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Queensr˙che - Empire CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.81 | 466 ratings

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4 stars Following their highly praised Operation: Mindcrime, all eyes were on Queensryche to deliver another masterful conceptual journey that could build upon what they had done before. Granted, it would be hard for any band to deliver under the pressure from fans and the media after releasing arguably their masterwork to the world, what creative juices are left that weren't forced into their greatest effort to date?

So here we have Empire and straight from the off there are some clear observations made; one: it's not a concept album, and, two: it's not really all that progressive. On the first note, it has been thought to have been conceptual, or at least partly conceptual with the presence of sound effects and voice-over acting during the opening tracks, however Geoff Tate himself corrected these claims in a recent interview with Metal Hammer, so it isn't. And as for the musical aspect, is it prog? Well, slightly.

Let's begin with the opening track, Best I Can. It's by far one of the finest Queensryche songs to date, an upbeat punch-the-air anthem that gets the album off to a flying start and hints on some form of concept with the choir intro and strange voices creating a mysterious atmosphere. However, down to the bone it's really a melodic rock anthem, with the majority of the record following suit. Indeed it appears that Queensryche have gone commercial with Empire, it contains all the ingredients of a mainstream multi-platinum record, but with something else thrown in. It isn't all as predictable as it may sound; for instance, tracks such as Della Brown and Anybody listening have the classic Queensryche element of experimentation, well, albeit slightly akin to the previous epics such as The Warning's Roads to Madness. So it's a relief that they aren't afraid to stretch tracks to over seven minutes with mid song changes and the like, it's this that keeps Empire's head bobbing above the water and from becoming consumed with the trademark mainstream sound that, unfortunately, later albums would fall victim to.

The heart of the record is in their hit single Silent Lucidity in where lies a truly magical ballad that sounds as though it has been taken straight from Pink Floyd's The Final Cut. It's got the brass orchestration and the tinge of bleak atmospherics combined with an element of elevation come the chorus. It almost feels slightly out of place with the rest of the album, especially when compared with the rather dismal Another Rainy Night (Without You) which sounds remarkably like Rick Astley's infamous Never Gonna Give You Up, truly bizarre.

Yet, within Empire is a fine collection of song, including some rather strong ones as well. Jet City Woman seems to have taken quite a liking to by fans, but it's not as good as Best I Can, the title track full-blown hair anthems, Hand on Hear and Resistance. Tracks such as The Thin Line and One and Only are enjoyable, yet lack the same punch and heaviness found elsewhere. So it's a mixed goody bag of an album, you'll find Floyd-esque ballads and hair anthems, an interesting and enjoyable listen.

Top Three Tracks:

1) Silent Lucidity 2) Best I Can 3) Empire

dalekvilla | 4/5 |


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