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PiercingMetal Spotlights: Queensryche

My interest in Queensryche goes a pretty long way back and I can say to the readers that the first time I ever caught them in concert was when they were opening up for KISS on the bands “Animalize” tour. They were supporting their soon to be released masterpiece “Warning” and believe it or not, I couldn’t have cared less that night. This was based on the KISS mania setting in and my not being open to this obviously rising star in the Metal world. I was not alone in this view and that was just how a KISS show worked. You often were bored at any opening band while you waited for the Kings Of The Nighttime World to come out and dominate the stage. Moving ahead a couple of years in time, the chance to see Queensryche again happened when Iron Maiden was on their legendary “Powerslave” tour and for me this was a match made in heaven. I say it like this because the band was winning me over note after note and had the many thousands of fans in Radio City Music Hall pushing their fists into the air as singer Geoff Tate told us to “Take Hold Of The Flame” with a soaring and commanding register. I’ve been a fan ever since that time and have followed them as a band in both my personal life and as that of a music journalist. They pushed the envelope a number of times in their releases and we have reviewed many of their recordings and video films on the site as well as supported their touring efforts. To see any contest that features Queensryche just click their logo below to launch the query that will present all that is resident on the PiercingMetal.com website.

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“Empire” 20th Anniversary Edition (remastered) by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Empire” 20th Anniversary Edition (remastered)
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 9/14/2010
Genre: Hard Rock/Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

What a great year for important Metal anniversary releases. I mean let’s look at what’s come out so far. We had Judas Priest celebrating thirty years of “British Steel” a few months ago and now its time for Queensryche’s stunning “Empire” to get its due. Believe it or not my friends, the pivotal album in the bands career is now officially twenty years old. When the band issued remastered releases a couple of years ago we offered up some thoughts on this album and I am presenting them to you all again to refresh your memory (I’ve modified this text only slightly to be a little more current). After you catch up, we will examine this edition a little more. Please read on.

After extensive touring in support of “Operation: Mindcrime” the band was able to call more of the shots when it came to delivery of the next album. Geoff Tate was largely the creative force behind Operation: Mindcrime and now the task would fall to guitarist Chris DeGarmo who would have a writing credit in every song except for the title track. “Empire” would also be the bands biggest commercial success due to the fact that many tracks were considered “radio friendly” to what was on the airwaves at the time. The 1990 release would find an incredibly heavy rotation on the MTV network with their videos and the then strong rock radio empire as well. Songs like “Empire”, “Best I Can”, “Jet City Woman” and the crossover hit “Silent Lucidity” were staples and could be heard every day and more than once to boot. The latter track was often referred to as Queensryche does Pink Floyd, for it held such a strong common feel to the psychedelic Rock giants own “Comfortably Numb”. The band surely deserved the larger critical acclaim which would arrive seven years after their debut EP but the strong commercial angle of the recording would lose some of their heavier music fans. In the end there were more who would stick with the band as their audience itself was growing older and finding expanded musical interests themselves. Queensryche seemed to be a band that matured along with their audience and that is never a bad thing. The remasters of the Queensryche back catalog are impressive not only in sound but in the inclusions they offer. Expanded artwork and liner notes are par for the course in this release as with the others as well as unheard or rare tracks. This album features an amazing cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” as well as a track only heard in a movie before (“Last Time In Paris”). Okay so “Scarborough Fair” is not a track actually penned by the Folk Rock duo, but one cannot argue how they are probably the ones that made it most popular. With “Empire” it was safe to say that this would be the album for you if you had moved on from the blistering displays of Metal and wanted a little more Progressive nature added to your musical diet. Lyrically it has some bright spots and while one or two moments are uninspired, there is some great stuff on the album. Favorites besides the tracks referenced above would be “Anybody Listening?” which sounds like it was something that should have been on “Operation: Mindcrime” but for some reason was left off. “Empire” is in a lot of ways the first album that people learned about Queensryche on, and that is another reason it is such a hallowed piece of music.
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“Sign Of The Times – The Best Of Queensryche” (Deluxe Edition) by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Sign Of The Times – The Best Of Queensryche” (Deluxe Edition)
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 8/28/2007
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 4/5

“Sign Of The Times: The Very Best Of Queensryche” is a compilation CD that is quite similar to the original Greatest Hits piece that the band released in 2000 with a couple of exceptions. The original version covered all of the albums except for “Q2K” and offered sixteen of the bands most influential tracks. The new version comes with a snappy new title and changes this around a little bit in terms of a couple of the songs that are included as it now features music from all of the bands studio albums and some numbers from soundtracks that they appeared on. From the seventeen total songs on the first CD of the collector’s edition the listener is able to follow the bands progression into history as they released intelligent Metal that touched upon the Progressive end at times. Always a band that pushed the envelope and experimented with style and sound while other bands chose to remain content with delivering the same style again and again. As a result of this modus operandi the earliest fans of Queensryche found a band that was growing along with them and delivering musical colors that changed as often as the seasons. Some loved this and some didn’t because as is typical with fans of any group there are sides taken with each release and some defend it to the death. I remember originally hating “Rage For Order” myself and now find it a work of genius and later with the “Q2K” album which I refused to support on its release because of no Chris DeGarmo became an enjoyable listen when I heard the re-issue several years later. As expected CD1 for “Sign Of The Times” includes the standards from the self-titled EP, “Warning” and “Operation Mindcrime”, etc – but its really only a taste of the goods in my opinion. Legacy fans would enjoy this as something to put on for a great career overview while a new fan should make this required listening as Queensryche’s accomplishments for the heavy music genre have been pretty extraordinary.

The Collector’s Edition includes a second CD that makes the release all the more worthy of investigation based on what the listener will find on it. The disc begins with three demos by the band Myth – a group that Geoff Tate fronted before joining Queensryche. The titles of the songs might ring incredibly familiar but you would be surprised that the tunes themselves lean more towards the early years of European Power Metal. Tate describes them in the liner notes as “inclusions to show the metamorphosis of a song idea” and “discerning listeners will notice certain similarities to the Queensryche songs that came later”. They are really a treat to listen to and fans should know that guitarist Kelly Gray was also a part of this band. The other inclusions of note are the demos from “The Warning” as you can enjoy these great songs in their earliest stages to see how they started against that which was finally released as the bands official debut full length. Many of the other items presented here were available on the remastered versions of the bands back catalog, so if you have them already it might seem a bit repetitive. If not, it’s a good sampling of the additional tracks that were featured on these re-issues. The second CD closes with a new track entitled “Justified” and in review of it the song sounds like it could have been included on the latest studio release “Operation: Mindcrime II” even though it was supposed to appear on “Hear In The Now Frontier”. Fans would enjoy that former guitarist Chris DeGarmo had written this one. The CD comes in a beautiful deluxe packaging and includes a detailed history by Paul Gargano along with some interesting artwork and “reflections” by singer Tate. In late 2007 the band is planning on the release of an album of cover tunes which will feature their own take on some classic songs.

CD2: Take Hold Of The Flame (Myth demo), Walk In The Shadow (Myth demo), Before The Storm (Myth demo), Waiting For The Kill (demo), No Sanctuary (demo), Prophecy (demo), I Dream In Infrared (acoustic), Dirty Lil Secret, Last Time In Paris, Scarborough Fair, Dell Brown (MTV Unplugged), Someone Else?, Silent Lucidity (live), Chasing Blue Sky, Justified (new track).

Track Listing:
1. Queen Of The Reich
2. Warning
3. Walk In The Shadows
4. Take Hold Of The Flame
5. The Lady Wore Black
6. I Don’t Believe In Love
7. Eyes Of A Stranger
8. Silent Lucidity
9. Bridge
10. Jet City Woman
11. Another Rainy Night (Without You)
12. Sign Of The Times
13. I Am I
14. Real World
15. Some People Fly
16. Until There Was You
17. All The Promises

Official Website: www.queensryche.com

“Building Empires” by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Building Empires”
Label: EMI/Capitol Records
Release Date: 10/1/2002
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 4/5

Queensryche’s “Building Empires” DVD is exactly the same release that we saw issued in 1992 on VHS and that’s fine since it covers a lot of ground in the bands career and delivers it in crystal clear digital and audio format. It presents the band from their early years up until the release of their blockbuster album “Empire” and while it does leave out a couple of things that their fans know exist, it is a nice way to get a historical recap of their growth as a band. It begins with the video for “Nightrider” and this is a clip that I recall from watching U68 as a teenager. MTV did show Metal videos, but they would not give us bands like Queensryche for some time. I was not sure why the videos for “Take Hold Of The Flame” and “Queen Of The Reich” were not here, but perhaps these will make some future release. The film for “Rage For Order”’s “Gonna Get Close To You” is here and this stylish clip reminds you of just how much diversity the band was willing to experiment with. “RFO” remains a classic today in the bands catalog, even though it was initially met with some level of hesitation. Its content was vastly different to their debut “Warning” but looking back on it now makes many realize this is one of their best albums. “Eyes Of A Stranger”’s alternate video from “Operation: Mindcrime” is here and this is interesting as its more of a montage of clips that were taken from the tour and videos for the same album. No other videos are present from this release.
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“Operation: Mindcrime” (expanded edition) by Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Title: “Operation: Mindcrime” (expanded edition)
Label: EMI Music/Capitol Records
Release Date: 6/27/2006
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 10/10

Queensryche truly had a winner with their third album; the long acclaimed and revered Progressive Metal Rock Opera “Operation: Mindcrime”. The release became an instant favorite among their fan base and proved to the Metal world that the group was not a one-trick pony. The release of the expanded edition by EMI Music/Capitol Records celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the band’s formation and takes the original release and expanding it to a larger level of potential. The original album saw the remaster process a couple of years ago with the rest of the catalog and these are some of the best releases I had ever gotten my hands on so how could an already well-done issue be pushed up another notch. The answer would be simply to just do it and give the people a little bit more to enjoy of this Metal masterpiece. On top of the original album and its bonus tracks a second CD would be included that featured an unreleased performance of the album from the Hammersmith Odeon in London. While the label had issued an individual album called “Operation: Live Crime”, it is a great idea to have this connected to the studio recording. Those who have enjoyed the music on this album can attest that hearing Mindcrime live in its entirety is simply amazing. The storyline of the album was so rich in detail that one begins to wonder why this never saw conversion to either the Big Screen or Broadway stage. It could have worked and become a bit of a cult classic if done to the exact specifications of the plot.
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