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Sweet Oblivion Feat. Geoff Tate – Relentless

Sweet Oblivion Feat. Geoff Tate
by Mark Machlay at 04 May 2021, 6:23 AM

QUEENSRYCHE’s Geoff Tate has had a long and storied career in the rock industry but with Frontier Music’s help, Tate is squeezing out just a little more of the melodic progressive rock that he was famous for in the late 80s and early 90s with SWEET OBLIVION’s second album. With QUEENSRYCHE, Tate released four amazing albums culminating with 1990’s “Empire” before the band would seemingly flounder for several years with an identity crisis that has plagued much of their remaining catalog. A legal battle ensued over the rights to the band name, ultimately losing the rights to his former bandmates. Tate then formed “Operation Mindcrime”, released a trio of concept albums but never was able to achieve the notoriety of QUEENSRYCHES early years. Frontier Records stepped in, overseen by President Serafino Perugino, and attempted to provide Tate with the vehicle to return to the classic QUEESRYCHE sound by forming SWEET OBLIVION. The self-titled debut would be written and produced by Simone Mularoni known for his band Italian power/progressive metallers DGM. It was arguably the best thing Tate was involved in since the early 1990s.

The new album “Relentless”, thankfully, does not suffer from the sophomore slump despite the fact that the engine under Tate’s hood – aka the rest of the band – has been completely replaced. For the second go around, Aldo Lonobile – most recently from ARCHON ANGEL but also has several albums with power/progressive band SECRET SPHERE – provides all production, songwriting and guitar duties while bass guitar is filled by Luigi Andreone of ODD DIMENSION, Michele Sanna of thrash metallers COMA joins on drums and Antonio Agate also of ODD DIMENSION and SECRET SPHERE fills in on keyboard. Overall, “Relentless” is a bit of an edgier album and a bit more dramatic in its presentation. Lonobile does not really reinvent the wheel here and thoroughly delivers on creating a very similar atmosphere to the tone and style of those early QUEENSRYCHE albums. You could say it plays it safe, but if you’re simply looking for more of the same, you won’t be disappointed.

Again, “Relentless” is very similar in tone to those darker, edgier QUEENSRYCHE albums that I wore out when I was first discovering progressive metal in the late 90s, but it’s a bit fatiguing and doesn’t have a lot of dynamic between the tracks. One of my favorite tracks is “Another Change” with its satisfying crunchy guitar tone playing a very tasty dissonant, yet catchy riff throughout that lends a little bit to DREAM THEATER and classic AOR with a flashy and over-the-top guitar solo. In my opinion, they should have led with this song instead of the “Once Again a Sin” with a painfully long quiet, repetitive intro and once it gets going, never really grabbed me, even on subsequent listens. Allegedly, Tate, took a more hands-on approach with this album and even asked Lonobile to write a song entirely in Italian for Tate to sing which resulted in the clichéd “Aria”. It’s a nice effort, and Tate’s enunciation is well-executed but it’s just another mid-tempo rock anthem with very little bite on a record littered with them. But then it’s followed by the tender “I’ll Be the One” with an equally emotionally tuned solo which perked up my attention on the penultimate track. I would say it’s worth a listen for those that long for that return to form QUEENSRYCHE sound with production to match that classic tone.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Once Again One Sin
2. Strong Pressure
3. Let It Be
4. Another Change
5. Wake Up Call
6. Remember Me
7. Anybody Out There
8. Aria
9. I’ll be the One
10. Fly Angel Fly
Geoff Tate – Vocals
Aldo Lonobile – Guitars
Luigi Andreone – Bass
Antonio Agate – Keys
Michele Sanna – Drums
Record Label: Frontiers Music


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