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Queen - Queen II CD (album) cover

QUEEN II

Queen

 

Prog Related

4.35 | 572 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Begin the march of the Black Queen.

While it can be debated that Queen ever set out to be a ''progressive'' band in the 70s scene in competition with the Prog giants it can never be denied that they made some pretty damn good progressive material. With Queen II the band created a body of material that is undoubtedly pure, undiluted art rock, even bordering on heavy prog at most times. This would not be the only album that they would create in this fashion, and this would certainly never become Queen's most popular album thanks to a lack of 'hits', but it is very likely the most appealing for the prog heads. With a couple of pseudo-epics, impressive playing throughout and some very memorable tunes this album is one for the ages.

The entire thing has a very grandeur feel to it, as the whole thing comes off as a big medieval tale told by an operatic rock singer and a harmonized guitar. The biggest examples of this are songs like the heavy and fast Ogre Battle with it's culminated shrieks opening the songs and it's backmasking turning into the song's main drum charge and riff. Combine this with the superb Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke with its keyboard led march and you've got yourself a killer pair of heavy tunes. But while those two songs are very likely the heaviest and fastest parts of the album it doesn't mean that the progressive parts stop there.

This album opens with two of Queen's finest prog tracks. The intro, Procession, is a pleasant tune that sets the tone of the album, but it's the next couple which really create interest in the album. Father To Son is a mid-paced piece of wonder with a sentimental riff and wonderful vocal lines, as can be expected from the ever talented Mercury. The guitar solos in this one never get too out of hand as they stay to the feel of the song, White Queen (As It Began) is a beautiful song with May's soft guitar capturing the essence. There's still heavy breaks in this song, which stem from heavy riffs mixed in among the serene feeling that comes from the instrumentation of the rest of the band.

The build-up of the album really is one of the most important parts of its success, as it unfolds like a story, which really helps the overall tone. After the first two songs we get into the mid-paced and almost semi-jovial Some Day One Day which is brought to life by the echoes on May's riffing and soloing. Things build up further in the almost grumbly The Loser In The End, voiced by Roger Taylor in his trademark fashion. After the two heavy-ass rockers mentioned above we get to the short and beautiful Nevermore which is primarily vocals and a piano which acts as an interlude to the climax of the album.

Coming into the end of the album we're treated to what is likely Queen's greatest achievement. No, you Wayne's World rockers, I'm not talking about Bohemian Rhapsody, although that is a pretty splendid track. No, the track I'm talking about here is one of the most criminally overlooked songs in all of rock and progressive rock history. The March Of The Black Queen is easily one of the best and most decisively ''epic'' songs ever written. Everything that Queen is known for in their 70s heyday is represented here; Harmonized vocals and guitars, fantasy lyrics and a drum line that could lead an army to march. The piano is used subtly but effectively, but the rest of the song is just pure heavy. Slower sections tease the audience before throwing them right back into the march. This is the definitive, perfect Queen song, and anyone who fancies themselves a fan of heavy prog will be pleasantly surprised in listening to it.

The album calms down considerably after the majestic force of The Black Queen, but there's still some power in the album. Funny How Love Is is a quick and dirty little interlude with a repeating refrain and The Seven Seas Of Rhye is a well known classic led by a highly melodic piano riff and some very fun lyrics (''I challenged the mighty Dragon and his troubadours.!''), a great conclusion to a great album.

Don't expect any songs that received more than their share of FM airplay when you buy this album. None of the songs are super-catchy-muli-platinum-hits, but what the album lacks in familiarity for buyers it makes up in stellar musicianship and incredible music that even a prog head will have to nod and give kudos to in its complexity. If you've ever doubted what Queen did that could be considered 'progressive' then you haven't heard Queen II. Recommended for fans of hard rock and heavy prog, Queen fans, and just about everyone in general. Very highly recommended.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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