Sweet Oblivion Feat. Geoff Tate — Relentless (Frontiers)

Friday, 16th April 2021
Rating: 8/10

No matter which side of the Queensrÿche fence you may reside on — the Geoff Tate-fronted Queensrÿche; or the Todd La Torre-led Quennsrÿche — there’s no doubt that both factions have been highly prolific since their 2012 split. However, it took Tate a few tries to get it right. Tate’s own version of Queensrÿche, 2013’s Frequency Unknown was a train wreck with hired hands for a band, while his Operation: Mindcrime band released three rather bland records (The Key (2015), Resurrection (2016), The New Reality (2017)). However, with Sweet Oblivion, Tate seems to be back on track with what many fans have been begging for since his split from Queensrÿche; (to sound like he did on the band’s early material). Sweet Oblivion’s self-titled debut album garnered quite a buzz within the International rock/metal scene, now Tate returns with the highly anticipated sophomore effort Relentless.

Sweet Oblivion is a prefabricated project created, overseen and directed by President and A&R director of Frontiers Records Serafino Perugino. Quite frankly, Perugino has spearheaded many such collaborations in the past few years that it has become rather overdone with many “special projects” of unlikely musicians joining forces. Some results have been good, while other configurations have been some real head-scratchers.

Right off the bat on opener “Once Again One Sin,” the Queensrÿche-isms are highly noticeable. The track is decorated with ominous keyboard melodies while creating a dark atmosphere, which possesses an intriguing Sci-Fi/spacey vibe accompanied by a dramatic buildup and a memorable chorus. The catchy chorus of “Strong Pressure” is also reminiscent of older Queensrÿche material, but there’s nothing’s more obvious or unmistakable of the Queensrÿche vibe than on standout track “Anybody Out There.” Its glorious guitar harmonies, pulsating basslines, that familiar vocal pattern and those soaring trademark Tate vocal harmonies on the hooky chorus guide the song down the path of splendid brilliance. Album closer “Fly Angel Fly” brings the festivities to a riveting end with vibrating keyboard melodies, driving tom patterns, memorable guitar harmonies and heavy riffing. One of the most surprising songs on the album is the Italian-sung “Aria” (translates to “Air”). The distinctive ’80s metal track features guitarists Walter Cianciusi and Dario Parente, who are also in Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime live band, and is quite possibly one of the most dynamic tracks on the album. Even the more melancholic and ballad-esque tracks (“I’ll Be The One,” “Let It Be”) offer something special and mix well with the more energetic tracks.

Overall, Relentless contains fluid song structures on the 10 diverse tracks with some of them displaying more of a hard rock vibe, some possessing a metallic edge and a few melodic and emotive ballads thrown in for good measure. There’s a constant familiarity and continuity running through the album that keeps the listener thoroughly engaged. Produced by Sweet Oblivion guitarist Aldo Lonobile (Secret Sphere, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, Archon Angel), the album possesses a clean, crisp and highly-polished sonority, allowing every instrument to shine through. The rest of the band consists of bassist Luigi Andreone, keyboardist Antonio Agate and drummer Michele Sanna. Tate’s vocals really shine here, sometimes accompanied by layered backing vocals, which creates a great dynamic. Fans of Queensrÿche may want to give Relentless a spin. Tate isn’t doing anything necessarily heavier or even better than the LaTorre-led Queensrÿche, but this might raise his stock a little bit more and get some of the haters off his back for the time being.

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