Queensryche
Queensryche

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.

Queensr˙che (EMI/Remastered Version) 1983/2003

1."Queen of the Reich" (4:22)
2."Nightrider" (3:46)
3."Blinded" (3:06)
4."The Lady Wore Black" (6:13)
BONUS TRACK (Original EMI CD Release)
5."Prophecy" (4:01)
BONUS TRACKS (2003 Remastered Version)
5. "Nightrider" [live] (4:32)
6. "Prophecy" [live] (3:59)
7. "Deliverance" [live] (3:40)
8. "Child of Fire" [live] (4:36)
9. "En Force" [live] (5:47)
10. "Blinded" [live] (3:26)
11. "The Lady Wore Black" [live] (7:01)
12. "Warning" [live] (4:56)
13. "Take Hold of the Flame" [live] (5:12)
14. "Queen of the Reich" [live] (5:21)

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."

The Warning Queensr˙che - The Warning (EMI/Remastered Version) 1984

1."Warning" (4:44)
2."En Force" (5:14)
3."Deliverance" (3:17)
4."No Sanctuary" (6:02)
5."NM 156" (4:38)
6."Take Hold of the Flame" (4:54)
7."Before the Storm" (5:13)
8."Child of Fire" (4:31)
9."Roads to Madness" (9:43)
BONUS TRACKS
10. "Prophecy" (4:00)
11. "The Lady Wore Black" [live] (5:23)
12. "Take Hold of the Flame" [live] (5:06)

"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.

Rage for Order Queensr˙che - Rage for Order (EMI/Remastered Version) 1986

1."Walk in the Shadows" (3:34)
2."I Dream in Infra Red" (4:18)
3."The Whisper" (3:36)
4."Gonna Get Close to You" (4:37)
5."The Killing Words" (3:56)
6."Surgical Strike" (3:20)
7."Neue Regel" (4:55)
8."Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)" (4:15)
9."London" (5:05)
10."Screaming in Digital" (3:37)
11."I Will Remember" (4:25)
BONUS TRACKS
12. "Gonna Get Close To You" [12" single version] (5:46)
13. "The Killing Words" [live] (4:10)
14. "I Dream In Infared" [1991 Acoustic Remix] (4:02)
15. "Walk In The Shadows" [live] (3:41)

Queensryche

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".

Operation: Mindcrime Queensr˙che - Operation: Mindcrime (EMI) 1988

1."I Remember Now" (1:17)
2."Anarchy X" [instrumental] (1:27)
3."Revolution Calling" (4:42)
4."Operation: Mindcrime" (4:43)
5."Speak" (3:42)
6."Spreading the Disease" (4:07)
7."The Mission" (5:46)
8."Suite Sister Mary" (10:41)
9."The Needle Lies" (3:08)
10."Electric Requiem" (1:22)
11."Breaking the Silence" (4:34)
12."I Don't Believe in Love" (4:23)
13."Waiting for 22" [instrumental] (1:05)
14."My Empty Room" (1:28)
15."Eyes of a Stranger" (6:39)

This album broke Queensryche into the mainstream market BIG TIME after they had struggled for such a long time. To be honest though, I was a bit disappointed at the time as this is no where near the metal that I had hoped Queensryche would be putting out. In retrospect, this is a really good concept album that is based around a mysterious person named Mr. X, who is an assassin. Looking back now, and after years of listening to this, I must confess that Operation: Mindcrime is one of the finest concept albums ever.

Operation: Livecrime Queensr˙che - Operation: Livecrime (EMI) 1991

1."I Remember Now" (1:19)
2."Anarchy X" [instrumental] (1:27)
3."Revolution Calling" (4:58)
4."Operation: Mindcrime" (4:26)
5."Speak" (3:44)
6."Spreading the Disease" (5:05)
7."The Mission" (5:47)
8."Suite Sister Mary" (11:37)
9."The Needle Lies" (3:19)
10."Electric Requiem" (1:16)
11."Breaking the Silence" (4:21)
12."I Don't Believe in Love" (4:19)
13."Waiting for 22" [instrumental] (1:27)
14."My Empty Room" (1:37)
15."Eyes of a Stranger" (8:25)

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.

Anybody Listening Queensr˙che - Anybody Listening (EMI)

1. "Anybody Listening" (7:40)
2. "Scarborough Fair" (3:48)

A single from 'Empire' with the non-album track "Scarborough Fair," which is a Simon & Garfunkel cover. Cool cover printed with metallic ink, which doesn't translate so well to a scan.

Empire Queensr˙che - Empire (EMI) 1990

1."Best I Can" (5:30)
2."The Thin Line" (5:42)
3."Jet City Woman" (5:20)
4."Della Brown" (7:04)
5."Another Rainy Night (Without You)" (4:44)
6."Empire" (5:07)
7."Resistance" (4:47)
8."Silent Lucidity" (5:45)
9."Hand on Heart" (5:30)
10."One and Only" (5:52)
11."Anybody Listening?" (7:40)
BONUS TRACKS
12. "Last Time In Paris" (
13. "Scarborough Fair" (
14. "Dirty Little Secert" (

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.

Promise Land Queensr˙che - Promise Land (EMI/Remastered Version) 1994

1."9:28 a.m." [instrumental] (1:43)
2."I Am I" (3:56)
3."Damaged" (3:55)
4."Out of Mind" (4:34)
5."Bridge" (3:27)
6."Promised Land" (8:25)
7."Disconnected" (4:48)
8."Lady Jane" (4:23)
9."My Global Mind" (4:20)
10."One More Time" (4:17)
11."Someone Else?" (4:38)
BONUS TRACKS
12. "Real World" (4:24)
13. "Someone Else" (7:13)
14. "Damaged" [live] (4:04)
15. "Real World" [live] (3:43)

My initial thoughts upon getting this CD when it was originally release were, "Ugh, what happened here?" I honestly didn't care for "Promise Lands" 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 - Sign of the Times (Atlantic) 1997

1."Sign of the Times" (3:33)

Pre-release promotional single containing the one and only single for "Hear in the Now Frontier." It's actually a pretty catchy song, and certainly one of the best tracks on an otherwise abysmal album.

Hear in the Now Frontier Queensr˙che - Hear in the Now Frontier (EMI) 1997

1."Sign of the Times" (3:33)
2."Cuckoo's Nest" (3:59)
3."Get a Life" (3:39)
4."The Voice Inside" (3:48)
5."Some People Fly" (5:17)
6."Saved" (4:09)
7."You" (3:54)
8."Hero" (5:25)
9."Miles Away" (4:32)
10."Reach" (3:30)
11."All I Want" (4:06)
12."Hit the Black" (3:36)
13."Anytime/Anywhere" (2:54)
14."spOOL" (4:53)

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!

Q2K Queensr˙che - Q2K (Atlantic) 1999

1."Falling Down" (4:28)
2."Sacred Ground" (4:12)
3."One Life" (4:48)
4."When the Rain Comes..." (5:05)
5."How Could I?" (3:44)
6."Beside You" (5:14)
7."Liquid Sky" (4:53)
8."Breakdown" (4:11)
9."Burning Man" (3:42)
10."Wot Kinda Man" (3:15)
11."The Right Side of My Mind" (5:51)

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 progressive heavy metal! However, this is not what they meant. The overall vibe of "Q2K" isn't that far removed from "Hear in the Now Frontier"; dark, moody, radio rock. Much like "Hear in the Now Frontier" I was disappointed upon first listen. However, after repeated listens I have come to the conclusion that this disc is not that bad. Sure, it's miles away from "Empire" or "Warning" but songs like "Liquid Sky" and "Falling Down" are really pretty good. No, it' not progressive heavy 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 Queensrÿche - Greatest Hits (Virgin/EMI) 2000

1. "Queen of the Reich" (4:22)
2. "The Lady Wore Black" (6:14)
3. "Warning" (4:45)
4. "Take Hold of the Flame" (3:41)
5. "Walk in the Shadows" (4:55)
6. "I Dream in Infrared" (7:15)
7. "I Don't Believe in Love" (3:34)
8. "Eyes of a Stranger" (4:18)
9. "Jet City Woman" (4:24)
10. "Empire" (6:36)
11. "Silent Lucidity" (5:21)
12. "I Am I" (5:23)
13. "Bridge" (5:45)
14. "Sign of the Times" (3:59)
15. "Chasing Blue Sky" (3:31)
16. "Someone Else?" (3:34)

 

 

Greatest hits packages for bands I have followed since their inception are usually pretty uneventful and not something I generally persue. Queensryche is a band I have loved 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 or their subsequent downward spiral 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 "new" 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 wrote an early Queensr˙che demo review for Kerrang, a magazine that formely supported real 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.

Live Evolution Queensr˙che - Live Evolution (Sanctuary) 2001

DISC ONE
EP/Warning Suite:
1. "NM 156" (3:56)
2. "Walk in the Shadows" (3:37)
3. "Roads to Madness" (5:46)
4. "The Lady Wore Black" (5:28)
5. "Take Hold of the Flame" (4:55)
6. "Queen of the Reich" (5:01)
7. "London" (5:15)
8. "Screaming in Digital" (3:48)
Rage/Mindcrime Suite:
9. "I Remember Now" (1:13)
10. "Revolution Calling" (5:13)
11. "Spreading the Disease" (2:29)
12. "Electric Requiem" (1:13)
13. "Spreading the Disease (Part II)" (1:48)
14. "The Mission" (5:45)
15. "Suite Sister Mary" (10:41)
16. "I Don't Believe in Love" (4:23)
17. "My Empty Room" (1:21)
18. "Eyes of a Stranger" (6:17)
DISC TWO
Empire/Promised Land Suite:
19. "I Am I" (4:05)
20. "Damaged" (4:12)
21. "Empire" (4:50)
22. "Silent Lucidity" (5:28)
23. "Another Rainy Night" (4:37)
24. "Jet City Woman" (5:22)
Hear in the Now Frontier/Q2K Suite:
25. "Liquid Sky " (4:59)
26. "Sacred Ground" (4:05)
27. "Falling Down" (5:17)
28. "Hit the Black" (3:39)
29. "Breakdown" (4:03)
30. "The Right Side of My Mind" (6:29)

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.

Tribe Queensryche - Tribe (Sanctuary) 2003

1. "Open" (4:32)
2. "Losing Myself" (4:12)
3. "Desert Dance" (3:57)
4. "Falling Behind" (4:28)
5. "Great Divide" (4:01)
6. "Rhythm of Hope" (3:31)
7. "Tribe" (4:39)
8. "Blood" (4:13)
9. "Under My Skin" (4:12)
10. "Doing Fine" (3:52)

Queensryche are mostly known as a melodic, progressive heavy 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 slightly progressive, melodic 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.

Using the term "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. Much of the modern feel is in the production. 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.

The Art of Live Queensryche - The Art of Live (Sanctuary) 2004

1. "Tribe" (6:09)
2. "Sign of the Times" (3:39)
3. "Open" (4:40)
4. "Losing Myself" (4:08)
5. "Desert Dance" (4:14)
6. "The Great Divide" (4:39)
7. "Rhythm of Hope" (3:37)
8. "My Global Mind" (4:18)
9. "Roads to Madness" (5:09)
10. "Della Brown" (6:21)
11. "Anybody Listening?" (6:48)
12. "Breaking the Silence" (4:37)
13. "The Needle Lies" (3:14)
14. "Best I Can" (5:30)

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.

Mindcrime 2 Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime II (Rhino) 2006

1. "Freiheit Ouvertüre" (1:35)
2. "Convict" (:08)
3. "I'm American" (2:53)
4. "One Foot in Hell" (4:12)
5. "Hostage" (4:29)
6. "The Hands" (4:36)
7. "Speed of Light" (3:12)]
8. "Signs Say Go" (3:16)
9. "Re-Arrange You" (3:11)
10. "The Chase" (3:09)
11. "A Murderer?" (4:33)
12. "Circles" (2:58)
13. "If I Could Change It All" (4:27)
14. "An Intentional Confrontation" (2:32)
15. "A Junkie's Blues" (3:41)
16. "Fear City Slide" (4:58)
17. "All the Promises" (5:10)

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 mostly mundane 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? O:M2 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 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 as well. The first single, "I'm American" is easily one the more 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 vocalist 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.

Take Cover Queensryche - Take Cover (Rhino) 2007

1. "Welcome To The Machine" (4:54)
2. "Heaven On Their Minds" (4:54)
3. "Almost Cut My Hair" (4:18)
4. "For What It's Worth" (2:33)
5. "For The Love Of Money" (4:58)
6. "Innuendo" (6:11)
7. "Neon Knights" (3:41)
8. "Synchronicity II" (4:55)
9. "Red Rain" (4:39)
10. "Odissea" (3:51)
11. "Bullet The Blue Sky" [live] (10:26)

I am a big fan of these sort of "tribute" albums where a band takes songs from their influences and re-records them giving them a fresh sound or their own sound 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 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

American Soldier Queensryche - American Soldier (Rhino Records) 2009

1.      Sliver (3:09)
2.      Unafraid (4:48)
3.      Hundred Mile Stare (4:31)
4.      At 30,000 Ft. (5:11)
5.      A Dead Man’s Words (6:36)
6.      The Killer  (5:26)
7.      Middle Of Hell (5:28)
8.      If I Were King  (5:17)
9.      Man Down!  (4:58)
10.     Remember Me (5:00)
11.     Home Again  (4:41)
12.     The Voice (5:29)

With Queensryche's tenth studio album the band (or more likely vocalist Geoff Tate) decided to record another conceptual album, this time the band takes on the lives and events of the people who make up the US Armed Forces. Tate interviewed several veterans from several different wars to get their stories so that he could in turn transform them into songs. This is an interesting concept, to say the least. As such, I would expect a very emotional and very intense disc. However, musically, I have grown to not expect anything exceptional. The band have lost that killer instinct and intensity in songwriting years ago. That's not to say they are "bad" as many heavy metal fans would have people believe. Rather, they have just moved away from anything resembling heavy metal and have instead gone the way of melodic rock and modern rock.

The opening moments of "American Soldier" do little to contradict what the naysayers have been saying for years. Both tracks, "Sliver" and "Unafraid", are quite honestly, weak. "Sliver" in particular is the kind of generic rock the band has been churning out for some time. The thing that makes this song worse, however, is the inclusion of a second set of vocals meant to sound like a drill instructor but instead comes off as having a hip-hop influence. Certainly not an influence most QR fans are going to welcome. "Unafraid" simply replaces verses with interview sound-bytes, apparently sampled from Tate’s interviews with the soldiers.

Thankfully those two tracks are actually two of the worst on the albums and things begin to improve with "Hundred Mile Stare". "At 30,000 Ft." in particular begins to bring back memories of the once great Queensryche. The song is melodic, dark, moody and somewhat heavy. "Remember Me" is another of those dark, haunting, moody tracks that are indicative of what modern Queensryche could be. "Man Down" even features Geoff Tate pulling out a few of those fantastic, high notes that he rarely uses these days. This is one of the harder rocking songs on the album and should have been the opening track in my opinion. "Home Again" is another melodic number that is also quite moody. The song is a series of sad letters written home by a soldier separated from his family. There are also some vocals sung by a child longing to be with his father, which lends to the emotional nature of the song.

As with "Operation: Mindcrime II", I find "American Soldier" album to be good, and certainly not as bad as many people make it out to be. However, it is not great and large portions of the album just run together and . Queensryche fanatics will no doubt find something to enjoy, and will most likely rejoice in the few tracks that bring back memories of yesteryears. But like most Queensryche albums since the band's heyday I find myself purposely looking for things to enjoy about it, rather than just being blown away like I was the first time I heard "Queen of the Ryche.  If "American Soldier" had been a new album by a new band, I really wonder if people, myself included, would even give it the time of day.

Dedicated to Chaos Queensryche - Dedicated to Chaos (Roadrunner) 2011

1. Get Started (3:32)
2. Hot Spot Junkie (3:57)
3. Got It Bad (3:45)
4. Around The World (4:00)
5. Higher (3:45)
6. Retail Therapy (5:08)
7. At The Edge (4:53)
8. Broken (6:03)
9. Hard Times (3:48)
10. Drive (4:13)
11. I Believe (4:18)
12. Luvnu (6:35)

"Dedicated to Chaos" comes on the heels of the band's 30th anniversary and is the their 12th studio album. "Dedicated to Chaos" is neither a return to the band's heavy metal days, nor is not an extension of "American Soldier". It is in fact yet another new chapter in the book of Ryche. Unfortunately, it’s a chapter that sees the band jumping head-long into dull alternative rock. There’s Beatles-esque melodies, melodic modern-rock chord progressions, sitar arrangements, funk-based grooves, saxophones, horns and elements of modern rock. Some songs sound like they could have been released on Geoff Tate's solo album, which is not surprising seeing as how Geoff has being the driving force of these new Queensryche albums. His disdain for heavy metal has been well publicized, much to the dismay of fans that pine for the band's early heavy metal and progressive rock days, which this album has none of.

A quick review of the internet finds most reviews to be negative or luke-warm at best. Some of the more positive reviews coming from diehard fans saying things like the album is "not that bad". Not exactly a ringing endorsement. As might be expected Geoff Tate's voice is the most distinctive characteristic of the album, and otherwise this album would be unrecognizable as a Queensryche album. New guitarist Parker Lundgren teams up with founding guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson. It's unfortunate that the band has somehow become the backing band for Geoff Tates will and desires. The problem becomes that the band expects fans to accept them for whatever they want to release, regardless of whether it falls into the sound the band became known for.  May be a song like "Hot Spot Junkie" has hints of that band that use to rip our faces off. However, other songs like "Got It Bad" are just horrible pop rock, even with the additions of sitars and the funk guitars. "Higher" is funk-rock complete with horns. If it weren't for the logo on the cover and knowing I have the right CD in the player, I'd question if this were even Queensryche. The back half of the album seems to fare slightly better with "Around the World", "I Take You" and "The Lie" all being melodic rock songs. "At the Edge" is a darker song that reminds me of "Tribe", or perhaps "Promise Land". However, the song is steam rolled over by a sax solo that should have been a guitar solo. "Dedicated to Chaos" is packed full of modern, radio-ready hard rock and light alternative rock that would sound at home on a U2 album.

Many diehards will accept and find something to enjoy with anything this band puts out. As for me, I honestly try to give the newer QR albums a few spins to see if they will grown on me or not. I've been a Queensryche fan since buying their EP as a new release in high school. In fact I have found some things to enjoy about many of the band's more recent albums. However, whenever I get in the mood for Queensryche I rarely, if ever, revisit anything the band has created since "Promise Land". "Dedicated to Chaos" seems to fall in that same category. I really wish that Geoff Tate would have gone solo with this stuff rather than forcing Queensryche into styles that just don't seem to fit the band.

In the end, I tend to agree with the reviews, "it's not that bad". However, it's not that good either. I wonder if this were a new release from a new band if anyone would care at all?

Halfway to Madness Queensryche - Halfway to Madness (Carfax Abbey Records) 2012
Recorded live at Halfway Jam, Royalton, MN, USA, July 28, 2012

1.   Queen of the Ryche (4:18)
2.   Speak (4:23)
3.   Neue Regel (4:48)
4.   Walk In the Shadows (3:39)
5.   En Force (5:19)
6.   I Don't Believe in Love (4:42)
7.   Child of Fire (5:56)
8.   The Whisper (3:54)
9.   Warning (4:52)
10. Spreading the Disease (4:28)
11. The Needle Lies (3:29)
12. Prophecy (4:06)
13. Take Hold of the Flame (4:56)
14. My Empty Room (1:48)
15. Eyes of a Stranger (6:44)
16. Jet City Woman (5:32)
17. Empire (5:35)

In a million years I never thought that Queensryche would part ways with their signature vocalist Geoff Tate. Of course, Tate really took over QR in the last couple decades and nothing the band has released under his reign were really all that stellar. (Some would say it was a "tyrannical reign" from stories I have read.) However, in 2012 the band parted ways and were steeped in messy court battles. In the meantime, the Wilton/Jackson/Rockenfield formed a 'new' band with vocalist Todd La Torre (Crimson Glory) and guitarist Parker Lundgren called Rising West. The band played songs from the first five Queensryche albums only. On June 20, 2012, the three remaining Queensryche members announced that Queensrÿche had parted ways with Tate and would be permenantly replacing him him with Todd La Torre. With the Queensryche name still being battled for in court, this version of Queensryche continued to play shows.  The Halfwayt Jam wast he band's debut performing under the QR name. As part of the performance here Todd points back to the QR banner behind the band and thanks the crowd for welcoming him into the fold.

The set-list reaches back to the band's 80's and early 90's catalog when they were at the top of their game. Many of these classics haven't seen their way to a QR set-list in over a decade. Who ever thought the band would resurrect "Prophecy"? It's a great song that never really was given it's due thanks to only being released as a bonus track. Of course the big question will be, what about Todd La Torre? Does he hit every note perfectly? Absolutely not. At times he cracks and he struggles to hit some of the high notes. Who wouldn't? Even Tate struggled with some of these songs on stage. Does he sound like Tate? At times he does sound a lot like Tate. In fact, having seen QR many times in recent years, I'd say that Todd even sounds better on some of these classic songs than Geoff has. He nails songs like "Walk in the Shadows", "Take Hold of the Flame" and "Prophecy".

The sound quality isn't perfect. After all, this is a bootleg. However, it isn't bad either. It's quite listenable. This is a recording for die-hard fans of the early years of Queensryche, when they knew what heavy metal was and enjoyed playing it

Frequency Unknown Queensrÿche featuring Geoff Tate - Frequency Unknown (Deadline) 2013

1. Cold (3:37)
2. Dare (3:35)
3. Give It To You (4:35)
4. Slave (3:53)
5. In The Hands Of God (3:48)
6. Running Backwards (3:24)
7. Life Without You (4:38)
8. Everything (4:22)
9. Fallen (4:12)
10. The Weight Of The World (6:14)
BONUS TRACKS
11. I Don't Believe In Love (4:27)
12. Empire (5:24)
13. Jet City Woman (5:22)
14. Silent Lucidity (5:45

Geoff Tate's version of Queensrÿche was created in 2012, after Tate was ceremoniously booted from Queensrÿche. With Geoff being the only original member and a revolving door of musicians, it's more of a solo project than a band effort. Regardless Queensrÿche seems to have been a vehicle for Tate's taste over the past decade anyhow with little help from the other members. Whether that be due to a lack of effort by the other members or because of a dictatorship by Tate depends on whose side of the story you wish to believe. It makes for good discussions in social media networks, but has no bearing on the music itself. As for Tate's Queensryche, on September 1, 2012 Geoff announced via Facebook his new version of Queensrÿche which included several metal veterans including Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne/Quiet Riot), Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Glen Drover (King Diamond/Megadeth/Eidolon), and two of his former bandmates Kelly Gray and Randy Gane. Soon after Drover left the band claiming he didn't care for the musical direction the band was pursuing. He was replaced by gutiarist Robert Sarzo (Hurricane) and Blotzer was replaced by Simon Wright (Dio/AC/DC). The first release by this version of Queensrÿche, released April 23, is called "Frequency Unknown".  The album also features of host of guest artists including K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Chis Poland (Megadeth), Lita Ford, Ty Tabor (King's X), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), among others. Despite the virtual who's who of hard rock and heavy metal, that does not guarantee a good album. Due to the very public fighting as well as Geoff coming off as pompous and pious, many fans have sided with the other version of Queensrÿche, many referring to it as "the real Queensrÿche". As such many have judged this album as crap before even hearing it.

However, a pompous singer, a nasty feud between band members and truckloads of drama doesn't mean the album is crap either. What matters is the music, or so one would think. Geoff Tate has embraced the drama and anger to the point where it has become the music itself. The album's initials ("F.U") are a a not-so-subtle clue to the content of the album and the lyrics make no effort to veil Tate's bitterness towards the situation. The album was cranked out in only six weeks obviously in an attempt to have something out before the opposition. There is little surprise in "Frequency Unknown"s musical direction. 2011's "Dedicated to Chaos" was the obvious result of Tate's desire to take the band down a more commercial and modern radio rock-oriented direction. "Frequency Unknown" continues in that same direction. Opening track "Cold" succeeds in being a very good song in that style. The song has an instant musical hook and is driven by a buzzy modern rock riff and some melodic piano offsetting the guitars in the chorus. The song also features a tasty guitar solo from Kelly Gray. "In the Hands of God" is another standout track. The song is dark, eerie track and reminds me of the underrated "Promised Land" album. "The Weight of the World" ends the album on a surprisingly progressive and positive element, slowing down the pace and letting the drama and atmosphere build up as the album ends. The song features some fantastic guitar work from Chris Poland. Unfortunately most everything in between those songs come off as bland, unmemorable and unfinished despite some nice guitar solos by guest musicians like Lita Ford and K.K. Downing. A few songs on this album are old Jason Slater demos from other projects, demos he admitted to being unfinished or not good enough to use on those projects, yet they appear on "Frequency Unknown" pretty much unchanged outside of the new lyrics. 

The album ends with four bonus tracks of re-recorded Rÿche hits. These songs are completely unnecessary as the band did little to nothing new with them. They are simply inferior versions of the originals. 

In a moment of brilliant madness Tate had a contest where fans were asked to say why they hated this album so much on video. Comments like, "the worst album ever made" seem pretty common. Though the video contest may have stirred up more controversy, it probably also helped sell more CDs, or at least pushed more people to illegally download the songs. Any publicity is good publicity. Regardless of popular opinion, "Frequency Unknown" has it's moments, even if they are sparse. I think the album would fare far better in public opinion had Geoff just released it as a solo record, rather than trying to rush something out under the Queensrÿche name. 

2013 Queensrÿche (Century Media) 2013

1. X2 (1:09)
2. Where Dreams Go to Die (4:25)
3. Spore (3:25)
4. In This Light (3:23)
5. Redemption (4:16)
6. Vindication (3:26)
7. Midnight Lullaby (0:55)
8. A World Without (4:11)
9. Don't Look Back (3:13)
10. Fallout (2:46)
11. Open Road (3:54)
BONUS TRACKS
1. Queen Of The Reich [live] (4:35)
2. En Force [live] (4:21)
3. Prophecy [live] (4:10)

In 2013 there are two bands touring and releasing albums under the Queensrÿche name. Most fans know of the very public feuding between singer Geoff Tate and the other three original members of the band, Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson. Basically, Tate was fired from the band, his wife fired from managing the band and his step daughter fired from handling the band's merchandising and fan club. The band felt that the Tate's weren't properly representing the band as a whole. Lots of drama followed the firings and Tate sued the band to stop them from using the Queensryche name. The judge allowed the two bands to exist under the same name until their next court date on  November 18, 2013, stating that, "I'm sure the market can get these things sorted out." With this feud being so public fans have been forced to takes sides, which is unfortunate. Tate's new version of the band includes ex-Queensrÿche guitarist and producer Kelly Gray as well as some seasoned veteran musicians such as bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne) and brother Robert Sarzo (Hurricane). The band released their album "Frequency Unknown" on April 23rd through Deadline Music. Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson hooked up with Todd La Torre, who had recently been singing for Crimson Glory. Their self-titled album was released on June 24th on Century Media Records. The album was co- produced by Queensrÿche and James Barton, who has previously mixed and engineered "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Empire", and also co-produced "Promised Land".

Along with the disagreements over management the three original band members felt the band needed to return to their classic sound, which most fans feel was the band's first five to six albums before the more alternative/grunge rock of "Hear in the Now Frontier". Indeed the band's albums sales have continue to fall ever since that record was released. "Mindcrime II" was enjoyable, "American Soldier" had it's moments and even "Dedicated to Chaos" was not really the pile of crap that people made it out to be. However those albums sounded only vaguely like Queensrÿche and could have been recorded and released by any number of modern rock bands. With the release of the "Queensrÿche", the band have returned to their signature sound and "Queensrÿche" sounds like Queensrÿche. Back from the dead are the guitar solos, the soaring vocals, the twin guitar attack, the progressive and melodic nature of the songwriting. Of course the biggest question is, how does Todd LaTorre compare to Geoff Tate, whose pipes really were the signature for the band. LaTorre doesn't miss a beat. His voice is nearly flawless on this album, sounding a lot like Tate, but with just enough difference to know that it's not Geoff. He hits the highs that have been missing from more recent Queensrÿche albums, but was such a vital part of the band's sound early on. His tone pitch are rock solid, and he adds the right balance of gloss and grit. It's also quite notable that I haven't noticed drumming like this from Scott Rockenfield since those old 80's albums. Whether it be the production or just the fact that he had a bigger part in writing these songs, his drum work is more than just in-the-pocket, but has flair and fury. 

Where this album succeeds is that it is a cohesive album that flows well from beginning to end. It sounds like a band effort, and indeed that is the point. It features not only contributions by the the old timers Wilton, Rockenfield, and Jackson, but Lundgren has made major contributions to opening track "Where Dreams Go To Die". Even La Torre has contributed to the majority of songs on the album. Musically the album seems to fit neatly alongside "Empire" and "Promise Land". For the most part the album is melodic and memorable. There are some heavier songs such as "Redemption", "Fallout" and "Vindication" though none of these songs are really the balls-to-the wall heavy metal of the EP. That's not to say these songs aren't enjoyable, it's just that if someone was expecting "Queen of the Ryche" part two they would be disappointed. While the album does sound like Queensrÿche, it does not sound like old-songs repackaged but rather, Queensrÿche revitalized. 

To be honest it took a few spins to really get into this one, but once it did I really enjoyed it. Only time will tell if it holds nostalgic like their classic catalog. For now I'm just enjoying a Queensrÿche album that sounds like Queensrÿche. If the judge is correct and the market sorts things out, then so far the Wilton/Jackson/Rockenfield version of the band is winning the battle. The album was initially more critically and commercially successful than" Frequency Unknown", the album released by Geoff Tate's version of Queensrÿche. The album sold almost three times as many copies in the first week as Tate's band. Though record sales doesn't equal good music, it is true that the fans are the one's buying (or not buying) the records.

The deluxe edition of "Queensrÿche" came in a box with the digi-pack version of the CD which includes three bonus live tracks. As well the box was packed with goodies including a Queensrÿche guitar pick, three pins, an embroidered patch, and a sticker of the album cover. 

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