Now that Frequency Unknown is about to be unleashed upon the world, the chances of the Queensrÿche with the most original members in its lineup against Tate have dwindled drastically. Because if American Soldier (2009) was the best thing both musically and lyrically released under that name since since Promised Land (1994), now Frequency Unknown makes even American Soldier seem half-hearted and incomplete.
The new album is many things, but predictable definitely isn’t one of them. Frequency Unknown’s best numbers – the ones that possess the ability to instantly spark discussions – “Dare” and “Slave,” are actually a cleaner and more developed vision for the alternative metal direction Tate had taken with his latest solo effort. In the middle section of “Dare” there is a Soundgarden-like guitar motif trying to break out before an even more stubborn riff brings you back to where the song started. “Give It To You,” the album’s most distinct ballad (because “The Weight of the World” is so much more than that), summons some very strong emotions – of the kind, that only the most passionate rock music can make you feel. In a complete opposite to every other song on the album, its fastest (and shortest) track “Running Backwards” is a reminder of early Queensrÿche’s NWOBHM roots – Tate sings the chorus in a Bruce Dickinson fashion before a very important guest appearance by KK Downing, who manages to add some of his sharp, yet elegant playing style.
And while the other camp, led by Todd La Torre (of Crimson Glory fame, for fuck’s sake), seems to be going for the oldschool – at least judging by the first single “Redemption” – Tate has managed to find a comfort zone, marked by the style Queensrÿche had established during the 90’s: an aristocratic blend of heavy metal, prog and hard rock. This is how a song like “In The Hands Of God” is born – with dark verses, sporadic orchestrations and a gigantic, explosive chorus reminding you why numerous bands, from Kamelot to Nevermore, had drawn inspiration from Queensrÿche through the years. And then comes the closer “The Weight Of The World”: the best example for the scope of the creative thought put into Frequency Unknown, making you realize this album is much more than a battle. This is the battle of Tate’s life.
And on top of that, Frequency Unknown is also something more. This is Geoff Tate’s apology – not towards his former colleagues (just take a look at the cover!), but to the fans. It is also a proof that Tate’s hasn’t forgotten what Queensrÿche is all about, and that he is willing to fight for it until the end. To the very last drop of blood, actually.
Alexander Radichev Metal Hammer – Bulgaria
Sale Price: $14.98