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Theories Of Flight
Theories Of Flight
Price: $16.14
24 used & new from $11.63

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-droppingly great career highlight, July 1, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Theories Of Flight (Audio CD)
The opening song on any album is the mission statement. Make the mission clear. Theories of Flight wastes no time in getting down to business with snarling opener and first single "From the Rooftops." A classic atmospheric intro lulls and creates a false sense of security, until the listener is thrown into a maelstrom of aggro, staccato start-stop riffing by Matheos, but what really draws the listener in are the soaring vocal harmonies. Ray Alder is tearing into it here like he's gonna die tomorrow, and this is the first of many blood-roiling, fist-pumping anthemic choruses. The melodic approach is complete and suffuses the album, like Parallels but without the more delicate balladeering. Energetic tracks like "SOS," "Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen" and especially "Seven Stars" are immediate, aggressive and hooky, melodically conceived and not contrived, both catchy and crushing.

Vying with the opener, two sprawling 10 minute-plus epics bring the textured, progressive side of Fates to the forefront - "The Light and Shade of Things" with its Floyd-ish solo touches, and Matheos' melancholic and powerful autobiographical "The Ghosts of Home." Somewhat reminiscent of "And Yet It Moves" (from 2013's Darkness in a Different Light) with its knotty, climbing single-note riff runs, "Ghosts" is a rumination on an apparently chaotic childhood which saw young Matheos and his family frequently relocating. "Another new horizon/Familiar scene of childhood dislocation/Fingers traced the colored lines/Another road, another destination." Those feelings of solitude and dislocation permeate the themes of the album, but although prior Fates' albums were steeped in melancholy ("Disconnected" or "A Pleasant Shade of Gray" spring to mind) Theories of Flight is more often than not balanced with a sense of resolve and a determination to move forward which permeates and energizes the proceedings here. In tracks such as "White Flag" it is personified by the defiant lyrics from Alder - who pens much of them here - and frenetic soloing between longtime bandmate, now regular collaborator Frank X. Aresti, and touring guitarist Mike Abdow. Special mention should also be made here for longtime bassist Joey Vera and dexterous skinsman Bobby Jarzombek, whose rhythmic and seismic foundation has certainly influenced the more aggressive, metallic shift in the FW sound of late, anchoring these tracks firmly in a metal mood.

The only thing which could conceivably be considered as a misstep might be the sequencing of the instrumental title track, bookending delicate acoustics over an intriguing, but too-short progressive off-time middle full-band section. While deliberate, it ends the album curiously and abruptly, leaving the listener with the sampled questions which reflect on the album's themes and ask questions which have no answers other than time. That said, as a fan since the very dawn of the Ray Alder era, and even considering 2011's stellar Fates Warning-in-all-but-name Arch/Matheos album Sympathetic Resonance, it's hard to think of in the entirety of their catalog another album so singular of intent and so conceptually successful. The overall impression here is that Fates Warning have perhaps dropped one of the strongest albums of their career, and its a safe bet more than enough longtime fans will come to agree it deserves to be considered with classic albums like Parallels and Perfect Symmetry.

Condition Human
Condition Human
Price: $9.99
39 used & new from $5.70

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the Layering, October 29, 2015
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This review is from: Condition Human (Audio CD)
A fan-friendly progression from the raw promise of 2013's self-titled comeback album, _Condition Human_ arrives replete with the requisite metal umlaut in the title and a much more crafted set of tunes in tow. The first three tracks "Arrow of Time," "Guardian," and "Hellfire" were released ahead of the album, a great teaser of just what was to come from a newly-rejuvenated QR with new vocalist Todd LaTorre contributing more fully to the songwriting process. Though all three were solid in their own right, "Guardian" intrigued me the most, with its propulsive drumming, weird key change during the solo, and surprisingly dark breakdown at the end, showing a more aggressive 'Ryche to go along with the shiny, modern production. "Selfish Lives" brings a great, Empire-era stop-start riff and snaky chorus, along with an absolutely tremendous set of solos from Lundgren and Whip. A confident LaTorre weaves in and out of this magic like an old pro, layering impressive idea after impressive vocal idea. This song is definitely one of the best things i've heard from the band since the glory days with DeGarmo. Elsewhere "Hourglass" also impresses, with its heavy opening riff and impressive crescendo. Two stately new ballads are along for the party as well, and they are an enjoyable diversion from the driving metal elsewhere; the somewhat cloying "Bulletproof" and the lilting, celt-prog of "Just Us" which presents a new side of Queensryche, and ample vocal technique from LaTorre who makes it one of his most distinctive performances yet with the band.

For me the album misses the mark only once, in the titular closing track, one of the longest songs on the album (or in the canon altogether) but which also feels like an overly self-conscious rehash of past album-closing glories. Wilton has said during interviews this song really started out rather modest but parts kept finding their way in over time, and as such it feels a bit forced. Its presence is appreciated nonetheless, as it shows a stronger songwriting ambition that was lacking with the bands' move towards accessible, simple songwriting since _Promised Land_.

This is a much more metallic Queensryche than we've heard in a long time, and you really can hear all the band members brought fine ideas to the table and fire to the performances. Wilton and Lundgren work very well together in re-establishing the dual lead harmonies that were a familiar trademark of the QR sound while simultaneously establishing a more effective chemistry between them - I believe you can really feel Wilton fully assuming the melodic responsibilities that Chris DeGarmo used to bring to the table contrasted with the more shreddy Lundgren, who really lets rip a few times here and proves he can be an X-Factor in this band. On the low end Jackson and especially Rockenfeld remind us what a potent rhythm section they really are. That said the album sometimes strikes a strangely introverted tone at times, maybe due to the explosion of musical and production ideas and a more deliberate, cerebral songwriting approach. I would agree with what some have here and said that _Condition Human_ is a grower, but that said it isn't leaden or ponderous, maybe just a touch overstuffed with denser songs that need time to appreciate the craft therein. Count me in with the people who are nevertheless excited about the return of the rock, more complex songwriting, and most importantly, a confident band no longer trying to re-establish their own credibility.

The Key
The Key
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14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigues more than it Maddens, September 22, 2015
This review is from: The Key (Audio CD)
(3-1/2 stars) I'll start by saying, I get it - my first 'Ryche record was _Rage For Order_. I slammed the first Tateryche record as the cold-hearted cash-in that it was. I approached both Tate's abysmal _Kings & Thieves_ solo album and _F_U_ with an open mind, and considering how harshly I was punished for doing so in both cases, I wasn't sure I was going to be listening to the next one. For reals - Mr. Tate seemed to be on what seemed to be a path of self-destruction that was growing as uncomfortable to watch as it was to hear on record. That said, having heard the very familiar sounding (some familiar with "The Mission" might say *too* familiar) single "Re-Inventing The Future" I decided to see what was going on.

What is clear from the beginning, when you understand the concept of the band, is that Tate's artistic headspace now is to construct musical stories. OM: II - especially with its later revelations of faceless musicians and meticulous assembly, turns out to be the template for Tate's new musical vision, one that involves a regularly rotating cast of studio pros following his lead. Fortunately for the first of a trilogy of albums, those directions, despite some rather pleasing anachronisms, appear to be mostly pointed forward. And hey, if Devin Townsend or Jon Oliva can get away with it, why can't Tate, who has a career littered with classic metal records?

As the record is conceptual and has a narrative, it's reasonable to judge this on two fronts - (1) the music itself, and (2) how the narrative flows and is supported by the story. Once again, as with OM: II the story itself is, so to say, not the real story here. The concept seems less fully-realized as it is a collection of newsy cyberpunk items thrown in a blender - we hear the typing of keyboards and vague references to the titular item, some world-changing deus ex machina that requires people to discuss in stern and sinister tones about what should be done with it for the good of society.

More prog than metal and more art than rock, the music that carries this tale both benefits and suffers from this narrative drift. The first three tracks, including the sample-laden "Choices" through the Q2K-sounding "Burn" and "Re-Inventing the Future" start things off strongly. There are some missteps - "The Stranger" just tries way too hard at surging, modern hard rock and stumbles badly, and "Life Or Death" despite its wonderful verse guitar riff, frustratingly pushes forward a different vocalist for too many verses while Tate is content to sing backing vocals. "Hearing Voices" on the other hand is excellent, with a great main riff, great solos, unpredictable song structure, and a dramatic vocal performance by Tate. The synth and programming-laden "On Queue" is the closest musical unity with the album's concept, and features Tate on sax. The final three tracks here are perhaps the most surprising, "An Ambush of Sadness" balances delicate acoustic guitar with dulcimer to great effect, while the gentle "Kicking In The Door" - again, featuring a different lead vocalist - feels like it could have fit comfortably on either _Hear In The Now Frontier_ or _Promised Land_. Album closer "The Fall" grafts a Periphery-like, mathy riff to Tate's dramatic, patented off-kilter vocal harmonies to good effect, though here another sax solo is too reedy-sounding. You can almost imagine a Queensryche with Tate that was fully committed to metal trying something like this.

The record is strongest when Tate refines his alt-metal latter-day QR drenched vision and gleefully plunders varied musical territories and exotic realms. The textures and ambitious song structures are commendable and do a good deal towards re-establishing the artistic credibility that many fans felt he squandered over the course of the latter-day Queensryche albums (especially _American Soldier_ and _Dedicated to Chaos_). And it must be said, the very Tri-Ryche ripoff band symbol and opening single, along with the band name may strike those already jaded by the past two years as too much and they will just not get into this record. I might agree with that faction if the entire album sounded like borrowed classic QR riffs, but that is precisely *not* what is going on here. Time will tell if a full trilogy will be as rewarding overall - these are all being recorded simultaneously for continuity, and the story needs meat on its bones to carry across three albums. But it's a good start.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2016 2:16 PM PDT

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Last Release as Montrose, April 19, 2015
This review is from: Mean (Audio CD)
(2-1/2) Out of print, my copy is an Enigma records pressing. This latter-day incarnation of Montrose is naturally more straight-ahead than Gamma, lacking that band's classy prog sophistication and sorely missing that additional gritty blues edge that comes with Gamma vocalist David Pattison's more honest voice. _Mean_ sounds a whole lot like most of the generic hard AOR of the time, with stiff, blocky snare backing stiff, blocky songs, fronted by a faceless vocalist. Even backed up by the substantially fortified chops of Mr. Montrose himself, the record's greatest sin is that even those great riffs and classy solos can't distinguish this record from the rest of the pack, marrying Sammy Hagar quality riffs with the dumbest Poison lyrical tropes - including the obligatory "fire/desire" rhyme as well ( on "Man of the Hour") . Probably the most interesting song is what was a planned song for the first RoboCop movie, "M for Machine", that never materialized in the movie itself, which like album closer "Stand" has some interesting acoustic dynamics. None of this would make it on a Greatest Hits package, that's for sure. It marches efficiently by, with a nice solo here and there (the aforementioned "Stand" for example) grabbing your attention, before the very 80's production buries it under the avalanche of cheap reverb.

Outside of it being the last album under the Montrose name, there are a couple of other curiosities about the album. The lead singer Johnny Edwards went on to front Foreigner post Lou Gramm, and the drummer James Kottak somehow found the tiniest bit of groove and made it into the Zep revivalists Kingdom Come. All that said, while Ronnie's playing and tone are naturally solid, this is probably of interest only to completists, otherwise you haven't heard anything here that hasn't already been under the credits for a cheezy mid-80's horror film.

Tubes -  Love Bomb
Tubes - Love Bomb
Offered by Fulfillment Express US
Price: $20.12
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love Bomb or Limp Firecracker?, March 29, 2015
This review is from: Tubes - Love Bomb (Audio CD)
(3-1/2) As a sign of band disintegration and coked-out eighties excess, it's pretty tough to beat the Tubes "Love Bomb." That's not to say that this strange, stiff overly-white-boy-funked-out artifact doesn't have its very peculiar delights, but it is a bit high on filler. Once again at the helm is Todd Rundgren, who was the leader behind probably my favorite all-around Tubes album _Remote Control_ but is just left to run out of control. Here he overproduces some awfully generic 80's pop to the point where midway through side one you're wondering when Alex P. Keaton is going to step out from behind the speakers and do the hucklebuck. The first two tracks are almost comically terrible, with bad lyrics, generic 80's distortion, that good-feeling 80's keyboard tinkle, and Fee Waybill doing his best to be as generically 80's edgy-AOR as possible. To hear the driving synth bass, Journey-like chorus, sax solos and ham-fisted lyrical overtures to "Streetcar Named Desire" on "Stella" is to realize that the guys who wrote "White Punks on Dope" have now become the MBA parents of those white punks. The ballad "Come As You Are" is another hoot with its telegraphed 80's adult contemporary R&B moves, but has a nice slinky vibe and an ultimately winning Waybill performance. I'd imagine given the state of the band dynamics there was probably a cat-fight to see whether this track got on Waybill's solo LP as it probably would have been a great late-night single. Things perk up a bit with "One Good Reason" which uses many of the same ham-fisted AOR cliches as the leadoff track but somehow works better, but especially the percolating title track "Bora Bora 2000/Love Bomb" which is fantastic, and shows what would have happened with a little more focus and fruitful collab with Rundgren. Side two has less actual song-meat, and is interesting more for the continuous flow and artfully-interleaved samples. While there are some more painful lyrical excursions ("Night People---they're my friends/Night people--don't want the night to end/Night people--hide from the sun/Night people---are gone when the morning comes" ) this side is a lot of fun. I found myself laughing out loud at the overly-enthusiastic dance sampling, especially things like the "Muscle Girls/Theme from a Wooly Place" montage. "For A Song" and especially the almost disco-revival of "Feel It" contribute to the party mood. The humor goes a long way towards forgiving the dated production excess when the last clattering computerized snare leaves the facilities.

A lot has been written about the power struggles, and poor promotion by Capitol, and when you get a look at the amateurish computerized video meant to accompany "Piece By Piece" it sort of sums up the sad collapse of a once-great band. I feel like a little bit focus on this one might have improved the outcome and potentially included more wackiness along the lines of the title track. Probably a little underrated by the Tubes fans, and overall, but not terribly so.

The Studio Albums 1969-1987
The Studio Albums 1969-1987
Offered by World Wide Entertainment
Price: $46.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Faustian packaging bargain, but may be the right price for all the remasters, November 21, 2014
This is another of the "econobox" comprehensive clean-up releases to try and squeeze the remaining bits of money potentially floating around the CD market. It contains of all the Rhino 2003 "Remastered and Expanded" versions of the Yes studio catalog including _Big Generator_ offered for the first time in the states. Anyone considering this set already knows where its at with this music, but a few words follow on the high-quality remastering and bonus material.

Hearing some of Yes's earliest studio works in this context was quite a revelation for me, especially early Bruford-led tracks like "Every Little Thing" on 1969's otherwise somewhat restrained and formative _Yes_. The underrated _Time and a Word_ with its frenetic string orchestrations is also well updated and much livelier. The classic trio of albums - _The Yes album_, _Close to the Edge_, _Fragile_ - sound awesome as well - the classic tracks like "Roundabout" and "Yours Is No Disgrace" are magical. Yes albums were very well-engineered for their day, so while these remasters are limited and EQed, the transfers used are very clean, and there is enough sensitivity to the source material that the loudness serves to expose how finely detailed the original recordings really are. With the first two albums, the bonus tracks include all of the contents of the _Yesterdays_ collection spread over them, though the other unreleased tracks here lean towards a lot of rough studio run-throughs. _Tormato_ and _Drama_ , being the most compromised & controversial albums respectively of any of the Yes catalog, do have the more interesting concentration of transitional B-sides, including a few post-Tormato tracks from an aborted '79 session with Roy Thomas Baker just before Anderson and Wakeman left the band. Once you get into the 80s material the bonus material is more of filler quality, remixes and such.

The inner sleeves show the shortcuts taken with this set. They are "disc cases" done in the style of the original vinyl covers. Instead of the high-quality thick cardboard and with inner slipcases to snugly encase the discs, the CDs are shoved directly in thinner cardboard versions. These cases are about 2mm smaller in diameter than your usual CD "vinyl album" repros. All the studio gatefolds are nonetheless faithfully reproduced in miniature, including the triple-fold-out of Going for the One. The reduced CD-vinyl size renders the inner type too small to read (especially Tales), but a side-effect of the glossy cardboard and saturated versions of the artwork reproduction is some of the covers, especially Relayer, actually look better and sharper here than my original vinyl copy. As others have noted the single-sleeve albums (Yes, Tormato, Big Generator, Time and a Word, and 90125) are annoyingly wide to fit snugly in the box and the CDs fall out of these very easily when handled carelessly. I feel like a lot of reviewers here are a bit overly obsessed with the sleeve aspect of the set, but for me probably the most annoying packaging shortcut is there is no indication of the bonus tracks given on any of the covers - it is printed on the discs themselves. Nor is there a perfunctory essay or any words on the box set, rather a fold-out version of the box set cover art by Roger Dean is included, a bit small to really truly appreciate.

In total you have all the studio albums from 1969-1987 and 66 bonus tracks spread over these discs. If you were to judge this box on the music alone, the value is great - it averages out to about $6 a CD. All in all, if you want a good cheap way to get the remasters, this is the way to go, but if you are a collector be prepared to be somewhat frustrated with the presentation.

The Tubes
The Tubes
Price: $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Still Stunning Debut from San Francisco's Greatest Underground Erotic Punk-Prog Theater Troupe, May 12, 2014
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This review is from: The Tubes (MP3 Music)
For those that are in the know about the Tubes - that they were more than a one-hit-wonder novelty 80's pop band - the first track that most everyone cites other than the hits is the epic album closer "White Punks On Dope," quite possibly one of the greatest songs of the '70s, full of twists and turns and tight playing, along with its epic "Thank you Jesus!" finale. It sums up what was really great about the so-called musical excesses of the '70s, when they were harnessed for pure fun. But oh man, when I put the needle down on this album, as great as this track is I was not ready for what lied ahead.

The album kicks off with a fantastic one-two punch of "Up From The Deep/Haloes" which given the proximity and bleed-in almost be considered a single jam, and in these two tracks you will be introduced to the gifts of this band - witty, acerbic lyrics and musical chops for miles. "Haloes" in particular may be my favorite Tubes track - studio master Prarie Prince does some crushing, near speed-metal double-bass work that has to be heard to believe it actually comes from 1975, and Al Kooper's production is analog-fat and fabulous, augmented with some very tasteful string and funky horn work that was arranged by Kooper and Dominic Frontiere.

"Space Baby" and "Malaguena Salerosa" close out side 1 and are good fun. Of particular note for the former is the proggy, note-dense synth breakdown in the middle of the track which hits out of nowhere, but still works. The novelty and whimsy of the latin-tinged "Malaguena" is charming, with a clever arrangement and again some good instrumentation, but given how throwaway it feels I could have done with a minute or two shaved off.

Side 2 begins with "Mondo Bondage" which refocuses the instrumental attack and is similarly fun, with a great singalong chorus and throwaway lyric that again adds to the overall goofy vibe of the album. As others have noted this is a track that likely had a very strong (and very naughty) visual component for the live show, so on the album it's a bit less effective.

The true gem here is "What Do You Want From Life?" which has a smoking guitar solo from Bill Spooner and a genuinely funny rant from Fee Waybill. "Boy Crazy" is another good Waybill performance and feels more heartfelt than some of the novelty tracks, but given it's sandwiched between the former track and epic closer "White Punks on Dope" it plays more like a spacer in the flow of the album.

Nits aside, with the great production, fantastic playing and spirit of "this could have only happened in the seventies" feel of the whole thing, I feel like the album deserves to be recognized a genuine classic. The band would go on to do great work developing their attack in other areas - 1979's Todd Rundgren-produced _Remote Control_ is probably the most mature and thematically complete satire the band has done, and _The Completion Backwards Principle_ is a fine, underrated pop re-invention - but the albums that followed never totally recaptured the spirit and promise of this first disc. Excellent and worthy of adding to any rock afficionado's collection.

Price: $8.79
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5.0 out of 5 stars This music is haunting my dreams., March 8, 2014
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This review is from: CARBON BASED ANATOMY (Audio CD)
I'm not sure how many 5-spots i've thrown out, but there you go. Its been three days since this has dropped into my consciousness and I am not sure I have yet recovered.

I ended up missing both of Cynic's stopgap EPs (this one and "Re-Traced") on my way to this year's excellent "Kindly Bent To Free Us" so I was surprised, as good as that album is, to see more than a few people slightly disappointed it didn't live up to the promise of this EP. So naturally I had to check out what all the fuss was about.

From moment one this musical head-trip had me riveted. It sounds naive to anyone who claims to have heard "The Portal Tapes," but I seriously was not ready for where they went with this EP. Indian-influenced female vocals and whispered chants introduced a level of tranquility I had never expected listening to a so-called "Death Metal" band. Then the kinetic, propulsive title track eased its way in, and I knew that I was in for a wild ride. Bassist Sean Malone is technically a hired hand here, but you wouldn't know it from listening to how he's flat-out grooving with drummer Sean Reinert here. It's the most incredible prog-fusion bass/drum throwdown i've heard since Percy Jones and Phil Collins locked horns on Brand X's "Malaga Virgen" back in the day. Even more surprising is the naked emoting of guitarist/vocalist/mastermind Paul Masvidal, who throws the vocoder aside and lays down some vulnerable, but flat-out great work that is simultaneously textural and inspiring, adding some great solos that show both technique and restraint in perfect doses.

Then we go into our full-on-hanging-with-Ravi-Shankar-phase, and "Bija!" comes in. As a bridge between the more fully-crystallized songs, it still demands your attention, blending some not flashy but solid tabla playing with again Middle-eastern inspired vocals and piano. The contrast of western and eastern textures is intoxicating and musical - this is not some throwaway soundscape.

And then we get to "Box Up My Bones." The first time this song hit me was over headphones, and it slow-builds out of nowhere delicately, approaching you like a glorious, runaway psychedelic train. There's this simple-yet-amazing thing that Reinert does on the kit in this song between the chorus and the "chanting" pre-verse - it's a feel thing, and its a tempo thing, it's barely noticeable but it's so incredibly well-executed that every time it happens you roll with it and slip into giddiness, happiness and hope. The drumming on this song cannot accurately be described without using the words "technical mastery." Yet again in the flow of the song, there's the jagged edges when the band stops to let Paul stand by himself before the choruses and crashing guitars. If Peter Gabriel hung out with prog-metal guys, this is probably the whacked-out s*** that he would come up with.

Its important to say - we're not really in the realm of metal anymore. I mean, I think it has to be a very important disclaimer to this music - you get the sense that you are listening to a thing that is some far-removed strain of something that was once metal, but is just too informed, involved, introverted and intoxicated with the possibility of a higher plane of actualization, that it just leaves metal behind.

That's important to keep in mind when we get to "Elves Beam Out," which has to be the strangest, catchiest, most awesome approximation of pop-prog eye poke this band has ever made. With its fey and bizarre lyrical matter ("i met this dream before/elves beam out/seed shaped sounds"), strange phased reverb on the drums pre-verse, and flat-out Beatles-esque resolution riff, this song is a trip from beginning to end and really is just the crowning achievement on this daring blend of sonics.

We thus creep steadily through echoing santoors, wistfully, to an end with final interlude "Hieroglyph" which whispers us out on some concluding poetry : "everything rushing into freedom/no walls no specific personality/his whole being an explosion into infinity."

Some will say not a lot of meat, some will say "wheres the metal" and those I guess are fair criticisms on some level for a six-song EP that makes no pretense to be metal beyond the association with their name. But when I hear this music, I truly hear the sounds of people attempting to translate the strangeness of the beautiful sounds in their headspace to tape, damn the consequences. It's exciting to hear that metal music finally has their Talk Talk.

Frequency Unknown
Frequency Unknown
Price: $13.35
91 used & new from $3.75

28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal, uninspired, spiteful cash-in, April 28, 2013
This review is from: Frequency Unknown (Audio CD)
I've followed Queensryche "story so far" as a more or less neutral fan of the band who's enjoyed nearly everything they've put out. I never got to see the "classic" lineup live (first catching them on the Q2K tour) and found them to be a good, sometimes great live act regardless. I've also professed to being annoyed with the conduct of many so-called Queensryche fans, both online and at the shows i've been to, who a) can't get over the loss of DeGarmo, b) keep slagging everything the band does after DeGarmo, and c) what do you think DeGarmo is doing now why hasn't DeGarmo returned what do you think DeGarmo would think about this etc, etc. So despite the ominous portents of a thoroughly bad Geoff Tate solo album and completely obvious cover art that shows the maturity of a ten-year-old, I was prepared to ignore the loud Internet fan forum predictions for this album. I wanted to believe that the songwriting team that was behind _O:M II_ (an album which I enjoyed), in tandem with a bunch of musicians I really like (including Dave Meniketti, Ty Tabor and half of thrash titans Forbidden) would still figure out how to put out something worthwhile. Well, I gotta say the crow is tasting pretty bitter today, because instead of even something workmanlike, Tate and co. have churned out a crass, ignoble cash-in of a record, one superficially more heavy but on par with more lackluster efforts like _American Soldier_ and _Dedicated To Chaos_.

With the lively enough first single "Cold," the straightforward "Dare" and "In The Hands of God" being decent enough tunes - the latter benefitting in part from some interesting textures and Ty Tabor's sympathetic soloing - things start out promisingly enough. But much of this, as has been written elsewhere is repetitive bitter riff-rock like "Slave," likeable enough at the chorus but otherwise unremarkable dirges like "Life Without You", the dull Linkin Park/Static-X electro-trickery behind "Everything," or mid tempo chugga-chugga like "Running Backwards" which despite a perfectly matched solo from K.K. Downing, just doesn't seem right being called Queensryche. Coupled with the flat production, it feels rushed and incomplete.

Now, the respectable path *could* have been to take the entirety of _Kings and Thieves_ along with the first ten songs here, put them together and cull some of the weaker numbers, consolidate it into one halfway decent album more true to the songwriting space Tate has been in, and release it as a Geoff Tate solo record. Tour with the new lineup, hell even celebrate O:M on the placards. Put your bad attitude into the music and let it fuel the performances on the road, and figure out the legal wrangling behind the scenes, where it would not cause further ill will towards the man and his career. At least that's what i'd figure anyone with any modicum of sense in the Tate camp might have advised him to do, whatever bad feelings there are amongst all the players.

But we the fans have to deal with _F.U._ being released as a Queensryche record. Thus we arrive with a crash to the four-song cash in at the end of the record. Even in and of itself the first ten songs of _F.U._would not merit such a low rating, but with the inclusion of what can only be described as the sonic evisceration of four classic Queensryche songs as "bonus" tracks, _F.U._ becomes a wholly offensive assault on the senses. These depressing renditions of "I Don't Believe In Love," "Empire," "Jet City Woman," and "Silent Lucidity" are fully deserving of the wrath of even the most repetitive DeGarmo-obsessed 'spergin internet forum guy. They are clueless, tuneless, dispirited performances, featuring badly out of key, passionless vocals from Tate, with merely competent tightar$ed backing musicianship, and flat paper-thin demo-quality production. They do not differ from the original songs with the intent of showing some artistic re-interpretation. They differ because the session musician (Martin Irigoyen) learned the cliff-note version of the songs quickly and Tate was so desperate to add them to the album to increase his publishing take, it seems he didn't even have time to warm up his voice. These are not valid versions of these songs, these are drunk karaoke-level insults that will provide Lou Reed/Metallica "Lulu" level hilarity for years to come for those fans courageous enough to make it through them. "Empire," with its ham-fisted, over-earnest attempt to duplicate the original intro of the song, and especially "Silent Lucidity" which shows the apparent frailty of Tate's vocals, are the most embarassing and egregious. Without these four awful renditions, this is a 2-1/2 star, maybe 3-star album on a good day. With them, well, Amazon won't let me give negative ratings, so one-star will have to do.

Add it all up in a single package, and you get what we can only hope is the nadir of this sad tale - but then there's the OTHER QR album coming in June and the possibility of both bands touring and competing this summer, and I think the bad vibes have only just begun. At least in this chapter, it really feels like Tate is trying to damage the brand, which seems suicidal, immature and ludicrous, but with the pap all over this plate what else are we supposed to believe at the end of the day? The cover art isn't aimed at the ex-bandmates, it's aimed straight at the fans, and that's a very sad sad thing.

Trampled Sun
Trampled Sun
9 used & new from $9.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fiery debut that shows a band with a lot of promise, September 21, 2012
This review is from: Trampled Sun (Audio CD)
Kyng's throwback, hard-rock power-trio format, with good riffs, and expressive, harmonized vocals (handled by guitarist/Chris Cornell doppelganger Eddie Veliz and bassist Tony Fernandez) appeals to me, a guy who grew up loving King's X and Soundgarden. Their songwriting is also surprisingly accomplished, and as a few other reviewers have touched upon, Kyng is rootsy, organic and natural - their debut is honest, raw-sounding and distinctive. For all the dazzling technicality on this album, the best thing about Kyng is that they are actually executing non-pitch corrected vocal harmonies, not screaming or growling with alternating sensitive-boy emo choruses, or handing their music to have the life super-compressed and sucked out of it by some Andy Sneap soundalike producer. These are problems that are plaguing a lot of modern metal and hard rock, making it faceless. Bands like Kyng (and Baroness, and Mastodon, maybe to a lesser extent bands like Volbeat or Diablo Swing Orchestra) are leading the charge to do something different, and as an old-school metalhead I appreciate that more than anything.

_Trampled Sun_ is first and foremost a bunch of strong songs by strong musicians (especially drummer Pepe Clarke - who is a VERY busy man most tracks), starting right out of the gate with anthemic first single "Falling Down" and the relentless uptempo riffing of "Pushing and Pulling." The band tries a bunch of different stops, too, such as the doomy "Trampled Sun," or the pop overtones in "Takes its Toll" or "Roses," and the outright headbang in "Trails of Tears." Even better is when the band really experiments with compositional variation, like the dreamy "Porcelain" ends with a nasty tumbling funk groove that fades into pure bass line (not a first album trick, by a long-shot!) Kyng do save the best for last, the magnificent "The Beauty of the End/Shorelines 1 & 2" which starts out meandering Pink Floyd, goes to straight up Slayer locktight thrash with melodic vox, and ends with a magnificent key-change coda drifting away with those massive, gorgeous dual-vocal harmony attack.

As a whole, the album doesn't quite hang together - with all the chameleon turns it plays more like a collection of well-crafted singles than a unified album, and one or two of the compositions take forced, awkward turns - such as the weird 7/4 breakdown in "Between the Blame." It could also be the use of several different producers and studios in piecing the album together. But there's such an embarassment of riches here it's hard to fault them. The band is currently touring the crap out of _Trampled Sun_ and earning every dollar of credit they get where it matters for a young band - on the road. If the next album holds true to the promise of this one, Kyng is going to be massive, and deservedly so.

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