Queensryche – Frequency Unknown

Ok. I really wanted, I mean REALLY wanted to hate this album. From the not-so-subtle imagery of the cover ( a fist with rings bearing the letters F U? Come on!), to the snippets I’d heard on iTunes, I was ready to crucify this thing. But I can’t. It’s really not that bad.

The initial mix had Geoff Tate’s vocals buried somewhere near Jimmy Hoffa’s body, but after a tidal wave of complaints, Cleopatra Records hastily remixed the record just prior to the release date, and it makes a world of difference. Can he still sing? Yes. As high and as powerful as before? No. But we’ll come back to that.

Some of the songs are actually quite good. Again, not Queensryche-in-their-heyday-good, but the ideas and riffs are pretty close. “Cold”, the opening track and first single COULD have been a good one, along with “In The Hands Of God”. Both of these are better than any of Tate’s previous solo outings, and have the ‘Ryche sound.

“Give It To You” and “Dare” take repeated stabs at former bandmates, the latter being almost TOO blatant. It even features a xylophone…WTF?? “Slave” starts out with a great sound before choking on its own stupid chorus.

Other GOOD songs are “Running Backwards”, “Fallen”, and “The Weight Of the World” which features an amazing solo towards the end. I can’t even tell you whose it is, so many musicians have come and gone on this project.

But the biggest blunder, aside from the cover, and the jabs, is the decision to re-record four Queensryche classics: “I Don’t Believe In Love”, “Empire”, “Jet City Woman”, and “Silent Lucidity”. The vocals are flat, the songs tuned way down, the back-ups awful, and…No, Geoff. Just…no. The other things I might’ve overlooked, but major points get deducted here. Unforgivable.

As a stand-alone rock album, Frequency Unknown is pretty good, I must admit. Slapping the Queensryche moniker on it, however, really cheapens it.

STANDOUT TRACKS: “Cold”, “In the Hands Of God”, “The Weight Of the World”

RATING: 6/10

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