So by now you’ve probably heard the news: Geoff Tate and Queensryche have parted ways, and the remaining members – briefly known as Rising West for two shows in Seattle recently – will continue as Queensryche with Todd La Torre on vocals.
As a fan of both Tate and Queensryche, I feel both bummed out and excited by the news. I’m sad to see an effective end called to one of my favourite bands. Queensryche always meant a lot to me, especially Promised Land, for many reasons – Tate’s vocals, his lyrical intelligence and creativity, the band’s overall sense of melody, the rhythmic interplay, and of course great guitar work. I always respected the band’s earlier, more metal days, but for me Queensryche were at their best when they were pushing and pulling between their heavier sounds and their more melodic side. Check out the song “Open” on the overlooked Tribe album or “Right Side Of My Mind” from Q2K for examples of what I mean. Yeah, my view on Queensryche is not the popular one (Y’know, “Everything after Mindcrime/Empire/Promised Land/Hear In The Now Frontier [select one depending on which came out when you were still a teenager] sucked”), but as a listener all you can do is respond to what affects you emotionally, and there it is.
But as someone who really liked Geoff Tate’s solo album, I’m also excited by this outcome. Tate will now be free to explore whatever it is he wants to do as a solo artist, without clashing against the idea of what Queensryche is – an idea held by fans, his former bandmates and maybe even Tate himself. There seemed to be a definite disconnect between what Queensryche as a collective wanted to do and what fans would let them do. But now the fans who wanted the older, heavier stuff will be happy, and the fans who followed Tate beyond Operation: Mindcrime into Empire, Promised Land and the like may just find something they can connect with on Tate’s forthcoming solo album (which he has referred to as hard rock with progressive influences). And the rest of the guys will be free to play the heavier stuff and to create new material in that vein. And fans who liked both the earlier heavy material and the later stuff might just have two cool bands to follow now instead of one. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what Michael Wilton gets up to now that he’s being freed up to write heavier Queensryche material again.
By the way, Geoff, if you need a guitarist to do a Promised Land 20th Anniversary tour in 2014… *cough*