I was quite surprised by this release. As many of you may not know Geoff Tate, the former voice of Queensrÿche, has been punted from his band in a coup. He has been replaced and that version of the band is in the studio with new singer Todd La Torre. There have been tensions in that band for years relating to royalties and music rights which resulted in at least one punch-up before the ouster.
In retaliation to being fired, Tate has set up a rival touring Queensrÿche with an impressive line-up of veteran heavy rock musicians including former members of Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Megadeth and Ratt. It is always sad to see two (or more) versions of the same band plying their trade at the same time. I suspect we shall see quite a bit more court action before it is all resolved. That said Tate still has a good voice and his songwriting doesn’t seem to have suffered much from stress of the whole saga.
Kings and Thieves is actually a decent album that equals some of Queensrÿche’s post-Empire output. Granted there is a track where Tate tries a bit of rap called “The Way I Roll” which is a mistake. “Say U Love It” is the other track that is a painful listen for all but the most patient. Quite why they stuck these two stinkers in the middle of the album is beyond me. Then again, you can always delete these two from your iPod and concentrate on the other (better) tracks.
This is far better than Tate’s first self-titled solo release from a decade ago. This album does reward repeated listens due to its certain quality of songwriting and musicianship. If you can ignore all the drama related to Tate and his old band, then you just might enjoy this release. Ultimately, I was expecting just an ok album at best but Tate has delivered something that is better than that.