Friday, April 26, 2013
Operation: Mindcrime - Frequency Unknown (2013)
The break up between Geoff Tate and Queensrÿche has been more confusing and weird than a episode of the TV-series "Lost". Immediately, the legal process kicked in on who would keep the name Queensrÿche. In the waiting for a verdict, we have two different Queensrÿche out there. The original band with new singer Todd La Torre and the new band with Geoff Tate and his recruits (Rudy Sarzo, Bobby Blotzer, Glen Drover, Kelly Gray and Randy Gane). So yeah, it is a big soup that this break up has led to. If you ask me, I think that the original Queensrÿche did nothing wrong and that this band should be named something else. But until the 18th of November, we have two bands named Queensrÿche and the newer band have now released "Frequency Unknown".
The latest two album that Geoff Tate has released ("Dedicated To Chaos" with Queensrÿche and the solo album "Kings And Thieves") was terrible, so I had very low expectations for this record. But after listening to "Frequency Unknown", I was a little surprised that it was pretty decent. It is not an instant classic but it is clearly superior against its two predecessors. The main reason to why "Frequency Unknown" lifts is that it has some forward momentum and the instruments gets some room to shine, two big attributes that both "Dedicated To Chaos" and "Kings And Thieves" lacked. And it also feels like Geoff has found a new kindling fire that could spark into a flaming inferno in due time, but for now it is small and only helps to make Geoff Tate's voice sound fresh.
The music is, more or less, typical Queensrÿche. It is never ultra fast or super heavy, but it is easy digestive music that has small progressive intentions and an overall soothing mood, which works really nice for listening while you finish up some work or if you just want to chill. Playing this sort of music also comes with a risk. If it is too laid back, it will make the band seem lazy and not so impassioned. A good example for this blandness is "Life Without You". This song has no soul in it, there is no passion what so ever. Plain boring.
Fortunately, most of the songs in "Frequency Unknown" are actually quite pleasing and good. We have some great riffing in "Dare" and "Slave", some epicness in "In The Hands of God" and some emotions in "Cold" and "Fallen". It is almost like a time travel back to when Queensrÿche was at its prime. Despite that the amount of good songs are greater than bad songs, I feel that the overall album could have been better with some more work here and there, but it will do for now.
I should also mention that the special edition has four re-recorded songs from the Queensrÿche discography ("I Don't Believe In Love", "Empire", "Jet City Woman" and "Silent Lucidity"). I get that they are there to show what this new line up can do, but it is so unnecessary that you could just as well have put in silence in those tracks instead. I find no great difference from the original tracks and what is even worse, is that this could be a sign that Geoff actually thinks that this band is still going to be called Queensrÿche after the verdict. It is like putting up a huge middle finger against Geoff's former band mates. Not cool man.
"Frequency Unknown" is overall a pleasant surprise that restores some of the faith for Geoff Tate. But do not for the love of god think that this album is a new "Operation Mindcrime", it is an album that would count as above average and nothing more. The soul is there and the instruments gets their moments, but it is not a dazzling album that will blow down the rest of the competition. Later this year, the other band named Queensrÿche will release their new album and that album will show which side of the same coin is the better one. No matter who will win, Geoff has with "Frequency Unknown" showed that he still got some fight in him.
Songs worthy of recognition: In The Hands of God, Cold, Slave
Rating: 6,5/10 Frequencies