Queensryche have always been one of my favourite metal bands. I still play albums like Operation: Mindcrime (1988), Empire (1990), Promised Land (1994) and Hear In The Now Frontier (1997) on a regular base. Geoff Tate's voice still sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to these albums. Now there seems to be some trouble in Queensryche's paradise as Geoff Tate has left the band, leaving the fans in tatters. Fortunately he recorded his second solo album Kings & Thieves, but don't expect a power metal album in the vein of the old Queensryche material.
The eleven songs on Kings & Thieves are more related to albums like Promised Land, which is still a stunning, but somehow controversial album, or Hear In The Now Frontier, which in my opinion is a very underestimated CD. Main aspects of the songs are melody, groove, rock, feelings and of course, the magical throat of Tate, that's actually the real star on this album. Guitar player Kelly Gray joined forces with Tate on this album and some of his solos are really not of this world, like for instance in She Slipped Away or In The Dirt. Kings & Thieves is a good rock album, but I think if any other vocalist would have sung instead of Geoff, this would have been a mediocre album. So call me prejudiced or biased, I don't care, but Tate's wonderful singing really saves this album and takes the songs to a higher musical level.
Highlights are Say U Luv It in the vein of Queensryche, a rather complex song that features a catchy chorus. The longest song Tomorrow is a power ballad with crystal clear vocals and last but not least Dark Money, which is very interesting lyrically speaking. The other songs are all okay, but not really spectacular. The production of Kelly Gray is excellent. I would like to recommend this album to fans of intelligent, melodic hard rock. However, I still hope that Geoff will return to Queensryche in the near future; until that time I'll enjoy Kings & Thieves.
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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