Last week saw the debut of Rising West - a "new band" that was formed to make a statement or two about the current state of affairs in Queensryche. It says, pretty loudly, that the band behind vocalist Geoff Tate pretty much hate him and don't want to work with him anymore. It also loudly proclaims that the guys in the band do not believe in the direction that Tate and his wife have taken the band into. Finally, it definitely screams out that they are going to take their legacy with them into something new, and Geoff Tate can do nothing about it. In short, what's truly rising in the west is a mutiny from within the ranks of one of the most respected bands to come out of the 80s scene.
As a fan of Queensryche since their very beginnings, I can only ask...plead really...Geoff, please retire the name Queensryche and move forward with your solo career. Please do not drag it through the mud the way so many bands have done over the past decade.
Having known Geoff Tate as a man of integrity throughout his career, you can't help but hope he'll shelve the name Queensryche now and go off to whatever he wants to do next. For multiple reasons, this seems like the only thing he can do that will actually work in his favor. Think about a couple of points here:
1. There is NO way he can replace the band and continue touring as Queensryche. Sure, I guess legally if he's the legal holder of the name, he COULD...but there's no way the fans are going to accept that. In almost 20 years, fans still have not accepted the departure of Chris DeGarmo from the band. There's just no chance they are going to latch onto a new crew of guys behind Geoff and pay top dollar for that as 'Queensryche'.
2. What they have done for the last decade does not really feel or fit with the legacy they built. With the exception of OPERATION MINDCRIME 2 (which I would argue has been half written or at least detailed in some form since the original, since there were always rumors of this sequel), the albums of the 2000s just haven't fit well at all with their history. Is there anyone out there that will argue that TRIBE, AMERICAN SOLDIER or DEDICATED TO CHAOS are closer to Tate's solo work than they ever were to EMPIRE, OPERATION MINDCRIME or RAGE FOR ORDER? The new material from the last decade has been terrible, and the fans have responded loudly.
3. Geoff Tate can be replaced in Queensryche. The band cannot. It took a single weekend of shows to prove that Geoff Tate-less Queensryche will garner most of the old fans. While we know that Tate can't be bother with the Internet, the reaction has been almost universally that the old, metal style is what people want to see, and will be willing to support.
4. Geoff Tate has completely lost touch with the fan base. I believe firmly that one of the reasons I always championed Queensryche was that they were such a "thinking man's band". Albums like PROMISED LAND and MINDCRIME simply challenged me as a metal fan to look past the sex, drugs and rock n' roll of the 80s and explore politics, world issues and social problems with society. At the same time, they still rocked as hard as anyone while doing it. What we have now are cabaret shows, Tate looking like a creep on stage as he grinds around the state like a perv with a bad eyeliner job. Further, while I think that albums like DEDICATED TO CHAOS showcase that he's still paying attention to some social situations ("Hot Spot Junkie"), the message is completely lost given the fact that the music is so bad.
5. The ego now outweighs the talent. Without question, Geoff Tate was once one of the most elite vocal talents in heavy metal. For the longest time, it was always Dio, Halford, Dickinson and Tate as the "big 4" vocally. Sadly, only Dickinson is still around and featuring that elite talent. Dio obviously died, and Halford has become very hit or miss from night to night. As for Tate, he's pretty much "miss" anymore. In many ways, he's got that thickened vocal syndrome that has always taken away the greatness of Brian Johnson over the last few albums. For Johnson though, he's able to get away with it because his attitude toward the music and the fans always makes the fans more than willing to look the other way a little bit. Not so with Tate. Tate may think he's still a megastar, but the reality now is that the shows are getting smaller and smaller.
So, just what are we saying here. Well, in short, I'm writing this as a plea to Geoff Tate to retire the name Queensryche. In fairness, I would think that the name "Geoff Tate" is almost as recognizable as the name "Queensryche" these days, so it can easily work for booking shows and performing. More than anything, as a fan, please don't get into the scenario where there are competing Queensryches out there. It's embarrassing for Great White. It's pathetic for LA Guns. It was lame for Ratt. It will be extremely sad if this happens to a band that was once considered the most cerebral on the planet.
Go ahead and retire the name, Geoff. Most have already done so with the legacy.