There’s been plenty of controversy coming out of the Queensrÿche camp over the last few months. First off, in late May the group announced Crimson Glory’s Todd LaTorre as their frontman in an outside venture called Rising West that would play classic Queensrÿche songs and work on new material, presumably because lead singer Geoff Tate was going to focus on his second solo album for the rest of the year. The announcement was met with a mixed response as LaTorre’s style is very similar to Tate’s, although subsequent live shows proved he can handle and fit the material. But then things got uglier as Queensrÿche fired Tate in June after 31 years of writing, recording and touring together. Conflicts between band members, physical altercations and the singer insulting their Rocklahoma audience in May helped fuel that decision.
Soon enough, LaTorre became the new frontman for Queensrÿche. Tensions between Tate and his former bandmates soon ran high as legal documents were filed and made public, with the veteran metal group, who aired a long list of grievances, retaining the right to use the name through to an impending court date in late 2013. (However, Tate still controls their website.) Fan loyalties were also divided as some proclaimed the band dead without their perennial lead singer, while others welcomed the change as they felt the group’s recent material had become stale.
So what musical output has been offered from both sides? Geoff Tate released his second solo album Kings and Thieves earlier this month, and it has been met with mixed response and slow sales. Then again, this is a solo project, and those rarely fare as well as those of a musician’s main group and often deviate from it. Tate’s work is continuing along the same vein as the last Queensrÿche album Dedicated To Chaos, which bitterly divided fans with its less heavy, groove-oriented sound, although this approach works better in a solo context.
Now, to build a buzz and stave off naysayers, Queensrÿche are finally offering up a 90-second preview of their next album, which is due out sometime next year. Presumably culled from demos, the results sound closer to classic Rÿche and are more exciting than anything we have heard from them in the last few years, with melodic guitar hooks and soaring, multi-layered vocals invoking their classic era. Whether all of the forthcoming tunes will be as dynamic remains to be heard, but this sounds like a fresh start. The group reportedly goes into the studio next month with co-producer James Barton, who worked on the group’s 1994 album Promised Land.
Is this the change that many people have been waiting for? Queensrÿche fans can listen to a sneak peek and at least make a snap judgment. It sounds pretty good to these years.