Queensrÿche website and enjoy the slideshow images in the background. It’s the perfect visual accompaniment to FREQUENCY UNKNOWN, thank me later.