It is unheard of for any music release to create such a vitriolic response that a contest would be held to honor the contestant with the most animosity towards it, and awarded with a very cool prize to boot. But that is exactly what has happened with Queensryche’s “Frequency Unknown.” To be fair, this isn’t an ordinary record release from a band with legendary status in the hard rock genre. This is the first record to market from a band that has been fractured by inner turmoil and is now embroiled in court proceedings to determine which version of Queensryche will end up with the right to use the name.
Geoff Tate is the only original Queensryche member in the version of the band that released “Frequency Unknown.” That doesn’t sit well with fans who believe that this release should have been a Tate solo record, which may be why this album is being judged by impossibly unfair standards.
In a recent interview with Tate, we discussed the conclusions that many have jumped to about “Frequency Unknown.” The full interview will be featured in the near future, but the main thing that stuck with me after a lengthy conversation is that Tate considers himself an artist who will not be musically limited by the parameters that others have set for him. To him, art is about expression, not about catering to the wishes of the masses. With this perspective in mind, I’d like to offer my thoughts about “Frequency Unknown” to those who have not pre-judged the record based on what others are saying.
First, let me start by saying that I am a lifelong Queensryche fan who would like nothing more than to have all of the original members (including Chris DeGarmo) playing together in the band. But since the chances of that happening are almost non-existent, my only choice is to listen to, and fairly evaluate, the music that is released.
One of the things that I have always loved about Queensryche is that they never settled upon a sound that defined them. Every album was unique in its own way. I’ll be the first to admit that the changes have always taken getting used to with each new release. Queensryche has never been about ear candy that quickly grabs your attention, but lacks staying power. Quite the contrary! Every Queensryche album grew on me the more that I listened to it, and “Frequency Unknown” is no exception. The more I listen to it, the more I like it.
If this was released as a Geoff Tate solo album, I think that the reaction would have been vastly different because there are some great songs and outstanding musicianship on the record. It is a very unique sounding album, but with all different musicians playing on it, that is to be expected. In fact, if it didn’t sound different, you can be sure that people would be panning Tate for putting together a bunch of knock-offs of the original band.
“Frequency Unknown” is a diverse hard rock album that will be appreciated by those who listen to it with an open mind. Instead of comparing it to the albums that have been released throughout the Queensryche’s illustrious history, imagine “FU” as a debut album from a new band, because that is essentially what it is. Instead of complaining that Tate isn’t singing in a register that is well beyond the range of most singers, appreciate his distinct singing style that has evolved over time. Instead of mocking the lyrical content as sour grapes towards his former bandmates, put yourself in Tate’s place and appreciate that his writing comes from the heart and captures a very real moment in time.
To highlight individual songs on “Frequency Unknown” would not do the album justice. The fact of the matter is that my favorite songs change with each listen, just as they always have with every album that Queensryche has put out over the past three decades. If you are a Queensryche fan, you owe it to yourself to listen to the album several times in its entirety before jumping to any conclusions based on the opinions of those who are prone to knee-jerk reactions in a short attention span world.