REVIEW: Queensryche – Tribe (2003)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

We continue with the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  We’re looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  Today, please welcome to the stage, Mr. Geoff Tate.

Scan_20160228QUEENSRŸCHE – Tribe (2003 Sanctuary)

Queensryche fans have had a lot to deal with over the last 20 years.  Uneven albums, lineup changes, framed by occasional flashes of brilliance were the norm up until recently.  The most significant obstacle was the 1997 departure of Chris DeGarmo, their chief songwriter and beloved guitarist.  Overall burnout caused by band turmoil led DeGarmo to retire from music altogether and follow his dream of becoming a pilot.  Later statements from the band (during their legal battle with former singer Geoff Tate) claimed outright that he left because of “Geoff Tate’s personal demeanor” with the guitarist.  In his absence, Tate took over the role of primary songwriter and began leading the band.  Their first post-DeGarmo album was 1999’s Q2k, a pretty heavy record that was largely dismissed by fans for being a departure from style and quality.  DeGarmo’s replacement guitarist Kelly Gray was let go shortly after the Live Evolution album.  Struggling to come up with material for another album, Queensryche called Chris DeGarmo up on the telephone.  The guitarist softened his stance and readied himself to make a full return to the band.  He wrote, played guitar in the studio and even took part in photo shoots.  Fans hoped for something special that would live up to the Queensryche legacy from this reunion.  It was not to last.  The same old strains returned between DeGarmo and Tate, and it was over before it started.

Fandom felt the wind taken out of its sails, and eyebrows were raised at the sudden second departure.  The released album Tribe featured five co-writes from Chris DeGarmo, and one from new Queensryche guitarist Mike Stone (ex-Peter Criss), who was hired shortly after.  Both Stone and DeGarmo receive credit as special guests.  Upon listening, best hopes for the album were dashed.  Tribe‘s 10 songs come off as half-baked outtakes from a better album that was  never made.  Some of the blame must go to the production, a flat and dry sounding affair.  However that cannot explain the dull songs.  It’s not all bad — “Open Your Eyes” features a damn fine, exotic sounding riff, probably contributed by DeGarmo.  They just couldn’t construct a memorable song around it, and Tate couldn’t seem to get his singing into gear.

The sole Mike Stone co-write, “Losing Myself” is a programmed mess of samples without a song.  The chorus sounds like an outtake from the dreary Hear in the Now Frontier album.  Same with the acoustic “Falling Behind”, which is too bad because it’s one of the songs on which you can hear Chris DeGarmo’s playing.  In fact, Tribe in general might be considered Hear in the Now Part II, so similar are they.

The only real quality musical moment happens on the DeGarmo co-write “Desert Dance”.  Exotic and heavy but with an actual song built out of it, “Desert Dance” gets you moving.  Drummer Scott Rockenfield throws a lot of percussion tricks into it, emphasizing the exotic (this is true of the album in general).  Tate actually sounds alive on this, becoming the cheerleader of the album.  “Desert Dance” was the only song that had me reaching for the volume knob to turn it up.  One other decent track is “Rhythm of Hope”, a co-write with Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield that sounds like it was an effort to be the second “Silent Lucidity”.  Unfortunately that moment has passed.

It’s worth noting that the only member to have a songwriting credit on every song in Geoff Tate.  I place the blame for Tribe‘s lack of life at his feet.  The album is only 41 minutes, but it is a long 41 minutes.  Difficult to finish, hard to like and easy to forget, Tribe remains a chore today.

2/5 stars

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41 comments

  1. Think I might only have listened to this once! Again, like with Jovi, only bought it cause I saw it in a bargain bin. Had pretty much given up on them at this point. Didn’t DeGarmo do his own thing around this time? “Spys” in the band’s name is something like that? Ever heard that?

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  2. I like Tribe. I think its better than the two that preceded it and the final two with Tate.
    That said it aint as good as the EP-PromisedLand era or the Todd era.

    I think this one and Mindcrime 2, while not good enough by the band’s high standards, are better than their legacy suggests, for me at least.

    I listen to this and OM2 quite a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ack, Jimmy, we’re going to have to disagree on this one! I was on the verge of reviewing Mindcrime II soon, but sadly it just didn’t make enough impression. When I play the double live Mindcrime at the Moore CD, the second part always drags. The last three songs especially. For me.

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  3. I think this was the album that caused me to jump ship. I didn’t think it was awful….2/5 seems like a fair grade…but I never had the desire to go back to it. Eventually I got rid of the CD and stopped buying their albums. I’ve never regretted those decisions.

    On a somewhat related note, is their MTV Unplugged appearance considered legendary by ‘Ryche fans? I thought they were amazing but I’ve rarely if ever heard it mentioned. So many lesser Unplugged performances by other artists are more highly regarded but I think theirs was among the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh great question Rich. I believe one or two songs from that unplugged may have been released as B-sides, if that. I don’t know why it’s rarely talked about. Perhaps just because it came on the cusp of the next wave, and Pearl Jam and Nirvana obviously made big waves with their Unplugged’s.

      Let’s be glad Poison didn’t!

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  4. Okay going to go the other way here as really liked this record and looking back think too it has stood up far better than MCII and Q2K.

    While there’s a couple duds and Losing Myself is probably ‘the’ worst thing to be stamped Queensryche (and at track2, what were they thinking?) not only was this a step in the right direction some of its material was fantastic!

    Like Mike said that riff in Open was great and thought the song was awesome, title track was neat and The Art Of Life had Degarmo stamped all over it.

    Justified (from their Best Of package) was an unfinished song from the Tribe sessions and it would have value added making this a better album had it been included (Blood which did make the album was suspected to be unfinished also, it’s thought DeGarmo departed before it was completed!?)

    No it wasn’t their best and not even they themselves could match the quality of their own back catalog at this time, but sorry Mike, FAR from a turf think the record is, errr, solid (naff! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people prefer when a turd is solid! Me, I would have to call this a runny one!

      I need to give Justified another listen. I recall never being that impressed with it. I didn’t know it was from the Tribe sessions.

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      1. It’s thought Hostage in its first form was written during the same sessions also, but not completed in time for the record.

        Make sure when listening to Justified ya keep an ear on the lyrics too. Considering it’s a DeGarmo written track them words could be viewed one way or another hmmm!? ;)

        As is would give Tribe a 3, had they ditched the terrible Losing Myself for Justified it woulda easily been a 3.5 (a 7 on that scale) either way still quite fond of the record!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The one that I did like, and must wrap my head around for a review, is American Soldier. It’s an opaque album, and it’s weighty so I need to give it the proper review it deserves, but fairly.

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        2. Awesome can’t wait for your American Soldier review Mike, agree some real magic was found fer that even if was written by Tate Slater and outsiders…

          That said, Tate did sound inspired and Wilton saved thet day contributing all guitars giving the whole shebang a very much, almost old-school Ryche sound (case in the If I Were King where Wilton gives us not one but TWO moments of splendour😊)

          Look forward to your thoughts Mike \m/

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  5. It’s not their worst album, not as bad as Dedicated To Chaos – what a load of crap that one was. I think it’s better than Q2K as well. But it sure is underwhelming – and then some. But Open is a damn great tune, it sounds like classic Queensryche to me.

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  6. I saw Queensryche open for Judas Priest in 2005, so I guess it was in support of this album, but they did play some off the yet to be released Operation Mindcrime II.
    I’m glad I saw Tate right at the end of his relevance.
    He still sounded good then, as did Rob Halford. It was a really good show.
    As for this album I never heard enough good things to make we want to buy it. Now I know that I don’t need to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah they were playing I’m American and Hostage from OM:II on that tour. I think with the hindsight of how good Queensryche are now, it’s easy to look back on this period and say they weren’t bad but not as good as they could have been.

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    1. Promised Land is an amazing album, I think. Maybe their best one, even. And the last one with DeGarmo, Hear In The Now Frontier, was far from useless. It wasn’t great, too uneven, but it sure had some great tunes on it.
      Things hit shit creek when DeGarmo left for sure.

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      1. I didnt love Promiseland…. a couple good songs too much filler to me. Actually thought Hear in the Now Frontier was descent as an after their prime album. Im not even sure what the new QR means anymore…is that the band or Tates version…either way…after going to the Cabaret tour…I really have hard time listening to any of their stuff. First Four releases will always be my Queensryche. Even Empire got too over produced although I loved it when it came out….Guess I am just a grumpy old listener now lol

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      2. Tate’s band is named Operation Mindcrime. There’s just one QR now. And I agree with Mike, the new QR is really damn good.

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  7. Have seen new Queenryche recently. They kick ass. Tate was great in his day but got a little too “creative” towards the end. Todd LaTorre has injected new life into the band.

    Liked by 1 person

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