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Coherence issues in the afterlife. - 37%

hells_unicorn, December 18th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Frontiers Records

The relationship between Geoff Tate and Queensryche's fan base has become a twisted variation of a love/hate relationship where two loyalist camps have emerged, all of them united in their professed love of what Queensryche was and should continue to be, but otherwise divided on which side of the coin they love or hate. It's a situation that is reaching maximum polarization and no one seems to be fanning the flames more than that of Geoff Tate himself, who has taken a fancy to photographing himself flipping people off, most likely these people are those who have taken more to the band still carrying the Queensryche name and actually producing music under it that does justice to where the band was prior to the 1990s. It could be argued that both these bands are drawing heavily from the past, to the point where one might argue that both of them are still living in it, and the dividing line is that Tate seems to think it a more original approach to draw from where his former band was 13 years ago as opposed to 27 years ago, his project's name not withstanding.

Dwelling upon this obviously tangentially related subject to Operation: Mindcrime's second studio album Resurrection is relevant as the consequential music populating it seems to correspond quite heavily to Tate's "fuck you if you don't like it" attitude. While this approach has actually fed a little bit of liveliness into this album compared to its extremely gimpy predecessor The Key, it finds itself generally stuck in the same meandering mess of atmospheric, progressive rock tinged plodding. The only thing clear about this album is that it definitely makes an appearance at being structurally similar to the album that bears this band's name, complete with the multiplicity of introductory material that probably could have been put together into a singular song, followed by a consistently mid-paced set of songs, some being more aggressive than others. The problem is that there aren't any really effective hooks to tie these songs together, let alone put them on the same level as "Revolution Calling" or "Eyes Of A Stranger".

Instead of putting out an album of songs, what Tate has done here is put out an hour plus jam session that is broken up into individual tracks in a manner that appears to be that of proper songs. Some times there is an inkling of power to the arrangement, such as "Taking On The World" and "A Smear Campaign" which have occasional moments that might be mistaken for heavy metal, but more in that coasting, quasi-grunge character that typified "Hear In The Now Frontier" and occasionally painted over with some out of place saxophone playing out of Tate, who in addition to trying to retread area covered by Pink Floyd decades ago minus the tact and nuance, is trying his hand at being a smooth jazz proponent while supposedly also trying to be angsty. That's sort of the paradox surrounding Tate's whole approach, he seems to think that mixing a bunch of stuff that doesn't really go together and presenting it all in a manner that borders on stylistically incomprehensible is what anybody other than himself and a group of sycophantic yes men want to hear, or to put it simply, he thinks that being original automatically means being good.

There has got to be some kind of an audience for what Tate is doing as he shows little signs of slowing down and has the confidence of a lot of well known and respected musicians supporting him, but I can't say that I truly understand how it all works. If nothing else, it is clear that Tate has no interest in appealing to most of Queensryche's early fan base that didn't take to the changes that came about in the later 90s, let alone the ones that are hoping to hear something that sounds remotely like what was done on the Operation: Mindcrime album or even it's lesser sequel for that matter. Maybe it's the top hat that is possessing Geoff Tate to behave in a manner similar to the Alice In Wonderland character that he somewhat resembles with it on, but I think I'll pass on this tea party and any future ones that sound like this.