Band Review: Queensryche

I recall hearing Queensryche’s “I Don’t Believe in Love” once or twice on the radio back in the late 1980s, but the band didn’t really mean much to me until 1990. The fall of 1990 was my sophomore year of high school, and the Empire album was released. I remember seeing the video for “Empire” on MTV, and it began piquing my interest. The follow-up single, “Best I Can” only furthered my interest. The song that sealed the deal with me, though, was “Silent Lucidity,” which was the big pop hit on the album. At that point, I considered myself a fan of Queensryche. Other songs on the Empire album that I like are “Jet City Woman,” “Another Rainy Night (Without You),” “Hand on Heart,” and “Anybody Listening?”

In February 1992, Queensryche came to my area for their “Building Empires” tour, and I had the chance to attend the concert; at the concert, the band performed the Operation: Mindcrime album in its entirety. I was so impressed with what I heard at the concert, that I went and bought the album. Operation: Mindcrime is an incredible “concept album,” and the songs on the CD tell the story of a kid who gets involved with an anarchist group. When introducing someone to Queensryche, this is one of those albums that should be shared.

For Christmas in 1992, I got a copy of Queensryche’s 1986 album, Rage for Order, on CD. While this one quite different sonically from Empire and Operation: Mindcrime, there’s still some good songs on it. My favorites from Rage for Order are “Walk in the Shadows,” “I Dream in Infra Red,” and “Gonna Get Close to You.”

In 1994, I purchased Promised Land, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Empire. While the songs on Operation: Mindcrime and Empire took more of a look at the outside world, the music on Promised Land focused more on the individual. My favorites from this album include “Bridge,” “Lady Jane,” “One More Time,” and “Someone Else?” While there were some good songs on this album, it just didn’t quite measure up to Empire or Operation: Mindcrime. The next thing I heard from the band was their self-titled EP, which was originally released in 1983. My favorite songs on the EP are “Queen of the Reich” and “The Lady Wore Black.”

When my husband and I first started dating in 1995, he introduced me to Queensryche’s 1984 album, The Warning. In some respects, it’s kind of a “concept album,” but it’s just not as developed as Operation: Mindcrime. There are some good songs on this album, however. In 1997, my husband and I heard “Sign of the Times” on the radio, and thought it was a good song. However, we never heard anything else from Hear in the Now Frontier at the time the album was out, so we didn’t purchase it at the time. We did eventually buy it a few years later. It’s not a bad album, but it just doesn’t quite rank up with Operation: Mindcrime or Empire.

We didn’t hear anything else from the band again, until reading online that Operation: Mindcrime II was going to be released. Since we liked Operation: Mindcrime so much, we decided to purchase this album to see how the story was continued. However, after listening to it, we were a bit disappointed. It’s obvious how much influence Chris DeGarmo had on the original Operation: Mindcrime; DeGarmo had left the band before Operation: Mindcrime II was ever recorded. There’s some decent songs on this sequel album, but it’s just not up to standard; there was just something that the music on this album was lacking.

I have to say that while I enjoy Queensryche’s material, especially their music from the 1980s and 1990s, I have to admit that the band peaked with Empire. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for any news about the band, or for any new music from the band, but I will be keeping my expectations low. I hope that the next time I hear new music from Queensryche, that I will be pleasantly surprised by what I hear.

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