Relentless, the second outing from experimental outfit Sweet Oblivion – a project conceived by no lesser than Frontiers Music and A&R chief Serafino Perugino – features an all-new band this time around, with the one constant being ex-Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate.
Geoff Tate, objectively once one of the greatest rock singers on earth (if not the greatest, between 1986-88) is a controversial figure in metal, if only because of his apparent distaste for the stricter confinements of the genre and for Queensrÿche’s transformation under his direction in the years preceding his exit (honestly, that material is no way near as bad as keyboard warriors like to claim).
But Tate is a man with a mind of his own who dabbles in many projects at once, which means when he feels like singing Queensrÿche glory years-styled material, he damn well will!. That objective is made possible here by producer Aldo Lonobile, who wrote the majority of the songs on Relentless and tailored them to Tate’s voice, obviously drawing on a reservoir of inspiration from Queensrÿche’s high water mark between 1983 and 1995.
This is evident from the opening strains of “Once Again One”, which immediately suggest a Rage For Order-type atmosphere, even if the song falls a bit short of that mark. However, the urgent but lush “Strong Pressure” immediately gets things up to snuff in what could easily have been a mid-‘80’s AOR single. Things get even better with the plaintive “Let It Be”, which directly recalls some of the songwriting textures on Operation: Mindcrime (think: “The Mission”) – the single greatest album of all time – and the songwriting theme continues a little further on with “Wake Up Call” (think: “Breaking The Silence”). Got your attention yet?
Good, because the pulsating bass and harmony guitars driving “Remember Me” continue drawing inspiration from across the Queensrÿche catalogue, while “Anybody Out There” and “Another Change” suggest how good this band could be on its own merit if they were actually a band. Special mention should go to Lonobile and the rest of the players, who make the whole thing sound like Chris DeGarmo had been resurrected. The crown jewel on the album is found towards the end with “Aria”, an in-your-face classic metal track with a riff and chorus to die for sung by Tate in Italian. Prego.
I could go on, but. Tate sounds better here than he has on recorded material in years, or at least since the first Sweet Oblivion album (he still sounds great live, so quiet there in the back!), and the production is top notch. The only real shortcoming here is that this is pieced together by the players from afar; one can only imagine what this could have been had it been assembled by a full band together in a rehearsal room. Still, Queensrÿche fans should find plenty to like here – or at least those who aren’t still stuck on The Warning.
I was going to rate this an 8, but on repeated listening it’s at least a 9. Welcome back, Mr Tate. 9/10
Sweet Oblivion‘s Relentless was released via Frontiers Music s.r.l. on 9th April 2021