Customer Reviews: Kings & Thieves
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on November 6, 2012
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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on November 6, 2012
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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on November 9, 2012
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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on November 6, 2012
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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on November 6, 2012
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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on November 6, 2012
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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on June 9, 2013
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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on November 7, 2012
Like most everyone else here, I am a longtime Queensryche fan, but I'm also a fan of many different types of music, so I tried to come into this release with no expectations.

My Pros:

- She Slipped Away - The music was very well constructed, creating a blank canvas ripe for Geoff to weave his lyrics around. Nice guitar solo.
- Change - Nice introspective ballad with strings, and a cool piano weaving the sections together. The production sounds a bit different on this song, and I'm wondering if it is an older song that was dusted off for this release.
- Waiting - Geoff breaks out the sax for this brooding ballad that I think is actually the most Queensryche-esque song on the album. My only complaint is the "waiting" chorus background vox, which like many of the recent QR albums, seem somewhat out of tune.

My Cons:

- In the Dirt - A song about doin' the nasty with a nympho or an acrobat or something. Lots of "eh's", "haha's" and "yeahs" in this song. Nice guitar solo. Geoff also rhymes rollin' with rollin' in this song.
- Say U Luv it - A song about doin' the nasty with Geoff Tate. Interesting riff, more childish lyrics. The music world is now filled with straight forward sex songs, which is just an excuse for not being imaginative enough to write some innuendos. If Geoff wanted to be so straight forward about his sexual appetite, he should have featured Plies on this track or something. This song features more of Geoff laughing sadistically and more "yeah's".
- The Way I Roll - Hey, this is real. This is him. Geoff Tate's WWE entrance theme.

To me, the first 2 singles Dark Money and Take a Bullet were just 'meh'.

There is some good music here. Nice song structure for the most part, but I feel that a lot of the lyrics and melodies were just kind of an afterthought, or lazy. I know Geoff is a go-with-the-flow guy now, so maybe that's how they were constructed, he came up with something and they went with it instead of thinking it out. Still, it's not terrible, but it's also not stellar either. You may want to get a couple bottles of Insania to wash it down.
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on October 3, 2015
If you are tired of the way all the Queensryche albums in the 2000s sound, that's on this CD because his buddy from Third Eye Blind, Jason Slater, is writing the same, tired music on this album as he has done on just about every Queensryche album after "Hear In The Now Frontier." That's right, Geoffrey "Tatesy" Tate threw a fit after Chris DeGarmo left and only wanted Jason Slater to write music for Queensryche (thus, the "tired Queensryche sound" that paid street team member Patrick O. Sweeney refers to). This, like his other solo album, features that same formula (as does Frequency Unknown and The Key). If you've ever picked up a Queensryche album that came out in the 2000s and asked yourself "why can't they write music like the first five albums anymore," it is because of Geoff Tate's insistence on having a person outside of the band write the music. Go pick up Condition Human instead; it is a return to that fantastic sound on the first five albums.
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on December 6, 2013
There has been no shortage of drama in this year's much publicized implosion of Queensryche and the he-said, she-said accounts of why, but after the smoke cleared, the main explanation seems to be irreconcilable musical differences. The other members are attempting to put the blame for Queensryche's change in sound and subsequent deteriorating sales squarely on the former singer's shoulders. It's a claim that Tate fiercely denies, insisting that he was only one fifth of the band, with only one vote, and unable to make decisions without the other members consent. It's an argument that might hold up ... If he didn't say it, right before releasing ... this. I understand that this is a solo album and wasn't necessarily supposed to sound like Queensryche, but it does sound suspiciously like all of their latest junk, and it lacks any similarity to any of their earlier work. The parallel between this and everything that has gone wrong with Queensryche is pretty easy to hear, so he is going to have a hard time convincing people it was not his influence when his solo album has the same sound. For those unfamiliar with it, this sound is ... Well, it's crap. Like most of Queensryche's material from the last twenty years, it's sloppy, disjointed and noisy with more talking than singing and vocals that frequently sound out of tune. It's not ALL totally awful -- every once in a while, you can hear a piece that sounds a little bit like Empire, but then it breaks down into some other warped melody and it's gone. I bet if Tate knew he was going to be fired and forced to publicly defend his commitment to the classic Queensryche sound he would have made an effort to include some more mainstream metal elements in this music to convince people that his heart was still in it, but as it is, I would guess this is a pretty clear picture of his style. I think he has moved on. And that would be fine -- everyone has a right to evolve and change, but unfortunately, in this type of divorce, to retain some financial custody over the fans, he will pretend that he is still the guy they used to like ... That he still likes to sing those songs ... That there is still a chance he might write one like that again. And he might, but I don't think it will be because he wants to.

Scott -
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