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Empire
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2003
Queensryche began to receiver financial success with their album "Operation: Mindcrime", which came out two years before this. To follow it up, they made an album full of commercially acceptable songs, yet they didn't sacrifice and quality or originality in doing so. This is probably my favorite Queensryche album, because it's so easy to listen to. Every song is great, and a few are exceptionally great.
Most people laugh at me when I tell them Queensryche is one of my favorite bands. I get the usual "Don't only people with mullets listen to them?" or "Weren't they some one-hit wonder hair band?". NO. Queensryche is far more skilled (technically and otherwise) and serious musically and lyrically than your average hair band. I think of them as Iron Maiden meets Rush and Pink Floyd, and of course very original as well. They did, however, have the hair.
"Best I Can" is one of my favorite `Ryche songs (they've closed with it both times I've seen them live, it kicks ass), with the inspired lyrics and catchy guitar riffs and vocals. The bridge in 7/8 has a serious groove, and the solo (DeGarmo, I should think) is just so tasty. "Jet City Woman" is a rocking song, with some great guitar harmonies and solos. "Silent Lucidity" is the one everyone's surely heard, the Pink Floyd-ish ballad was a huge hit. It's still a beautiful song. "Anybody Listening?" is my personal favorite, and some of the guitar riffs remind me off Rush. 70's Rush, that is. The solo is so powerful (even more-so live). The lyrics are very good too, as some have called it the best song about the effects of fame since Rush's "Limelight".
The rest of the songs are far from filler. Every song is great, and this is one of the best overall albums I own.
So, you don't need to be a fan of 80's metal or hair-metal at all to enjoy this album, in fact, you'll probably enjoy it more if you're not. If you love catchy, well-written hard rock, look no further. This is one of the best.
By the way, if you like this, check out "Operation: Mindcrime" next. Then check out their earlier stuff, and "Promised Land" is quite excellent too (though in a much different way).
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
To this day, a staggering number of people insist that to entertain is to sell out and surrender growth and innovation. Granted, the frequncy of the stars aligning just right is about as often as a snowball forming in that dark place down below, but it HAS happened, it STILL happens, but never more noticably than in the all-around musical masterpiece "Empire," from the "progressive" "metal" band, Queensryche.
Those quotations are there because Queensryche deserves more than routine catagorization. Their music is at times heavy, and often intelligent, and that's about all the description you should need. If you realize that the past 10 years of mainstream music has been a case of record companies shooting themselves in the foot, this review shall serve to educate you that this album was one of the last appearances of greatness to strike mainstream popularity - it's a good thing Queensryche got this album in before it all went down hill!
The album; dashes of Pink Floyd/Rush/Bon Jovi/Def Leppard/Wagner!
One of my favorite songs ever is the closing track "Anybody Listening?" Epic emotion, powerful vocals, sustained guitar landscapes `a la David Gilmour, operatic theatrics `a la Les Miserables. The song is an adventure, a journey, with changing keys, moods and sections. Everything that a best-song-ever should be is in this unique composition.
Then there's the song that "broke them", despite a very successful prior album ("Operation: MindCrime"). If you only know Queensryche for one song, it's "Silent Lucidity." Granted, it's a bit simpler than much of their work, but just as with "Anybody Listening?", it is a wonderful journey of the mind, "trying to explain to someone the unexplainable," in the words of vocalist Geoff Tate. It is a highly emotional ballad that fits in just fine with the rest of the band's repertoire.
Most of the album is very strong with no filler, but the other big highlights are the songs "Empire," and "Another Rainy Night." These songs deserve some of the highest praise ever, because they adhere to this intelligent-meets-popularity formula better than almost any other song. They deserve even MORE praise, because they are not ballads. They are hard rocking songs, and the former (the title track) was actually quite the popular 'hit.' Can you believe, thinking of a 'hit' as actual good music? It IS possible. These songs are in the normal verse-chorus format, with amazing solos and guitar harmonies, intelligent lyrics, creative chords, and pure heart and soul. They rock like nobody's business, but also allow many people to relate to the music, who normally would be satisfied with bands that only make 10% the amount of effort. It just doesn't get much better than this.
The hardcore fans want their "...MindCrime", but I am going to cave in here - "Empire" is my [just barely]favorite Queensryche album, and the fact that it was very popular doesn't change the fact that it deserved what it got and more. MindCrime is also great - but for once in music history, selling less records doesn't mean it must be better music! "Empire" is the epitome of "exception to the rule." Commercial music hasn't allowed for this much creativity since.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2000
I have had nothing but respect for the Seattle band Queensryche, since I purchased and listened to "Empire". This band writes and plays some of the most intelligent and thought provoking music out there. From the opening song,"Best I Can", this cd weaves a tale that captures the mind. Geoff Tate has one of THE most powerful and unique voices I've heard. From his sorrowful plea , "Don't slam the door on your way out", in "Another Rainy Night(Without You)", to his quiet reassurance in "Silent Lucidity", Tate has the power to make you FEEL what he sings. This band has got to be one of the best today, and I strongly recommend this CD to you if you're a fan or even if you've never listened to anything by them. Queensryche is most awesome.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 1999
Chris DeGarmo has always been the key player in Queensryche (though the entire band is blessed with killer chops and melodic sense) and on Empire he proves himself also the key to the band's breakthrough success.
The song in question is, of course, "Silent Lucidity", the song that should have won the Best Rock Song Grammy in 1991 (instead, it was Sting's uninteresting "The Soul Cages"). "Lucidity" reminds people that bands lumped into the "metal" category can be capable of music of ethereal beauty, and also emotional contact. "Lucidity" also features one of the most simple, elegant solos I can remember, based mostly on just three notes. Reminds me of The Edge's simple, spare, perfectly tailored solos for U2.
The rest of the album is stirring, dense hard rock: "Jet City Woman" with its spitfire guitar work, the moodily sensual "Another Rainy Night (Without You)", the ferocious, sociologically conscious title track, and the long, narrative "Della Brown" are other standouts, culminating in another of Queensryche's resonant ballads, "Anybody Listening?", thematically close to Queen's "The Show Must Go On".
Though not the reckless adrenalin rush that was Operation: Mindcrime, Empire provided shades of subtlety and beauty first hinted at on Rage for Order, here reaching full bloom. Hear what was to be, unfortunately, the last great gasp of a band gradually being (unfairly) lumped in with the old school, one that deserves better.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 15, 2005
Riding high on the creative wave of "Operation: Mindcrime", Queensryche returned to the studio to put together "Empire", what would be their commercial breakthrough.

Unlike most commercial breakthroughs though, this one doesn't have that feel nor the accusations of sellout-- in fact, the band simply kept developing along the lines of their own idiom, but after the massive encompassing storyline on Mindcrime, this was an album of songs, loosely based around themes of society and relationships. Musically, its similar in Mindcrime in that the metal backdrop has become largely a backdrop on which the menagerie of styles and sounds can be overlaid. As a whole, its a bit lighter in tone than Mindcrime was.

The strength of this album lies in its variety, there's great compulsive rock pieces on here ("Best I Can", "Jet City Woman"), some superb Queensryche styled metal (the title track), a few really breathtaking ballads (the album's hit, "Silent Lucidity", a piece deserving all the accolades it gets, homelessness ballad "Della Brown"), and at least one purely ecstatic love song with some great riffing ("One and Only"). As if that wasn't enough, album closer "Anybody Listening?" is in many ways the summation of the band's entire catalog (and history) and is one of the best they've ever done. Admittedly the album has its weak moments ("Resistence" is a step backwards and "Hand on Heart" is just awful), but its really quite an effort.

The remaster, again featuring crisp, clean sound as the rest of the series, is augmented by three bonus tracks-- the goofy "Last Time in Paris" is a lot of fun but admittedly a throwaway and "Dirty Lil Secret" was a b-side for good reason, but their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" is fantastic-- haunting, dark, and powerful.

This may not be the best thing Queensryche has ever done, but its awfully good, and its a great place to start with the band. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2004
Empire(1990). Queensryche's Fifth Studio Release.

Late in 1990, Queensryche would release 'Empire', the album that introduced Progressive Metal genuises Queensryche to the world. Although 'Operation: Mindcrime' is generally considered their best, 'Empire' is the happy medium between Progressive Metal and Hard Rock, accessible to fans of Dream Theater and Tool but also to fans of Rush and Pink Floyd. Soon after 'Empire's release, in 1991, Nirvana and Pearl Jam took the world by storm, but that didn't stop Queensryche; the single "Silent Lucidity" reached the Top Ten, while "Jet City Woman" and "Best I Can" became huge Rock Radio hits, and 'Empire' peaked at #7 on the Billboard Charts. Try to imagine this: In 1991, 'Empire' won the People's Choice Award for the Album of the Year, around Nirvana's 'Nevermind', Pearl Jam's 'Ten, Alice In Chains 'Dirt', and Stone Temple Pilots 'Core'. For one of the few times, talent overcame popularity! So, is 'Empire' as good as fans would lead you to believe, or a weak effort? Read on to find out!

Track Ratings-

Best I Can- Empire's opener, "Best I Can" reminds me of The Who's "Baba O' Reilly", sporting a smooth keyboard opener, but Geoff Tate soon comes out and sings an uplifting anthem. Degarmo's epic chords and the dark backup organ, not to mention the mysterious keyboard melody, make "Best I Can" a catchy, uplifting rocker you can't help but like.

The Thin Line- Like Operation: Mindcrime's "Suite Sister Mary", "The Thin Line" is a melodic prog rocker, changing from slow, rhythm guitar-driven melodies to upbeat, epic interludes. Degarmo and Wilton's electric and rhythm guitar work is beautiful, and Tate's passionate vocals give "The Thin Line" a passionate feel.

Jet City Woman- Empire's most recognizable track, "Jet City Woman" is a powerful tune about love and relationships, and still gets a fair amount of airplay today. Tate goes from low and saddened to upbeat and hopeful, and Degarmo's Rush-esque chords fit perfectly with the song. Imagine a Hair Metal song, without the cheese and quite a bit more serious!

Della Brown- A rather offbeat track, "Della Brown" is a bass-laden song not unlike Pink Floyd, with slow measures interspersed with notable choruses. Degarmo rips out rhythm guitar licks worthy of James Hetfield, and his ability to play a solo is incredible. Tate's emotional vocals keep the song moving, and "Della Brown" is a slow, but ultimately rewarding track.

Another Rainy Night(Without You)- Much like The Scorpions, "Another Rainy Night" finds Queensryche shedding much of their Progressive Metal roots, taking on power chords and emotional lyrics. Power Metal never sounded better, as Tate's "lost-love" vocals and Degarmo's rhythmic power chords blend to create a mix between "Rock Me Like A Hurricane" and Queensryche's "Jet City Woman".

Empire- A dark track about our dying culture, "Empire" combines dark lyrics, sarcastic vocals, and doomy guitar licks to create an uncompromising look at today's degrading society. Although the "advertisement" thing is annoying, it's hard not to like this track, as it's dark tone sets it apart from the other tracks.

Resistance- One of Queensryche's strongest, "Resistance" could have easily been a hit, a happy medium between The Scorpions and Van Halen. Tate's sing-a-long vocals are very catchy, and Degarmo's guitarmanship reminds me of Rush's modern material. Very addictive and ahead of its time.

Silent Lucidity- Queensryche's best-known track, "Silent Lucidity" is actually much different from their other material. Featuring orchestration from Michael Kamen, Queensryche made an offbeat Pink Floyd-ish track, using Degarmo's brilliant folky rhythm guitar melody and Tate's mysterious vocals to create a ballad unlike any heard before(or after). Epic and beautiful.

Hand On Heart- A melodic rocker, "Hand On Heart" is sure to make you pull your lighter out and dance. Degarmo mesmerizes you with his electric symphony, and Tate sings a perfect medium between Dio and Bruce Dickinson. Another song that could, and should, have been a hit!

One And Only- Another melodic rocker, "One And Only" combines the tone and beat of The Scorpions, the vocals of Iron Maiden, and the musicianship of Rush to create a slow, yet rewarding track.

Anybody Listening?- "Anybody Listening?" is a song about living in the spotlight, and the best since Rush's "Limelight" to deal with the subject. The beat is very dark, with mysterious guitars and suspenseful lyrics, and the song develops into an epic rocker not unlike you'd come to expect from Dream Theater. A great ending to an album!

In 2003, Queensryche's catalog was remastered with lyrics, expanded liner notes, and extra tracks. Empire has three extra tracks, "Last Time In Paris", the folky "Scarborough Fair", and "Dirty Lil Secret". This new remaster only makes me like the album more!

Overall, 'Empire' is a worthy follow-up to 'Operation: Mindcrime', displaying epic, beautiful, and emotional music, while keeping those familar progressive influences that Queensryche fans have come to know and love. Chris Degarmo and Michael Wilton are excellent guitarists, and their Rush and Pink Floyd influences transcend into remarkable guitar melodies. Geoff Tate develops his own vocal range here, and moves further away from the Dickinson-esque vocals he commonly used on the last few albums. Although it's more commercial and more accessible, I don't like it as much as Operation: Mindcrime, because the darker tracks seem a little better than Empire's upbeat, love and relationship tracks. Not to say Empire is bad, it's phenomenally good.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO FANS OF POWER METAL, PROGRESSIVE METAL, RUSH, AND QUEENSRYCHE! MORE COMMERCIAL, BUT WHO CARES? I DON'T HEAR ANYBODY YELLING "SELLOUT".

Killer Kuts- "Best I Can", "Jet City Woman", "Resistance", "Silent Lucidity", "Anybody Listening?", "Last Time In Paris", and "Scarborough Fair".

Also Recommended-

Operation: Mindcrime- Queensryche

Crazy World- The Scorpions

Vapor Trails- Rush

Thanks For Reading!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
To this day, a staggering number of people insist that to entertain is to sell out and surrender growth and innovation. Granted, the frequncy of the stars aligning just right is about as often as a snowball forming in that dark place down below, but it HAS happened, it STILL happens, but never more noticably than in the all-around musical masterpiece "Empire," from the "progressive" "metal" band, Queensryche.
Those quotations are there because Queensryche deserves more than routine catagorization. Their music is at times heavy, and often intelligent, and that's about all the description you should need. If you realize that the past 10 years of mainstream music has been a case of record companies shooting themselves in the foot, this review shall serve to educate you that this album was one of the last appearances of greatness to strike mainstream popularity - it's a good thing Queensryche got this album in before it all went down hill!
The album; dashes of Pink Floyd/Rush/Bon Jovi/Def Leppard/Wagner!
One of my favorite songs ever is the closing track "Anybody Listening?" Epic emotion, powerful vocals, sustained guitar landscapes `a la David Gilmour, operatic theatrics `a la Les Miserables. The song is an adventure, a journey, with changing keys, moods and sections. Everything that a best-song-ever should be is in this unique composition.
Then there's the song that "broke them", despite a very successful prior album ("Operation: MindCrime"). If you only know Queensryche for one song, it's "Silent Lucidity." Granted, it's a bit simpler than much of their work, but just as with "Anybody Listening?", it is a wonderful journey of the mind, "trying to explain to someone the unexplainable," in the words of vocalist Geoff Tate. It is a highly emotional ballad that fits in just fine with the rest of the band's repertoire.
Most of the album is very strong with no filler, but the other big highlights are the songs "Empire," and "Another Rainy Night." These songs deserve some of the highest praise ever, because they adhere to this intelligent-meets-popularity formula better than almost any other song. They deserve even MORE praise, because they are not ballads. They are hard rocking songs, and the former (the title track) was actually quite the popular 'hit.' Can you believe, thinking of a 'hit' as actual good music? It IS possible. These songs are in the normal verse-chorus format, with amazing solos and guitar harmonies, intelligent lyrics, creative chords, and pure heart and soul. They rock like nobody's business, but also allow many people to relate to the music, who normally would be satisfied with bands that only make 10% the amount of effort. It just doesn't get much better than this.
The hardcore fans want their "...MindCrime", but I am going to cave in here - "Empire" is my [just barely]favorite Queensryche album, and the fact that it was very popular doesn't change the fact that it deserved what it got and more. MindCrime is also great - but for once in music history, selling less records doesn't mean it must be better music! "Empire" is the epitome of "exception to the rule." Commercial music hasn't allowed for this much creativity since.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2002
(The review title is a bit cheesy, but it sounds good, right?)
This is the first 24 karat gold disc that has become a part of my collection. It was also the only one I really wanted. However, I delayed for a long time. After all, Empire is one of the best recorded rock albums ever (and one of my favorite albums). Could the gold disc be that much better? It professes to "reproduce the ultimate sound of a classic recorded performance without the digital harshness and irregular plated surface of standard aluminum discs." This is supposed to have a great effect on the recording. (Until recently I foolishly thought these discs were just funky items for ostentatious collectors.)
I received this CD as a gift, and now I can assuredly say I was stupid for the hesitation. As good as Empire was recorded before, this is way better. Every last instrumental ingredient is remarkably strong and identifiable. The hard rocking songs, like "Empire" and "Jet City Woman," have so much more punch. The clarity of the rumbling bass, coruscating guitar lines, and shivery hissing cymbals call even more attention to the band's superb instrumental ability. (I've gained much more appreciation for Scott Rockenfield as a drummer because of this). The "human instrument," Geoff Tate, has never sounded better. On "Silent Lucidity" it sounds like he's in the same room with you. On the same song, the orchestra's cadence glimmers with ten times the intoxicating power. Beautiful!
The greatest effect of the gold disc is heard on one of my favorite 'Ryche songs, "Anybody Listening?" It is definitely the best song ever written about being in the spotlight. I like Queen's "The Show Must Go On," Rush's "Limelight," and the pertinent songs on Marillion's Afraid of Sunlight album, but this is way better. The heavy, textured arrangement sounds more visceral and penetrative, increasing its emotional resonance.
More casual fans may not be willing to buy the gold disc, but anyone who loves Empire should definitely invest in this indispensable release.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2000
Five stars are NOT NEARLY enough for this CD. I compared the "regular" version and the "gold" version of this CD one track at the time and came to the conclusion the other albums should be released on this label RIGHT NOW! I own several other Gold discs, and this one is a classic example of a true improvement in sound quality. See it as the difference between an old vinil album found in the attic from the "pre CD" era and the first time you heard the same album on CD. Well... The same shock is about to happen here...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2003
Easily one of the top - and most well known releases by a staple band in the progressive rock world. Many of these songs hint of something larger... almost as if they were each lifted from a movie soundtrack. (If you want a COMPLETE epic, check out "Operation: Mindcrime"!)
All throughout, the band exhibits their trademark "tightness", both instrumentally and vocally. The guitar work is flawless and very engaging and the truly singable melodies will haunt you even after you press the stop button. The arrangements remind you that this is NOT your standard rock band - but they are never TOO progressive as to frighten off people who are new to the more advanced styles of music. If you are looking at possibly exploring "deeper" music, this is a good start.
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