Finally, after months of anticipation we have in front of us the new album from heavy metal icons Queensryche. For those fans who have been craving to hear a new powerful Michael Wilton guitar riff, then wait no longer, because… well, this isn’t that Queensryche. This is the Queensryche featuring original lead vocalist Geoff Tate.
Yes, it can be a little confusing to be a Queensryche fan these days. But few other bands have been subject to more controversy lately than Queensryche. Following a string of albums that received an increasingly negative commercial and critical reception, numerous allegations erupted against Geoff Tate by the rest of the band, which ultimately resulted in the band splitting into two different lineups.
Personally I was curious to say the least to hear how this album would turn out. Normally when a lead vocalist is originally fired from a band, they move on to a new group, or continue to work on a solo career which Tate has already established. Instead, Geoff filed a lawsuit against his former band mates over ownership of the “Queensryche” name, compiled a new lineup comprised of all star musicians as well as long list of guest musicians, and raced straight into the studio to create this new album.
‘Frequency Unknown’ is a roller coaster ride of an album, that boasts several major highs and moderate lows. “Cold,” “The Hands of God,” and “The Weight Of The World” are a few songs that shows the band embracing their progressive metal side, and contain some bold elements of the classic Queensryche vibe. I know Geoff expresses a desire to expand upon this, but that iconic sound really isn’t something that needs to be tampered with. The second of the aforementioned tracks has an unignorable ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ theme, with Geoff nailing out such lyrics as “This is the day/ familiar voice on the phone: Are you ready?” It appears that the songwriting dynamic has returned, and it’s widely evident through songs such as these.
“Running Backwards” is built around a thrash metal-style guitar riff, comparable to that of late 90’s Judas Priest; a fitting comparison, considering it features former Priest lead guitarist K.K. Downing, who gives a formidable shredding guitar solo.
Out of the entire album, there are two songs in particular that seem very out of place. The first of the two is “Everything,” which to be honest sounds like a ‘Dedication To Chaos’ outtake; and “Dare,” which has Geoff almost rapping out explicit lyrics that seems directed at his former band mates.
Besides the 10 new compositions, ‘Frequency Unknown’ also has four bonus tracks, which are re-recordings of four Queensryche classics: “I Don’t Believe In Love,” “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Silent Lucidity.” There are some similarities to the original renditions, however Tate appears to face moderate difficulty matching the relatively high notes of the first recordings, which when backed by poor instrumental work and an overall rough production become instantly forgettable.
Granted it takes a few listens to get used to it, ‘Frequency Unknown’ for the most part is a somewhat strong album from this edition of Queensryche. As a Queensryche album, it definitely isn’t any ‘Empire,’ or even ‘Tribe,’ but it’s not completely terrible, either, and for fans of both versions of the band, it’s more than worth a listen. But the question remains as to whether or not it really deserves to be under the “Queensryche” name.