Before Seattle released it's aweful grunge invasion on America's ears, they gave us such great metal bands as Metal Church, Forced Entry and Queensryche. Led by operatic lead vocalist Geoff Tate, Queensryche took the underground metal scene by storm in the early 80's with a little four song ep. Although I am reluctant to call Queensryche one of my favorite bands any longer, when they first came on the scene I was a huge fan, even painting a combination of their first two covers on the back of my jean vest, which covered my black leather jacket of course.
I was in high school when this came out. (1983, yes I know, I'm old!) Me and my metalhead friends would BLAST "Queen of the Ryche" while proudly displaying our "Ryche Campaign" buttons on our patch & button clad demin vests that covered our black leather jackets. (Really, I have pictures!) This little 4 song ep ruled my world for a while. (The original did not have "The Prophecy") I even painted the ultra-cool purple and gold QUEENSRYCHE logo on the back of my denim jacket along with the cover "The Warning," which came out shortly after this EP. My friend's band (Heathens Rage) was covering "Queen of the Ryche" and "Lady Wore Black" live. We all thought this obscure band, Queensryche, were the greatest thing in the world. Perhaps they did sound a tad like Iron Maiden, but they did it so darn good! Nobody had the pipes that Geoff Tate had. (He even had long hair on this ep) Yup, Queensryche ruled! Finally broke down and replaced my vinyl with the cd when it was released with a bonus track, a song I had already heard live on "The Warning" tour when they opened for KISS. (I also had a bootleg copy of this song.) There is a big difference in the production of this song to the other four as "Prophecy" was recorded during the "Rage for Order" sessions, while the original four were recorded for a demo in 1983. Oh and I forgot to mention that "Lady Wore Black" is one of the finest power ballads ever written.
The EMI 2003 reissue of this disc includes not only 24-bit remastered sound, but the complete audio from the 1984 Live in Tokyo video. The live tracks don't have perfect sound quality, but they aren't bad either and offer up slightly heavier versions of tracks from this EP and "The Warning."
Queensr˙che - The Warning (EMI/Remastered Version) 1984
"The Warning" was the first signs that Queensryche may not have been the mighty metal machine that their EP led us to believe they were. Still none of us knew that at the time as this was an awesome chunk of melodic, almost symphonic, metallic mayhem. I loved this album when it came out; I still love this album today. A brilliant album! "Take Hold of the Flame" was their first hit single. I saw Queensryche on this tour opening for Kiss in Rochester, NY and in Philadelphia, PA. Quite the treat seeing two of my favorite bands share the stage. "The Warning" was produced by James Guthrie, who had formerly worked with Pink Floyd.
2003 saw the re-release of the entire Queensryche catalogue. All the remastered discs include bonus tracks and a new, full color booklet complete with photos, lyrics and a sizeable bio about the "Warning" era of the band. The tracks included here are "Prophecy" as well as two excellent live tracks. According to the liner notes, "Prophecy" was written during the "Warning" sessions but not recorded until "Rage for Order". However, I remember hearing "Prophecy" before "The Warning" came out. I recall having a live bootleg of the band performing the EP as well as "The Prophecy" before this album came out. Nonetheless, I actually think the song fits better on this disc as the production values were far better on "The Warning" than on the EP. With some studio magic and decent mastering "Prophecy" actually sounds like it originally was a part of "Warning." The two live tracks included are both from b-sides."The Lady Wore Black" in particular is nice as it is an acoustic-like jam with Geoff Tate singing his heart out. This tracks was recorded in London, England, 10/20/94. An exact date is not given for the recording of "Take Hold of the Flame", 5/10-12/91 in Madison or LaCrosse, WI.
This album was probably the last great heavy metal album that Queensryche would do. After this one, the MTV syndrome would take over and they would start churning out. . .well, I'll get to that. "Rage for Order" is one of the finest melodic metal albums ever. Geoff Tate's vocals along with great songwriting and a whole lot of hooks kept this one on the top of my favorites list for a long time. A few of the songs have a almost industrial-electronic sound, but overall this is a fine example of melodic metal. My vinyl version of this album had a slightly different cover. The black circle on the picture above is a blue color on the vinyl cover.
The 2003 remastered version features a few rarities, although nothing that outstanding. The live material makes for a nice listen, but the remix, dance version of "Gonna Get Close to You" is horrible. However, the insert features extensive liner notes and classic pictures from this era of the band. The overall sound quality is much better than the original CD issue
Crosswind covered "Walk in the Shadows".
Queensr˙che - Operation: Mindcrime (EMI) 1988
Remember Now" (1:17)
Queensr˙che - Operation: Livecrime (EMI) 1991
Remember Now" (1:19)
I bought this little live cd years after it's release because as I said, I was disappointed at the time with the direction Queensryche had taken. Well, I found this cd used for something like $6, so I decided to give it a listen. Not a bad live disc, as all the songs are played with serious energy and enthusiasm, but there is nothing special about this disc as they only play songs from Operation Mindcrime and NOTHING ELSE! I found the companion video, "Video Mindcrime" a few months later in a paw shop for five bucks. Hmm, good deal I think since I've been offered upwards of $50 for the cd alone.
Queensr˙che - Empire (EMI) 1990
I Can" (5:30)
OK, I'm a die-hard and hoped for the best on this one. To be honest once again, despite that fact that Queensryche abandoned their power metal roots, I had now grown to accept them for a melodic hard rock band and found "Empire" to be an excellent cd. "Jet City Woman" and "Silent Lucidity" were two huge hits that were overplayed on the local rock stations, but despite that I still loved this album. Geoff Tate's voice alone is enough reason to hit the repeat button after songs like "Resistance." Of course by this time MTV had picked up on this band and their popularity exploded, which unfortunately ruined this bands creativity for the future and they would begin following trends instead of leading them.
With the exception of the EP, this is probably my favorite Queensrche re-release as it included three excellent studio bonus cuts, as opposed to the live cuts that most of the other CDs have. "Last Time in Paris" is actually an excellent song and easily could have been an album track. It fits perfectly on this CD.
Queensr˙che - Promise Land (EMI/Remastered Version) 1994
a.m." [instrumental] (1:43)
My initial thoughts upon getting this CD when it was originally release were, "Ugh, what happened here?" I honestly didn't care for this disc at first and thought it was far to mellow. Long gone is the power of their previous discs; instead replaced with a darker, more melancholy sound. However, over the years "Promise Land" has seen repeated plays and much of it has become more appealing to me. I especially like the first two tracks. "I Am I" is pretty bizarre, but also pretty darn cool. The title track is an enjoyable, epic number. "The Bridge" was the first single off this CD. I am actually surprised that this song didn't do better on the radio considering the bands popularity at the time and the fact that this is a pretty infectious ballad. There is almost a Pink Floyd-like quality to much of this disc, which in itself isn't a bad thing. I actually enjoyed that vibe in songs like "Disconnected". As a long time fan it is hard to disconnect one release from the preceeding releases. However, in attempting to do just that I found that I could enjoy this disc quite a bit more.
Upon it's release "Promise Land" was not a fan favorite for sure. However, over they years I have seen a rise in popularity of this disc. Many Queensryche fans are now listing it among their favorites. I must say, in contrast to what the band will release as follow-ups, this CD is far superior and is at least in the ballpark of "Empire" and "Mindcrime." There is no doubt in my mind, however, that it is at this point that Queensryche began their downward descent, as it seems to me that they began trying to "stay current" instead of just being Queensryche.
Queensr˙che - Hear in the Now Frontier (EMI) 1997
of the Times" (3:33)
This is NOT Queensryche. This is a group of aliens who have come down to earth and taken the form of Geoff Tate and his cohorts in an effort to force feed us pure horse crap!
Queensr˙che - Q2K (Atlantic) 1999
I'm not sure what it is with me, maybe these bands that I loved so much growing up have this nastalgic hold on me, because I rushed out to buy this the week it was released. I had read that Queensryche were getting back to their roots, which to me meant POWER METAL! However, this is not what they meant. Well, after repeated listens I have come to the conclusion that this disc is not that bad. OK, it's miles away from "Empire" or "Warning" but songs like "Liquid Sky" and "Falling Down" are really pretty good. Not really power metal, nor is it the melodic rock of the early 90's but at least it shows that there is some life left in the band.
Greatest hits packages for band's I have followed since their inception are usually pretty uneventful and not something I generally persue. Queensryche is a band I have love and hated over the years. Their 'hits' have never interested me as much as their 'albums' as a whole. However, a couple years after this disc was released I found a copy on someone's trade list and decided it might be a nice addition to my collection for the two 'new' songs at the end. Certainly the first forteen tracks are a ride through the band's various stylistic experiments. I still favor the first few years of the band to the more commercially successful years of their subsequent downfall with "Hear in the Now Frontier". Few bands have created a single song that is as impactful as "Queen of the Ryche". This song is one that I list as one of the all time greatest heavy metal songs ever! Other early gems are "Take Hold of the Flame", "Lady Wore Black" and "I Dream in Infrared." However, after this, the metallic genius fades away to follow in the footsteps of band's like Pink Floyd and Rush. I actually do enjoy some of those albums as well, but honestly think that album like Operation: Mindcrime and Empire work better as a whole, than as singles. The two bonus tracks were originally recorded as bonus tracks for Japanese releases. "Chasing Blue Sky" is a beautiful acoustic ballad. "Someone Else?" is a mediocre modern rock song. Apparently it is some sort of incredible feat that this song features "the full band." The CD booklet, while a bit short on photos, includes extensive liner notes and a feature essay by Paul Sutter who apparently wrote an early Queensr˙che demo review for Kerrang, a magazine that use to support metal and use to be worth reading. All 16 songs are 24-bit digitally remastered and sound quite good, but since the band's entire catalog has recently been remastered, this is no longer a big selling point.
Queensr˙che - Live Evolution (Sanctuary) 2001
No doubt one of the biggest bands to come out of Seattle are Queensryche. I have honestly been a fan since the very beginning buying their first EP as a new release. I became such a huge fan by 'The Warning' that I painted the cover on the back of my denim vest in high school. By the time their second full length disc came out I was in total awe, although I was already beginning to become disenchanted by the fact that the band was losing their power metal edge. Despite this I saw the band several times on these first few tours, including twice opening for Kiss. During this same time, Queensryche released a live video of mostly EP and 'Warning' cuts live from Japan. The pure aggression of a young and hungry metal band would have been cool to hear on cd, but alas it was never released. Now that the band has begun a bit of a slide downward in popularity some fifteen years later, they finally release a live album comprising partially of these classic early songs. The band compresses its legacy into a decent set of 29 songs recorded over two nights at the Moore Theater in Seattle. ('Live Evolution' also marks the first release under Queensryche's new contract with Sanctuary Records.) While I am overjoyed to finally have a live disc from these guys, and am also very happy that they chose to release so much early material, I do not hear the same passion that I heard from the band in those early years. Geoff Tate while being one of my favorite singers of all time, sounds a bit tired on songs like "The Lady Wore Black," "London" and especially "Queen of the Ryche." Sure, he still hits those high notes, but with an obvious struggle that was not present in those early years. Of course what could one expect with age and years of touring. Also, guitarist Chris DeGarmo is missed. Despite my minor complaints here, I am totally enjoying this live testament to a band that has put out some of the finest rock and metal platters ever over the past decades. Disc One absolutely floors me. Love it, every pounding second of it. Disc Two, while containing much less favorites, especially on the second half still sounds so much better to me in the live setting than the studio discs ever did. I cannot even remember the last time I listened to 'Hear in the Now Frontier' but certainly these tracks will see play much more often. Must also mention that the packaging on this foldout digi is rather nice. The booklet itself contains plenty of live shots from the performance and a nice write-up of the event. One minor mistake in that the track listing for disc one is incorrect. The first eight tracks are not in the correct order and they left off 'My Empty Room' altogether.
Queensryche - Tribe (Sanctuary) 2003
Queensryche are known as a melodic, progressive metal band. However, there is nothing remotely heavy about this disc and Queensryche have completely abandoned their progressive tendencies for a more simplistic, melancholy sound. In other words, this sounds nothing like the Queensryche all us headbangers grew up with. "Tribe" is at best progressive rock with a loose, earthy, modern vibe. It's definitely NOT metal, but then I knew in advance that it wouldn't be. I read of Michael Wilton's displeasure with the overall sound of "Tribe" and how Geoff Tate stated he's not a big fan of metal music any longer. With those things, I wasn't expecting a progressive metal CD. However, "Tribe" is essentially a mix of everything the band has done since "Promised Land" up to now, with just a bit of Empire's melody thrown in for good measure. I think the return of Chris DeGarmo to the writing process really helped the band tremendously. Chris' songs are some of the best on the disc. Unfortunately, he is still not a permanent member of the band and is only listed as a 'guest musician.' I know including the tag "modern" will turn most fans of metal and progressive music off immediately. I don't mean to say that "Tribe" sounds like Creed or something. I think much of the modern feel is in the production. Actually, the first track "Open" is a perfect example of what I mean. When I first heard this song on the radio a couple of weeks before the album was released, I was unaware it was Queensryche. Upon hearing the track I thought to myself, "this is a good song, to bad all modern bands don't sound this good." Of course it only took a few seconds before Geoff Tate's voice kicked in an I immediately realized who it was. Tate's voice is still strong, although much more laid back than in the past. It seems pretty obvious to me that he is avoiding the high screams of the past. I guess if we can't have the Queensryche of old, at least we can have Queensryche that knows how to write a good melodic rock song. "Tribe" certainly has plenty of that. (thanks for the advance copy Jeff.)
Queensryche - The Art of Live (Sanctuary) 2004
1. "Tribe" (6:09)
What an incedibly dull, uninspiring live album. It's not that I hate all the modern Queensryche material, and it's not that the peformance isn't good either. It's just not a very exciting album. A big part of the problem is the set list which is largely made up from the "Tribe" album. I suppose this should not be surprising, since this was the album they were touring to support. However, even the other material just doesn't push through here. Two tracks ("My Global Mind" and "Roads to Madness") are even given a mundane acoustic treatment. Another problem is that Geoff's Tate's vocals are so out front in the mix, that you really have a hard time focusing on anything else but the vocals. The whole CD just lacks energy and that spark that makes a good live album come alive. I've seen Queensryche several times on other tours, and this is not a good representation of them at all. This is Queensryche bored, going through the motions or all strung out on downers. I'm just not sure. Unfortunately "The Art of Live" is nothing more than a filler in the Queensryche collection and not much more.
Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime II (Rhino) 2006
1. "Freiheit Ouvertüre"
Fans (myself included) have been scoffing at Queensryche ever since they started chasing modern rock trends with "Hear in the Now Frontier", or arguably "Promise Land". The music went from exciting and vibrant to boring and mellow. Then in '05 Queensryche toured with Judas Priest and promised a new CD called "Operation Mindcrime II". I cringed at the idea that the band was going to try to regain their popularity by using the Mindcrime moniker again only to release another mediocre, modern rock album. Having heard one new song at that Priest/Ryche concert, I wasn't very impressed either. What did give me hope was that Queensryche were playing mostly their old, heavy metal material at this show. I saw a glimmer of hope that Queensryche might return to the glory of their past. Well, now that I have Operation Mindcrime II in my hands, what is the verdict? OM2 is by far Queensryche's best album since "Promised Land," but it still pales in comparison to the original Mindcrime, or anything before it. However, that doesn't mean I don't like it. To the contrary, I am enjoying it. The original "Mindcrime" was an a successful mix of progressive rock and heavy metal that somehow was accepted by the mainstream masses. I do think that Queensryche attempted that here as well. There are hints of that great blend of the past but nothing comes off quite as striking or memorable. However, I do think there are some good songs here. The first single, "I'm American" is easily one the best and immediately likeable "new" Queensryche songs since anything off "Empire". Likewise, "One Foot In Hell" travels along similar, slightly less aggressive paths, with an "updated" Queensryche sound. The overall album has a nice balance between hard, uptempo rock numbers and slower, more atmospheric parts. This makes the album a good listen overall. The addition of Pamela Moore reprising her role as Sister Mary on the album also works in the band's favor. Adding Ronnie James Dio as guest vocalist on "The Chase" was also an excellent move for the band. Dio's signature vocals really bring "The Chase" to life for me. (Dio plays the part of Dr. X in the OM saga.) So overall, I find Mindcrime II to be a decent album, even if it isn't quite up to part with their early catalog.
1. "Welcome To The
I am a big fan of these sort of "tribute" albums where a band takes songs from their influences and re-record them give the songs their own spin. Several great ones have been released over the years from bands such as Tesla, Overkill, Great White, Powergod, Rush, etc. Queensryche's "Takes Cover" tackles several different genres and eras of music. Unfortunately they cover very little metal, or even hard rock, proving once again how far away this band have moved from what many fans loved about them. The album kicks off with Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine", one of the better covers on the CD and one that has received quite a bit of airplay in my area. The very next song the band tackles a song from the Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar. From this point on, quite frankly, I found this CD to be a bit flat. Some songs were better than others. The cover of Black Sabbath "Neon Knights" was well done, even though I found Tate's vocals slightly off-kilter. The cover of "Red Rain" from Peter Gabriel was decent. At least in this song the band's character showed through, as opposed to most of the songs that I felt just weren't very exciting. Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" has also been covered by Rush and Ozzy. I think Rush's version is slightly better, although Queensryche's take on the song is far superior to Ozzy's. I was sort of disappointed with the cover of Queen's "Innuendo" as well. I really thought that Queensryche would rock that song, but again, their cover is pretty mundane which pretty much sums up the entire CD. It's not bad, but it's not great either
Queensryche - American Soldier (Rhino Records) 2009
Queensryche - Dedicated to Chaos (Roadrunner) 2011