Geoff Tate - 'Kings & Thieves' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 15, 2013    
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A very solid, intelligent and mature album.

What started out as a side project eventually turned into his only project completed in 2012 after his much publicised fall-out with Queensryche. Fortunately for Geoff he had long-time friends and sometime QR guitarist Kelly Gray (who also handles the bass) and keyboard player Randy Gane on board at the time and with the addition of drummer Gregg Gilmore he was able to focus on his solo album whilst putting to one side the acrimonious situation that was raging around him.

As a fan of film and ‘art’ with David Lynch and the Scott brothers among those he admires opening track ‘She Slipped Away’ has a definite Lynch inspired narrative and part 2 of a trilogy he started with ‘Drive’ from the last QR record. Sonically it reminds me of the ‘American Soldier’ record as it’s a fast paced driving rocker with Tate’s unmistakable latter day vocals and Gray’s sonically charged guitar riffs and melodies giving it that ethereal Queensryche stamp and feel. ‘Take A Bullet’ lyrically explores relationships and friendships and kind of asks the question ‘how far are you prepared to go to for that particular person?’ It has a punchy and stabbing chorus as Gray’s dirty, grungy down-turned riffs interact with his scattering bass as Geoff’s rhythmic singing against Gilmore’s beat explore the song. Notable also for Geoff’s typical phrasing, as it highlights the type of singing he’s most comfortable with these days. He’s probably never going to explore the high range again but his deep rich vocal expression entirely suits his changed status.

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‘In The Dirt’ has a cool breezy tempo mixed with subtle Hammond as Gray’s remarkable solo shows hints of Ritchie Blackmore. ‘Say U Luv It’ has experimental sounds with suitably strange rhythms set against a temperate drum beat with lyrics about dark and nasty bondage – not quite what you would expect, huh? ‘Tomorrow’ is a slow number with Tait’s wailings and emotional vocals giving it a haunting feel whilst Gray’s eastern tinged solo adds a nice flavour. ‘Dark Money’ is more mainstream and rhythmic with some lovely sonic tones on Gray’s solo, dark money being a phrase coined about groups of filthy rich people with sums that resemble monopoly money who tend to fund candidates’ campaign elections in the US. ‘These Glory Days’ is a celebrational almost spiritual song with a recurring riff but the best for me is saved to last. In ‘Change’ and ‘Waiting’ you have two distinctive ballads. The former being piano and acoustic led and incredibly emotional with shades of ‘Silent Lucidity’ featuring strings and brass on the intro and some wonderful electric soloing from Gray. And then you have the latter with Geoff’s measured singing and sax atop a Hammond underscore, crisp drum beat and steady bass line with wonderful melodic sonics from Gray to fully complement the song.

Hats off to a superb production by Tate and Kelly Gray’s exceptional mixing this is a very solid, intelligent and mature album that demands to be listened to on headphones.

Carl Buxton

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