Knowing this would be a grueling task, I made the decision to get shithoused and review the album as I give it my first full and dedicated listen. This review is edited only for spelling errors and brought to you by Highland Park 12 and Bombay Sapphire. (Imagine what I could afford to drink if I got paid for this).
Before getting to the music, let’s go over a little background information about Frequency Unknown. Geoff Tate has his group of guys that perform live with him, but features a host of musicians on this album, including: Lita Ford, KK Downing, some guy from Y&T, Chris Poland, Paul Bostaph, and a few no-names. Literally, no-names: Tate struggles to remember more than two guests when asked about it in radio interviews.
The writing process started in January and within five months the album is on the shelves. Tate is on record as describing the album as “stupidly heavy” and recently stated he already has ideas for a new album and hopes to hit the studio over the summer. Keep in mind, the court case reconvenes in November. FU has already undergone a remix due to the album sounding like Kelly Gray and whoever else played guitar on this shoved Monster cables up their asses, plugged into a Fischer Price beginner guitar amp and farted several times with some drums in the background and some assclown whining over the top of it. The guy who was supposed to remix it dropped the project after five days because he realized he was already busy. The album cover features a hairy-knuckled fist with three rings- first an F, the trirÿche, and a U. Tate scoffed at the idea that this was a dig at his former bandmates when asked about it by Eddie Trunk, but did not offer an alternative explanation. Perhaps its about fisting.
Onto the fisting! Or the sonic equivalent of it…
I’ve already expressed my thoughts at the album opener “Cold” so I’ll skip over that. Taters does a semi-rap and says the word “fuck” in “Dare” which made for a good chuckle. I wish he would stop singing like he’s trying to recapture the cool-cat vibe of “Della Brown” and just move on. He’s been trying to do this with nearly every song since Empire. At least when Steve Harris tries to top “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” he keeps it to one song an album. Holy shit, is that a fucking xylophone in this song? This fuckhead think he’s Frank Zappa! Zappa had better facial hair and Tate could never sell a shirt featuring him sitting naked on a toilet like the late Zappa can. Now some attempt at a heavy chug part comes in after the xylophone. I’m so lost.
Plus one point on “Give it to You” for forgetting about trying to reach some high notes and going for a grittier vocal effort. Self-awareness? Doubtful. This song sounds like two different songs cut and pasted together. Third track in and there’s the line “how do you like me so far?” I don’t, Geoff. This is unbearable.
“Slave” starts off like every Korn song does. There’s a tremelo picking verse, which is surprising, but Tate shows major restraint in his vocal patterns. There’s some pun lyrics on the word “slave” like “dragging your chains” and something that sounds like “you’re his bitch.” “Nothing like a bitch for the rich man to fuck.” I think that’s what he said. When he used to drop the f-bomb it was cool, like in “Spreading the Disease.” I’m gonna assume that this out of context fast solo was played by Chris Poland. Just a guess. It’s definitely not one of the touring dudes. Kelly Gray’s sausage fingers can’t solo that fast and Robert Sarzo looks like he can barely move. Seriously, the guy looks like some bastard timechild of Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars thrust into 2025 to show them what they’ll look like. “Slave” abruptly ends sounding like they ran out of ideas.
“In the Hands of God” begins with Tate doing a countoff. Fuck, that’s funny. He does some call and response with himself. The chorus actually sounds a little cool, like it could have been off Promised Land. Tate repeats the line “Are you ready?” over and over, and I hope it isn’t in reference to the fist on the album cover.
“Running Backwards” features some strange industrial-like sounds, featuring a rejected Satriani wah lead over a Sepultura groove. Tate starts half-rapping again and I almost fell out of my seat laughing at the 1:00 mark. Maybe he should team up with David Vincent. Running backwards seems to be a perfect way to describe this album so far. Personally, I can run surprisingly fast backwards, but this album far outpaces me.
The drumming on this is atrocious. Paul Bostaph must have been on a warpath to prove that playing drums on a band’s worst albums (Slayer) wasn’t just a fluke. At least he had already cut his teeth in some nu-metal grooves prior to this audio act of terror.
“Life Without You” is a bit of a ballad that sounds like a Christrock song. I still haven’t heard one fucking guitar harmony. Geoff said in an interview with Eddie Trunk that the guitar sounds of Rÿche makes it unique, yet features no definitive guitar playing here, despite calling this (and everything after Promised Land) a Queensrÿche album.
Piano. Edgy! The last Rÿche song with piano that I liked was “Someone Else?” The piano gets BURIED in the mix for the rest of this song, because, you know, the guitar has to fucking shine and shit. Actually, the playing on the verse isn’t all that bad. Maybe it can be filed under the ugly fat friend scenario where it just sounds better compared to all the other riffs here. Still no fucking harmonies. About ¾ of the way through, a silly solo plays over the piano with the rhythm dropping out, leaving Tate’s voice to evoke some sort of emotion. This chorus is stupid.
Up next is “Fallen” and I think they’re trying to do a Bon Jovi “Dead or Alive” thing here for a bit. Fucked if I know.
Finally! The last song on the album…before four rerecordings of classics. The song opens with a bland acoustic guitar and Geoff’s reverb-saturated voice. This song tries to channel some epic vibe as an album closer.
Now for the re-recordings…
“I Don’t Believe In Love” is the first victim to this abortion worthy cast of musicians. The recording sounds like a soundcheck at a 10,000 seat venue. I’m getting the spins from all this reverb. Like a soundcheck, this is much like a live performance in that Tate doesn’t come anywhere near the higher notes and ducks under them. At least in the studio he can’t just hold the mic out and let the crowd sing the lines.
“Next Message” — You still can’t fucking sing! This song has only been omitted from a Queensrÿche setlist twice since Empire came out. The album featured a pristine production and this version couldn’t sound more lifeless. It sounds like Tate has a cold. The signature backing vocals ruin this rerecording even further.
“Jet City Woman” is next. Rumor has it that original vocal tracks were spliced in with some of these rerecordings. I’d hate if that were true because my last goal is to fucking offend somebody. I can’t help but notice that the high notes in the first verse sound exactly like the original. I’d give him some credit if he hit those notes in “I Don’t Believe In Love” or if the second verse didn’t sound so different, save for some more high notes. If he hit these here, he can hit them in other places, which he doesn’t.
Fuck “Silent Lucidity.” The original and rerecording both suck.
Geoff Tate is clearly disillusioned and out of touch. He doesn’t want to play metal. He knows the fans aren’t happy with the output of the band from the last 20 years. He isn’t playing any new material on tour and is performing Operation: Mindcrime in full. The man is very aware he will probably lose his rights to perform under the Queensrÿche name after November. He rushed to put out an album with the name on it and might try to squeeze out another. He saw his paycheck fly out the window when he got kicked out. Knowing the fans crave heavier music, he tried to make a rhythm heavy album. He doesn’t know what the fans want. He doesn’t know what metal is supposed to sound like from a band that helped revolutionize the genre in the ‘80s.
Just fucking give up, dude. Go play the style of music you want to. Lose 25 lbs, stop smoking, and take some vocal lessons. If you want to keep smoking, at least hit up Ray Alder and ask him how he keeps his voice in shape. Putting this album out and trying to make it heavy isn’t what you needed to try to do to stick it to your former band members. You should have strengthened your voice and made a conscious effort to put out a good album instead of a cash grab. You went for the money. Go fuck yourself for trying to squeeze a few extra dollars out of some oblivious fans. Oh, and shame on you, Rudy Sarzo. You’re better than this.
Rather than using a numerical rating system, I’ll just list things that are better than this album:
Accidentally sitting on your balls, Sarah Silverman’s jokes, the New York Jets, sitting on a toilet seat covered in pee, jacking off to the winter clothing section of a JC Penney catalog, baseball double-headers, William Hung, pink eye, Blaze Bailey singing “The Trooper,” broccoli (fucking disgusting), dipping buffalo wings in ranch dressing, using a dental dam, Internet Explorer, waking up and finding your dog is dead, Ted Nugent’s political views, Sharon Osbourne naked, smelling Zakk Wylde’s beard, John Cena, owning every season of “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” and whiskey dick.
Buttrÿche and roll.