Geoff Tate’s new solo record, Kings & Thieves is a drastic improvement from his first solo outing. The now former Queensryche singer went way out on a limb with his 2002 self-titled solo debut on Sanctuary Records. The record was experimental to say the least. And while fans should be proud of him for making the attempt to branch out and do something not so much like that of his main band, he seemed not so certain of himself. Enter Kings & Thieves. This record is the polar opposite of Tate’s previous solo effort. He comes across as being far more in his comfort zone, crafting songs that are more accessible to mainstream audiences. It is also an album that fans of Queensryche’s Q2K and Dedicated to Chaos will enjoy.
One of the best songs on this new release is the album’s second track, ‘Take a Bullet.’ The song’s musical side makes this song an instant radio hit for Tate and his backing band. The guitars are just heavy enough to make heads move. And drummer Bobby Blotzer (Ratt) keeps a solid beat throughout proving that less really can be more. Lyrically, it would almost seem that this song might have even been somewhat aimed at his now former band mates in QR. Tate opens the song singing, ‘Paybacks are a bitch sometimes/When you know/You’re pretty good/But never good enough/I know/You believe this show/That you’re drowning/Yeah, you’re going down/Swept away by my undertow.” He continues his lyrical attack in the song’s chorus. His forceful manner as sings, “Take a bullet/Yeah, take a bullet/For me/Take a bullet/I’d take a bullet/For you.” Considering the less than amicable split that seemed to have happened between Tate and his former band mates and its resultant fallout, one can only surmise that if this song is directed at them, what he is saying here. It’s just one example of what makes this album a worthwhile listen for fans of both Queensryche and Geoff Tate.
Another of the songs that make this album an improvement from his previous solo effort comes closer to the album’s end. That song is ‘Evil.’ Musically, it’s one of those songs that is more closely associated with material from the likes of Q2K than his previous solo release. That’s obvious right from the song’s opening strains. This piece comes across as Tate (or the song’s main character) being involved with someone who comes across as being somewhat deceptive. He sings, “When you say the things you say/Don’t know how you could/Mean it any other way/Why don’t you say it to my face/You don’t move me/You don’t fool me/What’s the matter/Cause what you give is what you get.” This is one of those songs to which every person can relate. Who out there hasn’t encountered people of such serpentine nature at one point or another in their lives? Even this critic has more than once. One can only wonder at whom this song was aimed. It definitely has the fire of someone who has been done wrong by another.
The previous pair of songs already discussed make up just a tiny portion of what fans will enjoy about Geoff Tate’s new solo album. There is at least one other song that fans will enjoy off of this record. It’s another piece that comes later in the album’s progression. That song is ‘These Glory Days.’ This is quite the uplifting song. It could be argued that this song is a form of social commentary as he sings, “If it’s wrong to do what’s right/Then I fear there’s no time/No time to waste.” That opening verse leads solidly into the song’s chorus in which Tate sings with the aid of a backing chorus, “Raise your hands/Shout out loud/Give the best you have/And don’t be afraid/In these glory days.” There’s no doubt left as to what he is saying here. Any doubt left is wiped out in the song’s final verse, with Tate singing, “Every day is a test/To do the right thing/Do your best/To live without lies/Gonna take it to a higher place.” Lyrically it’s along the lines of Queensryche’s ‘Sign of the Times’ from the band’s album, Hear in the Now Frontier because of its commentary. Musically, it’s just as closely related to music from that album, too. It makes for a very nice bridge between the iconic singer’s past and where he is now in his career. Again, it makes for just one more piece of the overall musical picture painted that will impress any long-time fan of Geoff Tate or even the most hardcore of Queensryche fans. Those who would love to hear the album’s other songs can pick it up now as it’s available both in stores and online. Kings & Thieves can be ordered directly through Geoff Tate’s official website, http://www.geofftate.com.
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