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Geoff Tate - Kings & Thieves (InsideOut Music)

By: David E. Gehlke

[6/10] Boy, Geoff Tate is really behind the proverbial 8-ball with this one, moreso than the last few Queensryche albums, of which it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to determine their appropriate level of suckiness. The ongoing drama over the Queensryche name hasn’t helped matters either, although it’s quite obvious the fans are on the band’s side, not Tate’s. But hey, that’s what happens when you punch your band members in the face, sign secret deals behind their back, and above all else, run the band into the ground with your noticeable distaste for metal.

Kings & Thieves is Tate’s second solo album, a noticeable improvement over his first solo foray back in 2002. For those who had the misfortune of hearing said debut solo platter, there was a legitimate reason why it earned several “Worse-of” nominations for 2002: it was comedic 80’s dance rock, sung by a dude once revered for his intelligent conceptual pieces and operatic vocals. And while no one can fault the guy for hiding his disdain for heavier music, in turn, he shouldn’t be surprised when his solo efforts (and non-metal) Queensryche albums flop.

Not much to get excited about on Kings & Thieves, as Tate and his backing band have opted for a stripped-down generic rock approach. Borderline sleep-inducing tempos are the focus here, along with fifth-rate, borrowed alternative rock riffs (see: “The Way I Roll”). Lyrically, there’s some real curious material here, some of which may or may not be discussing S&M and bondage (“Say U Luv It”), which is unsettling, to say the least. The only song here with any sort of pop is “Dark Money,” a track that could probably hang with the drab and listless Tribe album from 2003.

Suffice it to say, 2012 hasn't been a good year for Tate. Aside from the split with the ‘ole ‘Ryche, his image in the ever-unforgiving metal public eye is at an all-time low, and an album like Kings & Thieves is only going to set him back even more. However, Tate has longed to get out of the metal box…albums like this gives people the opportunity to give him that extra little nudge.

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