4 September 2013

Queensrÿche - Empire

At one point this band was on top of the world - Queensrÿche were formed in 1982 with by guitarists Michael Wilton & Chris DeGarmo, drummer Scott Rockenfield, bassist Eddie Jackson and vocalist Geoff Tate out of the ashes of various cover bands in Seattle.  When this came out in 1990, they were at the height of their commercial powers.  After success of Rage For Order and Operation: Mindcrime in America they were on the rise (or so it seemed) - Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson was praising the band and saying the albums they were releasing were the type of thing he wanted to release, they were being nominated for Grammy awards, winning MTV awards (when it was a music channel) and after this, it was all downhill from there.  In 2012 the band sacked singer Geoff Tate and now until a court case which will take place in 2014, there will be a two versions of the band going - hence the two links below.  But that sad state of affairs is the future for the band when this album was released, how this album has fair in the last 23 years, has the ages been kind or has it became as embarrassing as the band's soap opera lifestyle.

Musically this is a commercial as progressive metal/rock can get without turning into another beast.  From the opening lines of "Best I Can" there is a passion and desire in the album that is hard to be surpassed by anything that was going on during this time (with the exception of Dream Theatre's Images & Words which came out in 1992) - it was ahead of the curve in many ways.  It had the commercially safe sound on tracks like "Hand On Heart" which also had just enough to keep the faithful happy and to bring in the casual fan as well, and with songs like "Jet City Woman" and the international smash hit single "Silent Lucidity" (the stand out moment of this album and if truth be told the band's career).  The band sound tight and focused all the way through and the 11 tracks on the original release are timeless in their delivery and still sound as if they could have been recorded yesterday.  The sound of the album is copied that much, that it is just a fantastic record.

 Now comes the bit where I feel like I am kicking a puppy that is just happy to see you - as good as this album is it is equally as frustrating as well. Let me explain, this is so well played it is beyond fault in that way.  But compared to the band's own back catalogue at that point, the album is very safe and just too perfect in places.  Don't get me wrong, I love this band and have nothing but praise for their musical output - what I think about their personal problems is neither here or there.  But for a band to that had made their name with being brave, it is not their best work.  But this band at their worst or most pedestrian is still better than most bands at their best.  It is a very good album, it has their best song on, yet it is still slightly annoying that this album could have been that slight more braver like their first three albums, it might not have been as commercial, but it would have been the album of the 90's - but that is just fantasy, and the empire was never built.  Still worth checking out though....

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase one of the various versions of the album from Amazon here

 You can visit the website of the singer's version of the band here

You can visit the website of the other Queensrÿche band (with the remaining members of the band) 

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Video of "Silent Lucidity"

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