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2.8 out of 5 stars
Kings & Thieves
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168 of 191 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Geoff Tate was once considered one of the most gifted and legendary singers in hard rock and heavy metal music. But Tate has done the best he can to distance himself from those labels in recent years and his latest offering, Kings & Thieves shows why -- he can't (or won't) SING any longer.

Kings & Thieves is the third release in a row where Geoff's vocal performance is the weakest link. From American Soldier, to Dedicated to Chaos and now Kings & Thieves, the pattern is Tate's declining ability as a singer, even when presented with musical ideas that fit his more non-metal preferences.

He's found this fascination with speaking lyrics instead of singing, which in small doses is fine. But this record continues the trend even more. And when Tate does attempt to sing and hit a note, its often flat and strained -- showing the dramatic loss of range and control that he used to be revered for.

There shouldn't have been any excuses on this record for Tate. He paired himself up with long-time friends and former MYTH bandmates Kelly Gray and Randy Gane -- a writing team very loyal to him that's he's comfortable with. Perhaps that backfired...maybe those he trusts didn't have the guts to stand up and say "Geoff, you need to do better than this."

From a lyrical and melody perspective, Kings & Thieves is quite possibly the worst Geoff Tate has ever done. Sexually suggestive lyrics are ok in certain instances, but "Say U Love It" is downright atrocious. You're what, 53, Geoff? This is what you're going to sing about? Really?

Sadly, while the lyrics are terrible for a lot of this record, the vocal melodies are just as bad. It's clear without someone holding his hand (Chris DeGarmo in the past, Jason Slater more recently), Tate isn't a very gifted melody writer. Tate used to write (or had written for him) really challenging and inspired melody lines. There's none of that here -- another continuing trend with albums Geoff Tate is on. The melodies are boring and lifeless.

On a positive note, if you recycled about half these song ideas and refashioned the lyrics and melodies and had a singer devoted to SINGING re-do them, you might find some interesting tunes. Cuts such as Dark Money, Take a Bullet, She Slipped Away, Evil and Waiting all have great moments musically. But they're really ruined by a poor vocal performance by Tate.

Simply put, if you were a fan of the Geoff Tate-led Queensryche record Dedicated to Chaos, and also liked Queensryche's 1999 release Q2k, then Kings & Thieves should appeal to you.

Unfortunately for Geoff's largest contingent of followers -- Queensryche fans -- Dedicated to Chaos and Q2k have largely been criticized as being the worst in Queensryche's catalog. Kings & Thieves is no better and in some cases, even worse.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I received my copy of the new Geoff Tate album on Saturday, so I've had a few days to listen and let the new songs sink in. I also had the pleasure of seeing Geoff perform live on Halloween night last week, so many of the new songs are still fresh in my mind from that performance. Without going into a song-by-song detail I must say that I feel "Kings & Thieves" is a fairly bland album and not exactly what I had hoped for.

I enjoyed Geoff's first solo album in 2002, especially because it varied its music styles to include R & B, electronics, and an overall softer tone compared what he had previously done in Queensryche. To my surprise, this new solo album "Kings & Thieves" is much heavier and guitar-rock driven than I had expected. I will admit that I preferred his first solo album to some of the recent Queensryche releases because he explored other soundscapes and musical arrangements than that of basic mid-tempo guitar rock. Because of the expectations set by his first solo album I'm slightly feeling let down by his second solo record.

The best way that I can describe this album is is that its a continuation of the production and style found on Queensryche's 1999 album, Q2K. The songs on "Kings & Thieves" are very similar in structure and have Kelly Gray's fingerprints all over it. Kelly Gray was my least favorite Queensryche guitarist and I was not overly fond of the guitar sound and overall song quality on Q2K (and also the tour that followed), and this new Geoff Tate album sounds like a complete contiuation of that songwriting style. After hearing the album I wasn't surprised to look at the linear notes and see that Kelly Gray had mixing credit and songwriting credit on all but 2 of the songs. Clearly this is the same Q2K songwriting team of Geoff and Kelly continuing the mid-tempo, grungy style from 12 years ago.

This album does not contan any "fast" songs or memorable ballads, nor does it explore any new ground sonically. It's straight up mid-tempo guitar rock, which I find to be uninspired overall. However, I will admit that I'm biased in the sense that I haven't listened to much rock music over the past 10 years and Queensryche is probably the only hard rock band that I've been into consistently over the years; the majority of my musical tastes lie in the darkwave/electronic realm, so guitar rock isn't something I'm normally drawn to anymore. So, as a lifelong Queensryche fan, but a non-rock music fan, I see this as an average album. Overall, I wish that Geoff would have explored some more electronic soundscapes that he touched on in his first 2002 release, for I feel that might be better suited for his aging voice. However, if you enjoyed Q2K I think you'll definitely like this album.

Still, I remain both a loyal Queensyche and Geoff Tate fan and thoroughly enjoyed seeing him in concert last week. Reviewers have been critical of his voice and while he doesn't sound like he did 20 years ago he still does an amazing job live, with many songs from "Kings & Thieves" actually sounding better live than on this record. Seeing "Dark Money" performed live was a highlight of the show. It's also not surprising that Q2K songs were played on this recent tour, seeing as they fit well with the new tunes. I hope that Geoff continues to release solo records and I'll continue to support him, but I'm just not a big fan of the Geoff Tate/Kelly Gray songwriting team.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I didn't expect a Queensrÿche record-- all I expected was a half-way decent one and I was very disappointed.

The lyrical content of this record is atrocious and platitudinous, Geoff's voice is very tired, and the music is terribly bland. Gag-worthy cuts like "Say U Luv It", "In The Dirt", and "The Way I Roll" are nothing short of a disgrace to Geoff Tate's legacy, and an insult to most people's intelligence. Cringe-worthy and painfully idiotic lyrics like "She's got moves like I've never seen, rides me hard like an exercise machine" are sad reminders of where Geoff Tate is creatively. This is album is self-indulgent, contrived, and about as meaningful as the average pop record.

The music sounds like the same monotony from Dedicated to Chaos, but with a little more life. There are very brief flashes of brilliance, but it feels as if the musicians are holding something back. This album had good intentions, but absolutely abysmal execution.

If you loved Dedicated to Chaos or Q2k, you'd probably get a kick out of this record. If you liked Geoff's previous solo effort-- or anything else he as ever done-- I'd stand clear of this one.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Yeah... this could have been a fairly decent album. Even though the sound quality isn't good, the music itself - the instrumentation, I mean, it's, well, not great, but certainly promising. There's a couple of track in which the intro might actually fool you into believing you will hear some audio gold. BUT.
I think it's rather sad that the main problem with Geoff Tate's solo efforts is Geoff Tate himself. Everyone talks about how that's not the voice that sang Queen of the Reich and other QR classics, but oh boy, lemme tell you. Yes, Geoff is contantly struggling with his own singing, but the thing that really caught my attention was how poor the vocal melodies were. In fact(and I am really really sorry for being so harsh, but the truth hurts sometimes) half of these songs actually sound like Geoff was improvising melodies as he was singing. That's how poor they were.
Look, I don't think that a good singer has to reach insanely high notes to be a good singer- many great singers(IMHO) are actually fairly sober with their voices. See Kevin Moore from OSI for a good example of that. But a good singer ABSOLUTELY need good vocal melodies to get somewhere. ESPECIALLY WHEN THE FOCAL POINT OF THE ALBUM IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE SINGER. They need to connect with the rest of the song. Interact. They need to show that the instrumentation isn't in the background, it's AROUND the singing. Oh, and most of these songs just repeat themselves until the end without any type of dynamic. You heard one minute of a song, you heard it all.
There are few words in the english language appropriate to describe the lyrics of this album accurately. In fact, ''cringe-worty'' is the one I think best summarizes them. Look, I am not a prog-head. I don't think all lyrics have to be deep reflections about the nature of men. Songs about sex can be great. But jesus christ on a stick if these lyrics aren't just plain creepy. Everytime I read the lyrics for ''Say U Luv It'' I feel like I really need to take a shower.
I feel like writing a book about how I feel about this album, so I should probably stop here. Could have been a decent album if they would get another singer. BAM.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I began listening to Queensryche during the Empire years (as so many others did also) and have followed them since. Subsequent albums were good, but when Q2K came out that pretty much started the decline of Queensryche. Operation Mindrcime II was a disaster, American Solider no better and Dedicated to Chaos was just ...... it just shouldn't have been released. So, Queensryche parts ways with Tate and right away, he signs with Inside Out and here comes his second solo effort. I'm thinking, maybe he will deliver a solid release. Then again, maybe not. I agree with other reviewers and his choice of Kelly Grey collaborating with him. Not a good choice. Q2K was so rigid, nothing flowed and this album follows suit. Tate used to have a fantastic voice, but age has shown its colors where he doesn't have the range anymore. But that doesn't mean you still can't put out a quaility record. You just need to rethink on how you put the songs together. Each release by Queensryche I would have some hope, but after every listen I questioned myself on why did I ever buy that. And that's the case with this release. For me, just not a good listen, both musically and lyrically. For others who will enjoy this, good for you if this is your cup of tea. Now I have to just stop myself from purchasing anything else by Geoff Tate. I hate being disappointed time and time again.
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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I know when a lot of singers go off to do solo projects it's suppose to usually be in some sort of different direction. On Geoffs last album he had a little of everything, from pop, rock to even R&B sounding songs. That album actually had some "decent" songs on it and Geoff also sung about 2 octaves, which he doesn't sing at all on here. The songs are bland, boring and some are just plain out bad. Geoff himself sounds like he's heavily sedated, and his voice (which has been gone since the late 90's) sounds like he ate about five frogs before singing the tracks. So actually there isn't much to say about it, luckily someone on Youtube posted the album for streaming, i sat through every song, sadly and usually skipped right on to the next one.

I wasn't expecting Queensryche, heck i don't even expect QR from QR anymore. And this just makes him a parody of himself. I mean lets get real here, songs like "Say U Luv It", is he texting someone? And "The Way I Roll", no offense Geoff but the last time i checked you were a white dude from Seattle, not a rapper from L.A or the Bronx. So i'm not sure what his new found love is for this type of "crap" but this is just awful and i won't waste my time with anymore of his material. Any interview i've seen him in he's always drinking red wine and complaining about the economy, war, or something so political you can't understand it. Usually complaining. It seems with his self centered attitude he would take more aggression out through his music, like in the old Operation Mindcrime, and Empire days. Sadly that's not the case. His writing skills have vanished. Both with QR and alone. Even with the song "Evil" you think you are going to get some, and you don't. No aggression, no high range Geoff, just bland, slow and boring. No energy. I heard much of the new Aerosmith album and it wasn't anything special, but at least it had some good energy to it, and those guys are up in their 60's. Even Ronnie James Dio stuck to his guns till his dying day. Well R.I.P Dio, Geoff use to emulate you, but he left his roots.

So if you're expecting anything like rock or even a treat of Geoffs former vocal stylings, it's no where to be found here. Of course I didn't expect it to be good, but i also didn't expect him to turn into "Geoff Daddy". Also the two ballads at the end, pfft, forget it, he makes no effort in "Changing" or "Waiting" to extend or try instilling any power in his vocals. I'll listen to Shinedown (a good rock band) before i'll ever touch this. QR is dead and so is Geoffs music and voice, but that's ok, i was sick of them anyway.
No wonder Queensryche kicked your sorry A^^ out of the band. You surely deserved it.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Well we probably all know the crux of all that's been happening in the world of Geoff Tate and Queensryche of late so there's no need for me to begin this review by going over it, except to say that because of it I wasn't really expecting much from this album.
But when a man with as much talent as Geoff Tate is releasing an album you can't really cast it aside and ignore it, especially when I have enjoyed so much of what he's recorded in the past. So I prepared myself to have the courtesy listen out of interest and respect, but with the expectation that I'd probably never really want to listen to it again, just to avoid any level of any personal disappointment with the album.

YouTube and Sound Cloud previews never really sparked a huge amount of interest from me, but at the same time also made me think that this album might not entirely be the crap I was preparing myself for. Hmmm... might be worth a bit more of a listen after all I thought, and I was right.

What is very apparent with Kings And Thieves is that it's very different to his last solo album. Whilst it is by no means Queensryche either, or anything I'd want them to release, it does have a sound about it that reminds a little of American Soldier and therefore shows the influence he did have with that album. But another American Soldier this album definitely isn't.

The band Tate has put together for Kings And Thieves sound good without ever being brilliant, and for much of the album they have a good groove going on. So ignoring the debate about who are the better musicians (which could go on for ever about who played what etc), where this album falls down in comparison to most of the albums he did with Queensryche is in the songs themselves. For the most part they don't have the memorable moments to really grab you, hook you in and want to hear them again and again. There aren't the magical guitar solos, the memorable riffs and sublime guitar melodies that I loved from Queensryche. And there aren't the soaring choruses, the thought provoking lyrics, the vocal range to amaze, and the vocal melodies that Tate has so wowed me and millions of others with in the past. Although he does sound quite fine singing in the range he does on this album.

Yet for all that, Kings And Thieves is it's own beast and deserves to be judged so, and in that regard it really isn't too bad. But the anticipated crap is there in songs like Say U Luv It which makes me cringe and think of the farce that was QR Caberet, and Tomorrow which is ok for the 18 seconds of the intro but plummets rapidly down hill from there thanks to a lack of decent melody. The rest of the album though is made up of songs that for the most part are average, but some I do reasonably enjoy (see below). I also quite like the fact that he has included some saxophone in a couple of parts because this really is a smooth and sexy instrument that can do wonders to create mood and atmosphere, and IMO is far underutilised in today's music.

I actually think Kings And Thieves is an album that finishes quite well, with the last four songs being some of the best. The last two Change and Waiting are more mellow, the kind of songs that fit well at the end of an album, but this is where Tate sounds more comfortable and natural. In fact if he was to decide to take his recording career down a more mellow path like this, he is one of the few artists that I would not have any problem with doing so at all, because on these kinds of songs he shines. Change in particular is the highlight of the album for me. It has the atmosphere, the melody and the emotion of Tate at his best.

At the end of the day Kings And Thieves isn't as good as the Queensryche I love, but it is definitely better than Dedicated To Chaos and Operation Mindcrime:II, and it's also better than Tate's last solo album. Certainly it is worth acquiring for Tate fans because there are some good songs, and it definitely isn't the beer coaster I was expecting it to be.

To end with a quote from the man himself (from The Way I Roll) "Believe what you want, I'm still standing" and he certainly is.

Preferred Tracks (In Order): Change, Dark Money, She Slipped Away, These Glory Days, Waiting, The Way I Roll.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2012
Format: Audio CD
that anything quality from Queensryche did not come from Geoff. This is pure garbage. Shocking. I used to be a huge fan of his voice. There is nothing about this album that makes me want to repeat listening. Stupid lyrics and poor musicians. Shocking on how bad it can get. MSN did rate this worst album of 2012 for a reason.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I was forced to give 1 star to write a review. I grew up on Queensryche. Geoff Tate along with Rob Halford and Dio were the cream of the rock/metal crop. That Geoff Tate is long gone. The music is uninspired, and the vocals are worse. This is a record where the singer is supposed to be the marquee performer, and he sounds putrid. I have also grown tired of the same old "America is evil and rich people suck" lyrics. YOU ARE RICH GEOFF! Stop criticizing success. Time to retire and enjoy the spoils of your toils.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2013
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
Geoff Tate wants to sound different than Queensryche used to. He accomplishes that here. This is a good release. I believe a lot of the negative reviews are from fans who miss the old Queensryche. Let Geoff move on. He apparently doesn't want to, hence the lawsuit. This is a good album. The songs are well written and performed. I hope Geoff will give up the pursuit of the QR name, but who knows. If you listen to this album and don't expect old QR you might just like it. Just my opinion though.
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