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Queensryche: Empire- 20th Anniversary Edition (remastered)

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.

CD2: Live at London's Hammersmith Odeon (11/15/90): The bonus CD with the Empire Anniversary edition is a magnificent live concert which was delivered to their fans only three months after the album had come out and there isn't a bad note on it. Queensryche did not rest on their laurels after being proclaimed as geniuses for the work done on "Mindcrime" and the fans could be rest assured that Empire was the album to put them over the top and make them a household name. The show is very strongly focused on the new album and we get more than half of it. Having not seen Queensryche touring for this release I really enjoyed getting to hear them do these songs when the album was still in its infancy. The material was indeed fresh and opened a new door for the band and the fans that were still following them. There was great songwriting on the tracks and all of the tunes were delivered excellently in the live sense which is proven with this concert recording. The band during this show is a tight machine and Geoff's voice is on the money with every single note. I was very glad that they decided to include this with the anniversary edition.

That being said, if you don't already own the remastered Empire then you have no excuse now and must get out and order yourself a copy. It's available in digital format for those who prefer that method but since I am of the Old School, I prefer a physical copy that I can browse through its booklet and enjoy the photos from as well as re-appreciate the lyrical content. The special edition will also be made available for a limited number on vinyl and each physical version comes with postcards. Happy Anniversary Queensryche on your achievements based on Empire. My suggestion is to relax over a couple of bottles of "Insania" wine and please save a glass for me.

Track Listing CD1:
1. Best I Can
2. The Thin Line
3. Jet City Woman
4. Della Brown
5. Another Rainy Night (Without You)
6. Empire
7. Resistance
8. Silent Lucidity
9. Hand On Heart
10. One And Only
11. Anybody Listening?
12. Last Time In Paris bonus
13. Scarborough Fair bonus
14. Dirty Lil Secret - bonus
Track Listing CD2:
1. Resistance (live)
2. Walk In The Shadows (live)
3. Best I Can (live)
4. Empire (live)
5. The Thin Line (live)
6. Jet City Woman (live)
7. Roads To Madness (live)
8. Silent Lucidity (live)
9. Hand On Heart (live)
10. Take Hold Of The Flame (live)

Added: August 29th 2010
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3786
Language: english

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