Does anybody* care at all that Geoff Tate was kicked out of Queensrÿche last week? News that one of history's greatest metal bands fired their lead singer for over 30 years should be significant, but most music news sites couldn't be bothered with the story. In truth, Queensrÿche's legacy has already been too defiled for this story to matter. Since Chris DeGarmo left in 1997, they've only been relevant as a comedy of errors, and the latest Tate episode is just another embarrassing flog to a fossilizing horse.
By all accounts, Tate deserved to get canned. But none of his exasperating behavioral or artistic choices cover the fact that this guy had a voice. Exhibit A: "I Am I," from 1994's Promised Land.
Hopefully you have good speakers and headphones. "I Am I" has some of the most encompassing production that you'll hear. The compression and rawness wars hadn't taken off yet, and each one of Tate's strange harmonies and affectations seem to get their own mix. The result is dazzling--I don't know who James Barton is, but he makes a case for investing in a producer and engineer.
'90s-era Queensrÿche gets dismissed for being radio-friendly, only because they were selling more records than before. Truthfully, it's very weird music. "I Am I" dresses a hypnotic sitar riff in bells, sound effects and strings, packing prog-rock senses into a song that doesn't even last four minutes. Scott Rockenfield's drumming sounds like Dale Crover broke into Danny Carey's mansion. All to arrive at the Iyaric conclusion that "I" is, in fact, "I". If that sounds silly to you, remember that this was written when Queensrÿche still was Queensrÿche.
*Besides the married couple with matching Queensrÿche tattoos whom I met outside the Best Buy Theater.