“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.
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.