Something Else! sneak peek: Queensryche vs. Queensryche, “Cold” and “Redemption” (2013)

Color me surprised. When Queensryche split with Geoff Tate, spawning a couple of bands named Queensryche and a real headache for fans and anyone involved in the band, my money was very much on the Tate-less version. I’ve found most of Queensryche’s post-Empire work to be bland and uninteresting, and I found Tate’s latest solo album pretty much unlistenable. So I’m a little shocked to find that, as both bands release their first singles, there’s a competition.

Since it came out first, I’ll start with “Redemption.” When I first heard it last week, I was impressed, and it’s got me looking forward to the June release of this version’s record. It sounds more like the Queensryche that I love than anything I’ve heard from them in a long time. There’s definitely a 1980s vibe to this track. Todd La Torre sounds enough like Tate that it’s not jarring to the listener. Tate in his prime was certainly a better vocalist. There was a character to his vocal that La Torre doesn’t have, and admittedly there are times when La Torre sounds like a guy trying to sound like Tate. That said, his vocals are solid and impressive.

I absolutely love the bridge going into the chorus. It’s catchy as hell, and it might be the best piece of music that I’ve heard from Queensryche since Empire. It should be the chorus. But then they go for this big, soaring chorus that’s not nearly as interesting as the pre-chorus.

It’s not Mindcrime, but I really like it. I’d give it a B-minus.

Now, on to the Tate version and “Cold,” the first single off Frequency Unknown, an album title with a message for his former bandmates, due out later this month. I laughed a little at the title and thought if it was, indeed, an FU, it might be worth listening to.

There’s no doubt that Tate has surrounded himself with an outstanding band with guys like bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Simon Wright. Are these guys to build a project on? I don’t know. They’re excellent musicians, but both are, in a way, career-long hired guns. Wright had solid stints with Dio and AC/DC, and Sarzo, after the dissolution of Quiet Riot, has bounced from band to band. The results, though, are pretty stunning. At least to me.

Tate, as he has in recent years, opts for the more modern rock sound. But I have to admit that opening riff from Craig Locicero does have something of a Queensryche feel to it, maybe an Empire-like sound. The verse is pretty damned catchy. Much like the song from his former bandmates, the chorus is a little bland, but when the verse rolls back around I’m grooving along again. It’s far and away better than anything from that solo album. Former (current? Who the hell knows?) Queensryche guitarist Kelly Gray pushes it over the edge with his guest solo, and I’m finding the song running over again in my head when it’s over.

My grade? A solid B.

So, round one, much to my astonishment, I give to Tate, but by the very narrowest of margins.

Folks, hang on, we might have a contest here. Who would have thought?

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

11 Comments

  1. Tate defiantly wins this round by sounding solid and much modern while hes ex band mates are trying to recreate the sound of empire/promised land era and their single sounds like a b side out of one of these albums, now I am ready for round 2!

  2. The problem is that none of them knows how to write songs any more.
    And they should hire a real producer who knows what he’s doing. Someone who admired the first albums. A producer who says: “F**k you I will decide everything. You shut up and do what you been told to do. And stop playing that blues-riff before I smack your fingers.”

    It’s really sad but Queensrÿche are never gonna be a great band again.

  3. erghgheatme says:

    Lukas Rossi co wrote the single with Geoff Tate. He wrote one another song for music on this album. The whole album is just Geoff Tate, his producer Jason Slater and bunch of outside songwriters none of which are in his current version of Queensryche and that includes longtime contributor Kelly Gray. Its probably the last Geoff Tate solo album to be released under the Queensryche brand name anyway.

  4. John 8:7

  5. james tarback says:

    Fred it’s obvious you are an Empire band wagon.You are crazy… Cold is the same Boring Tate music that we have grown to dislike over the last 15 years… Sometimes stepping aside or away says a lot about the character of a person and Tate shows no class..its hard to like a piece of music from a person who is ignorant and so full of himself..
    You give zero credit to Todd La Torre man off the streets and a person who is reigniting music hidden for all these years..

    • To my ears La Trro sounds like trying to imitate GT and I would prefer him bringing his own style to the band instead of trying to fill in for Tate…

  6. Fred Phillips says:

    Actually, Empire is one of my least favorite of the early records. I’m much more likely to listen to Mindcrime or the self-titled EP. You may want to revisit this review: http://somethingelsereviews.com/2012/11/17/on-second-thought-queensryche-operation-mindcrime-1988/.

    I agree mostly with your opinion of Tate, and I’m no Tate fan by any stretch of the imagination, as you’ll see here: http://somethingelsereviews.com/2012/11/10/geoff-tate-kings-and-thieves-2012/

    I also give La Torre plenty of credit. It’s great to hear songs like “Queen of the Reich” being played again, and he nails them. But there’s also a good bit of the generic power metal vocalist in his voice, too, which I don’t like. I stand by my statement that he’s a really good singer, but doesn’t have the character that Tate did in his prime.

  7. Fred Phillips,

    I agree with your assessment of LaTorre’s vocals having a bit less character than Tate’s in his prime. Although I still think LaTorre is tremendous in his own right.

    That being said, from a songwriting standpoint, “Redemption” has way character than “Cold” does. That’s not to say that “Redemption” is necessarily that great, but “Cold” is so generic that it sounds like it could have been ghostwritten by Nickelback…and you gave it a better score than “Redemption”? Argue your way out of that one.

  8. Fred Phillips says:

    I never said La Torre wasn’t good. He sounds great on the old stuff in the live clips I’ve heard. I just don’t like that generic power metal vocal that creeps in here and there. It’s one of the reasons I burned out on that genre — tons of singers that sound alike.

    I like both songs. The choruses of both are boring. The verse of “Cold” just stuck with me a little more. That’s the whole basis of my rating. The pre-chorus on “Redemption,” though is great. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard from ‘Ryche in many years. If the whole song had that kind of feel, it would be a slam dunk.

    No one is more surprised than me that I like the Tateryche song just a little (and I’m talking about a hair’s breadth) more. I’ve thought he was the main problem the band had for many years now. But I call it like I see it. Obviously, lots of folks don’t see it the same. ;)

  9. Fred,

    I would have to hypothesize that you were in a very strange mood when you listened to both of these. I absolutely cannot retain the melody from “Cold”‘s verses. To me, it’s the most unmemorable thing in either song.

    On the other hand, I am rooting for the Tate-less version of this band, because Tate seems to have become soulless, and the other guys seem to have a lot of heart.

  10. Turducken says:

    Tate’s new tune is far too bland and generic. Nothing memorable about it to my ears after the first play. And that had been the primary problem with most of pre-breakup Queensryche’s most recent music for me.

    The original lineup’s new tune is a little less orthodox, a bit riskier musically, but does stray back during the chorus into that slightly-too-poppy feel of “Hear in the Now Frontier” (and that’s not a good thing, IMO.) But overall, I give the musical edge here to the old crew sans Tate.

    Either way, I feel like we’ve all lost something…Tate’s voice has a matchless quality, and the original bandmembers also bring something to the party that no replacement musicians can duplicate.

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