The Pedone Factor

Stuff We Listened To

Queensrÿche: "Empire" (1990)

Another edition of Stuff We Listened To, and another 80s album. Yes, I know it came out in 1990, but it was written in 1989 and recorded in early 1990, so technically the 90s, but really, it's an 80s album. I think this proves a couple of things. First, that I’ve listened to music my whole life. Second, the 80s was WAY more than the synthpop crap you get on those “Hits of the 80s” compilation CDs.

The beginning of the 90s was a tumultuous time in my life. My parents announced their decision to get divorced. My mother’s father had just passed away. We got a dog, but had to give it up when we moved out of our house and into a condo after the divorce. I was about to become a teenager. My sister went off to college. My sister had always been into music. I still know all of the words to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” due to all of the times she listened to it while driving me around. I never liked the song, but I know it by heart. Thanks, sis.

I may not have liked Def Leppard, but she did turn me on to a similar (if better) band, with just as ridiculous a name: Queensrÿche. To be honest, I wasn’t into them at first. It wasn’t my kind of music. At the time, I was more into stuff that was a little more pop-rock. Driving bass-lines, simplistic lyrics, and drum machines. I’m not proud of this era in my musical history, especially considering that as a young boy, I listened to bands like Dire Straits and Pink Floyd.

My mother got into Queensrÿche first. She absolutely loved Geoff Tate’s voice. I… Okay, this is apparently the embarrassing confession post. I thought his voice was weird. We’d hear “Silent Lucidity” on the radio, and I’d wince. At least on the inside. Now, my mother is not a radio dictator, but she also stands her ground. It’s also six minutes. Even not liking his voice, I could handle six minutes, so, when it came on, I didn’t make a fuss, didn’t try to change the channel, didn’t try to play something else.

Which turned out to be a great move on my part. Over time, I started to realize that this voice may have been unusual, but it was not bad. In fact, I started to understand why she liked him. More importantly, I realized how good the music was, and I realized that I wanted to hear more. Around the same time I came to this realization, my mother picked up the album on cassette (because it was 1990 – it was either that or vinyl), and we started listening to it in the car, and I became a fan. The following summer, I would, as a 12-year-old, travel with my mom, my sis, and her boyfriend, and see my 2nd-ever concert.

Wait, what the heck is a “Queensrÿche”?

First off, let’s talk about the name. Originally called “The Mob”, the band recorded a 4-song Demo EP and shopped it around. When it finally caught on, their manager asked them to change their name, as there were already a couple of bands called “The Mob” and so they decided to play on the title of the first song on the demo, “Queen of the Reich”.

Now, while “Queen of the Reich” might be a good name for a sci-fi novel, or Alan Moore’s nickname for Margaret Thatcher, it was a little wordy for a band name. Shortening it to “Queen’s Reich” raised another problem in that the word “Reich” has some negative connotations that the band wanted to avoid. They weren’t skinheads. Far from it. They were an 80s prog-metal band – they were pretty much ALL hair.

Slicked back AND poofy. Genius.

Speaking of hair, lead singer Geoff Tate managed to have slicked back hair that was poofy at the same time. Simply amazing.

Also, I know that not all neo-nazis are skinheads (and vice versa), but Queensrÿche is progressive in more than just the musical sense, as we’ll see later.

So, they changed things up a bit, using the Middle English form of the word: ryche, which has pretty much the same meaning (realm, kingdom, or… Empire?), and added in a metal umlaut for effect. They called their logo (because what self-respecting metal band doesn’t have a logo) the TriRyche because, well, ryche… And, look, I have no idea where the “tri” came from. My guess is that, like the metal umlaut, “TriRyche” seemed cool at the time. Maybe it’s supposed to be like a trident? Except that it’s really nothing like a trident.

As for the band itself, Queensrÿche was a progressive metal band in the 80s, known for heavy music, amazing vocals, and theatrical performances. Think “Trans-Siberian Orchestra”, only instead of songs about Christmas, they sang about greed, crime, social injustices, global conspiracies, and cold take out. Chris DeGarmo, the lead guitarist wrote most of the songs, while Geoff Tate sang the crap out of them. They achieved the height of their popularity just in time for grunge to make sure it lasted for as little time as possible. Seriously. One year, we were getting all weepy and singing, “I’m smiling next to you…” and the next, we were shouting, “With the lights out, it’s less strenuous! Here we are now, in between us!” (and later, we’d read the liner notes and learn the real lyrics).

As noted, their biggest hit came in 1990, but they’d already had a big following in the metal scene for years before that, culminating in what is considered their masterpiece, 1988’s Operation: Mindcrime a certified rock opera that is simply amazing. It might be that I view it through the lens of nostalgia, but it’s a very 80s metal album that still works today, without feeling cheesy or ironic. It’s also a concept album that should be pretentious (an addict becomes an assassin and helps overthrow the government, then is framed for murdering the underage-hooker-turned-nun and committed to mental hospital), but really isn’t.

Two years later, they released Empire, which would be their most successful album ever, building on the popularity of Mindcrime, but also featuring slightly less prog-metal songs, and eschewing the idea of a unifying concept. It's less operatic, somewhat less intense, but it was more accessible, and arguably a "catchier" album. Here’s the thing though, after twenty-seven years, if you presented me with the two albums to put on the stereo, I’m picking Mindcrime 99 times out of 100. At some point, I will also question why you’re making me choose 100 times, but let’s just move on.

This doesn’t mean Empire is a bad album (especially compared to what came after it), but it’s one that I forget I own for long stretches of time. Unlike Mindcrime, I don’t often find myself saying, “I haven’t listened to Empire in a while. I should throw it on.” In the early 90s though, it was in heavy rotation, even after I got into grunge and alternative. Let’s look at why, starting with the album cover.


Okay, so I was apparently into pixel art way earlier than I thought. Of course, this is a pixelated image in an era where everything drawn on a computer was pixelated. Why was the TriRyche computer-generated? My guess is that, as this was released at the very beginning of the “computer age”, they wanted to be trendy. Honestly, though, it kinda works.

I always thought the way they stacked the E, M, and PIRE looked like the EMI logo turned on its side. Not sure there’s anything to that, though the album was released by EMI.

Now to the actual songs. Note: all song titles are links to youtube videos of the song.

1. Best I Can

This was a cool intro to an album, with distorted sounds and phrases. You can catch a male voice saying, “Don’t worry dear, he’ll never find the gun.” Then, a female voice says, “Don’t be scared.” Some conjecture that the two people are talking to each other, but I think that these are supposed to be separate memories. The man is talking to his wife at one point, probably having just purchased a gun, and trying to alleviate her fears. Later, after the wife’s fears have been realized, she’s trying to comfort their son. The noise resolves into a staccato piano playing a high-pitch riff while a boys’ choir sets up the plot of the song.

A child alone in daddy’s room,
The gun was hidden here.
No one home to catch me when I fall.
A young man now in a private chair,
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare,
But my dream is still alive.
I’m gonna be the best I can.

Really, this is just so Queensrÿche. The choir sings most of that intro, until “I fall”, when Tate takes over, still singing over the piano, until the last line, when the band hits “be the best I can”. It’s just so theatrical, it’s hard not to like.

The rest of the song is good, though the keyboards give it a little 80s cheese. The overall message of the song is positive, though, as it’s about a kid who shoots himself with his father’s gun, crippling himself, but refusing to let it keep him down.

This was a great song to see live, as it really hammered the theatrics of the band’s stage show. While Tate sings about the “backstreet hoop star”, he literally picked up a basketball and would shoot it into a hoop on stage. The best bit, though, was in the bridge, when he would hop on a large treadmill built into the stage and walk to the beat.

In 1990, I loved this song. Today, I’ll listen to about half of it, then skip ahead. Those keyboards are just so 80s.

2. The Thin Line

Another brief song intro, really just a moment of the band talking before recording. As a 12-year-old, I was never really sure what this song was about. My mother liked to try to parse songs, especially from bands like Queensrÿche, who tended to tell stories with their songs. I remember discussing the meaning of “Best I Can” with her back then, as well as some of Pearl Jam’s songs a few years later. This one, though? We never really talked about it. The song starts with the lyrics:

Another hungry look in her eyes again.
Pacing the floor,
The hunt begins.

This always made me think of “Hungry Like the Wolf”, and I figured it was about sex, or the build-up to it. It doesn’t have to be, though. I mean, it could just be about his pet cat at dinner time. Then these lines:

Skin-tight leather provides my pleasure,
Wake my fear, surge with the pressure.
Walk away, and leave forever, do I dare?

Okay, this is not about a pet. This is about sex. Honestly, over the years, that “Skin-tight leather” line has stuck with me (don’t know why). Reading the rest of the lyrics, he sings about fear, and “forbidden sin”, and other lines that harken to something a little more extreme than just sex, something more like BDSM, which would make this the second “Stuff We Listened To” post to feature a song about BDSM. The second out of two.

Are you happy now?
I walk the thin line for you.
Do just what you say to.
With fear as my friend,
I walk the thin line one more time for you.

Okay, back to 12-year-old innocent(ish) me. The versus may have screamed (well, he doesn’t scream; it’s more low-key, almost spoken) sex, but the chorus always sounded like he was breaking the law for a friend. Some buddy of his, who lived life on the edge, and dragged him along for the ride. Looking back, I realize that I should pay more attention to the lyrics.

That said, this song could still be using BDSM as a metaphor. It could be an abusive relationship, or one in which the partner asks the singer to do things for them. In exchange, the partner offers sex, but not true companionship or even love. The singer sees it’s just a game

Hand on mouth the game goes on.
Love, our stage to play upon.

But still wants to please this partner, and thus, keeps “walking the thin line” for them. I like that interpretation way better.

In any case, this is a very good song, with a driving bassline during the verses, and an explosive chorus, that really shows off Tate’s vocal range. The outro proves that just because you have keyboards, doesn’t mean you have to use them, as the keyboard “horns” push the song back into the cheesy 80s realm. Still a listenable song, though.

3. Jet City Woman

But without you I can’t breathe, you’re the air to me!

There’s something about love songs and the inability to breathe. Maybe it’s subliminal? Maybe a warning? If you’re writing an ode to someone you claim to love, and part of the imagery that best describes that relationship is suffocation, perhaps it’s time to take a good long look at said relationship. Supposedly, Tate’s second wife inspired the lyrics to this song. They divorced six years later. There might be something to this theory.

I remember this being one of the hits off this album, and while the music is great, the song itself is indicative of the direction the band was taking at this time, as it is way more commercial than most of what came before it. I mean, if you don’t think much about it, this sounds like Queensrÿche, but if you actually listen to the lyrics, it’s a straight-up love song. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily, I just feel like Queensrÿche is at their best when the songs are about something more than themselves. For example, the next song… "Della Brown"?

4. Della Brown

Wait a minute. That's not right. That can’t be right. Let me check Amazon. Oh, okay. How about Wikipedia? Damn.

Embarrassing confession time. Until literally just now, I thought the name of this song was “Delta Brown”. I think because the previous song is “Jet City Woman”, and talks about planes, I made the association to Delta. Not to mention, Delta Burke was on TV a lot around the time this album came out. So, yeah, I spent the last twenty-seven years thinking this song was called Delta Brown. Let’s just ignore the fact that Tate actually sings, “Della Brown sees it all the time”.

This is a song I overlooked for a long time, mostly because it came after “Jet City Woman”, which I didn’t particularly care for, and before, well, the rest of the album, which I really liked. Listening to it again now, I’m upset I gave it such short shrift for so long.

Not as heavy metal as earlier Queensrÿche, but it has this great, dark groove to it, with a great outro solo from DeGarmo that works down into a single arpeggio over a marching drum and sounds of the ocean, which seems random, but works, before you hear a crash of thunder and the rain (the band is from Seattle, after all). Tate’s vocals on this have a great Zeppelin-esque quality.

The song is about a woman (Della) who believes society’s myth that all you need is to look good and you’ll get by. Unfortunately, she is unprepared to deal with the reality that even if you’re lucky enough for this to be true, it will only be for a little while, and then you need to have skills to fall back on. Della has none, and ends up on the streets in Seattle.

This is more what I expect from this band. It’s personal, but also global. It deals with a specific person, Della Brown, but acts as a critique of a larger societal issue.

And rock'n'roll has exactly that image. All the bimbos in the videos and young kids don't realize that's not reality-it's a formulated image that they're meant to buy. What do we feed kids? That drinking beer and partying is the way to go, when other countries are training their kids to be scientists, and we can't keep up with that. And science is what's going to influence the world.
-Geoff Tate, Spin Magazine, 1991

See? Progressive AND progressive.

5. Another Rainy Night (Without You)

So, that thunder and rain leads right into the next song, which has an intro that could have been on “Operation: Mindcrime”. In fact, the whole song feels like it could have been on the second half of Mindcrime, with Nikki waiting for Mary to come home. Instead, it’s about a random guy pining for his lover in the rain (again, Seattle).

I really like this song. I mean, it’s basically “Jet City Woman” from the woman’s perspective, which is actually kind of cool (though I don’t think either Tate or DeGarmo intended that), but it triumphs over the earlier song in a few ways. First, that intro riff is just awesome. Second, the lyrics are, well, they’re more straightforward than JCW, but I think it’s even more impressive what Tate does with lines like:

But now my take-out food is growing cold.
And the candle’s burned a hole in the floor,
And I’m still waiting for the ring of the phone.

Cold take-out food, a not-ringing phone, and later, voice mail. How many singers can take such mundane and make them epic? Not many. Not all of the lyrics are plain, either, as we get this amazing pair of lines:

Strange how laughter looks like crying with no sound.
Raindrops taste like tears, without the pain.

Third, I love the pauses before the chorus. The entire band seems to come together, drawing in a communal breath to explode into the chorus (which they do). The ending is great, too, as the music crescendos, with Tate et al repeating, “It’s just another rainy night…” over and over until all the music stops, and we get Tate’s plaintive, “without you.”

Fourth, the use of the voice-mail voice. Queensrÿche is a band that likes to use external sounds, particularly in intros and outros, but not all that often in the middle of the song. So, when in the middle of this song, when this happens:

But tonight I’ll sit here tending the fire,
And pace the floor one hundred times in an hour,
And I’ll check the voice mail for a message you’ve called.
Voice mail: You have no new messages.
I’m all alone!

It’s kind of awesome.

And then at the end (well, at the beginning of the next song), we get an actual voice mail, but I don’t think it’s from the desired caller.

Next message, saved Saturday at 9:24pm
Sorry, I’m just… It’s just starting to hit me like a um… um… Two-ton… Heavy thing.

There’s some dispute as to the origin of the quote, but the source isn’t important. What’s great about it is how seamlessly it leads into the next song. This isn’t a concept album, but the little inter-song bits really help tie songs together, giving this part of the album a nice flow, which makes some sense, as these three songs were side two of the original LP.

6. Empire

I call this album more commercial than Mindcrime, but then this is the first single released, and again, it’s another song that might have been a B-side from the previous album. A harsh critique of the American system that leaves kids to fend for themselves if they want to make something of themselves.

The second verse gives us Johnny, a high school kid who works hard after school, trying to save up for college. If he works a lot, he might be able to afford school. Of course, will he have time to study? Probably not, and so his grades will slip. Frustrated and stressed, he discovers that he can make much more selling drugs. Eventually, he realizes that drugs and guns have a way better profit margin than going to college. This seems strangely relevant even today. This shouldn’t really be surprising, as most of the critiques in “Operation: Mindcrime” are still terrifyingly relevant today.

Honestly, while I loved this song in the 90s and even the early 2000s, it hasn’t aged well. It does give us a Geoff Tate hallmark, though, the spoken-word social commentary:

In fiscal year 1986-87, local, state, and federal governments spent a combined total of 60.6 million dollars on law enforcement. Federal law enforcement expenditures ranked last in absolute dollars, and accounted for only 6% of all federal spending.  By way of comparison, the federal government spent $24 million more on space exploration, and 43 times more on national defense and international relations than on law enforcement.

And then the solo kicks in, and what a solo it is. The song may not have aged well, but that solo is still great.

7. Resistance

Another classic intro, and a raw, balls-to-the-wall prog-metal song. Definitely less dated than songs like “Empire” and “Best I Can”, and another societal critique, this time about how we’re destroying the environment, poisoning the water, killing the trees (though the idea that we’re “making paper to fuel the information age” seems a little silly now, as we’ve moved to a much more paperless society, at least in my experience), overpopulating, and over-farming. Again, something that is still pretty relevant today.

What’s really interesting is that I had always thought of this as calling for resistance, that the shouting of it in the song was a call to arms. Listening to it now, I think I was off a bit.

Resistance! shouts a man on the right,
Can’t stop the problem overnight.
Liberal opposition, crying violation.
Stop the madness.
Through the din, one voice we should hear.
Listen to the call of the wild!

I’d never really thought about the “man on the right”, just picturing him as some dude to the right of the stage, when I really think he’s supposed to be to the right of the political center. He’s the right wing, bemoaning that there’s not much we can do. As in, he’s saying, “Yes, we should save the Earth, but it’s not just a matter of saying, ‘Save the Earth’. It’s a much bigger issue than that.” Which, okay, has morphed into today’s right wing arguing that there’s not even a problem, but that’s not the point of this.

The next bit, about “liberal opposition”, I hadn’t really thought about either, just assuming he was calling for liberals to oppose policies detrimental to the environment. Now, I believe he’s slamming the liberals for not really trying to fix the problems, but simply making a fuss over regulations.

This back and forth, the finger pointing, each side claiming the other is in the wrong, that their side has the answers, is madness, and we need to stop. He refers to it as a din, just talking heads shouting each other down, and the one voice we should really listen to is “the call of the wild”, i.e. nature itself. A non-partisan song critiquing the partisanship of the late 80s. Things have gotten better since then, right?


Sigh. Moving on.

8. Silent Lucidity

After the churning anger of “Resistance”, we’re greeted with a soft arpeggio and the soothing vocals of “Silent Lucidity”. A nice down shift, right there.

This is it, the big hit of the album, and really, of the band, which I always found fascinating, as if I were to introduce someone to this band, this is one of the last songs on these two albums I would play first. It’s really nothing like anything else they’ve done to this point. That said, it’s a brilliant song, meshing rock with symphonic orchestration and fantastical lyrics about lucid dreaming. While most of the song is mellow and acoustic, the solo starts of as a subdued rock solo, then morphs into this beautifully chaotic breakdown with hushed spoken-word bits layered over each other, building to the breathy female voice urging, “Help me” (Or, maybe “Hug me”? I like “Help me” more). It feels like a dream. Very cool.

9. Hand on Heart

Okay, the whole band singing “Hand on Heart” is a little cheesy, and this is yet another love song, but again, great riffs and guitar work, superb drumming, and the message is so earnest and honestly, a little different than most metal love songs, that you can’t help but like it. I love the opening verse, where Tate sings about seeing this person at a party, and just being in awe, then falling in love and pledging himself to this woman forever. I also heard this song a lot, falling as it does right after “Silent Lucidity”, so hearing the chorus takes me right back to being a kid.

Strange how the mind changes time and time again.
Things once important now pale in comparison.

Really kind of sums it up. I appreciated this lyric for years, and definitely relate to it now. At the risk of getting sappy, things I used to put massive stock in now take a backseat to my relationship with my wife.

Hand on Heart,
A promise, a word, and a voice.

Could have put that in our wedding vows. Seriously. I only had a couple of minor things I would have changed about our wedding, and this is one more.

10. One and Only

Another love song? Yup, third one on the album, though it certainly doesn’t sound like one at the beginning, with the choppy mute-open guitar riff and pounding drum beat. While the music is a little dark, the lyrics (written, I believe by Chris DeGarmo about his then-newlywed wife) are sweet, and similar in tone to “Hand on Heart”.

Honestly, the music isn’t as good as “Jet City Woman”, but I just like this song so much more. Maybe I just don’t like JCW? I think the issue is that this song and the previous are about falling in love, devoting yourself to that person, and how great that is. In “Jet City Woman”, the love feels like a burden, with lines like,

Touching your face, I feel the heat of your heartbeat
Echo in my head like a scream!
What you do to me!


I see her face everywhere, can't get her out of my mind!

Which, I think, are supposed to be kinda sweet, but the whole vibe of the song is this tortured romance, and it’s just kinda boring.

Compare that to:

The first time she looked at me,
Her smile stayed on my mind.
I never thought I'd ever meet
A woman of her kind.
Now I'm lost in a lover's daze,
And I'm not walking out.

So much metal can be built on machismo that love songs have to be torturous and gritty and melodramatic. It’s not enough to fall in love, that love has to tear you to pieces. Being apart from your loved one is a drain on your very soul. To hear metal songs that promote the softer side of love, the devotion, the joy, the tenderness, without being soft is refreshing.

11. Anyone Listening?

Some bands close their albums with a softer song. Pearl Jam has finished all of their albums with lower-key songs like “Release”, “Parting Ways”, and “All or None”. Queensrÿche, seems to follow that path here, as the song starts with an acoustic guitar playing arpeggiated chords, a lovely snaking bassline, and a mournful electric riff completing the intro. The acoustic guitar plays under the verses, with the drums really coming in during the second verse.

Then, the second verse ends with Tate’s voice holding the note as the band drops out, then slams in together in full force for the chorus.

Is there anybody listening?
Is there anyone that sees what's going on?
Read between the lines, criticize the words they're selling.
Think for yourself and feel the walls
Become sand beneath your feet.

I keep saying that these songs are still relevant, and I think some of that speaks to the timelessness of some of their messages. This one is particularly timeless, especially considering they wrote it long before social media was even a spark of an idea. The Internet has made it faster and easier than ever to convey ideas, but how often do people actually think about what they’re reading? We react without thinking, our emotions toyed with by creative headlines or juxtaposed imagery.

The song ends on a soft note, and the album closes out with the sound of rain (in Seattle? Never!).

Since releasing Empire, the band’s fortunes dipped. 1994’s “Promised Land”, while decent, continued the band’s shift from metal to pop rock. In 1997, the band released “Hear in the Now Frontier” (partly recorded in the home studio of Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard for a random Pearl Jam connection), whose album cover – featuring disembodied ears in sealed jars - was unintentionally prophetic, as many people never listened to the entire album.

At this point, Chris DeGarmo, lead guitarist and pretty much chief songwriter, left the band. The lineup was a bit fluid over the next few years, as the band plummeted to its lowest point (or so I thought), releasing a follow-up to their masterpiece, “Operation: Mindcrime”. I admit, I was intrigued. The original had a compelling story, and I thought that revisiting Nikki as he got out of prison and sought revenge on the man who’d betrayed him was a cool concept.

Then I heard it. First, there are problems with the concept. Nikki was arrested for murdering Mary, which was a frame job, but presumably, Dr. X (yes, that’s the villain’s name – I told you, that first album seriously flirted with being pretentious) turned over evidence of all of the people Nikki actually killed (21, I believe), so to think that he’d be released from prison after 20 years is a little bizarre. The idea that he’s still alive is odd on its own. X has enough connections to murder a nun and frame Nicky, why wouldn’t he just have Nicky put down in prison?

That could have been explained away though, or forgiven if the music had been good. Which it wasn’t. With DeGarmo gone, the writing fell to Tate and the rest of the band, which could have been good, as most of the original band was still there, but Tate pulled a Roger Waters and dominated the sessions, and the result is a dull, tedious affair. The album is 17 tracks long, and most of it is Nikki singing about how much he wants to kill Dr. X. At some point, he gets his revenge, and the album shifts to Nikki singing about how he killed Dr. X. They got Pamela Moore back to voice the ghost of Mary, and Ronnie James Dio to voice Dr. X himself, which should be awesome, but given how dull the story is, you’re left not caring. About any of it.

Then, things really fell apart. The band began to splinter, though they released a couple more unimpressive albums and continued to tour. In 2012, the non-Tate members of the band fired the Tates. All of them. Miranda Tate, Geoff’s stepdaughter, had been running the fan club, and his wife Susan had been their band manager for the past 7 years. Geoff remained in the band (though there are stories of a physical altercation when he found out), but only for a few more shows, and then he, too, was fired, and the band decided to continue on as Queensrÿche with a new frontman.

Then things get hilarious.

Tate did not let go of the band gently. He fought like a man terrified of losing the one thing that made him famous and sued the band, claiming he was “illegally fired”, and seeking an injunction to prevent either party from using the name, Queensrÿche. The judge denied this motion, ruling that both parties could use the name until the matter was settled. Which is exactly what happened.

In 2013, the non-Tates, released a self-titled Queensrÿche album, while Tate recorded and release Frequency Unknown, also under the name Queensrÿche, as an FU to the non-Tates. Get it? Frequency Unknown, F. U.?



The two sides eventually reached a settlement, with the non-Tates buying Tate out of the band, but giving him rights to Mindcrime (and its sequel), but only allowing him to mention his former band for two more years. Which means that if I ever want to see any of “Operation: Mindcrime” performed live, it won’t be at a Queensrÿche show, which is kind of a bummer, as in the years since the split, Queensrÿche, with new frontman Todd La Torre have found their groove again, and are once again writing and recording heavy, interesting prog-metal tunes, and their future looks pretty good.

To see “Operation: Mindcrime” live - and this is just fantastic - I would have to go see Operation: Mindcrime live. Yes, Geoff Tate, in need of a new band name said, “I have the rights to the album name, I’m going to use them!” and named his new band after his most critically successful album. I mean, I get it. I do. It was the high point of his career. Ask anyone who knows prog-metal about Queensrÿche, and they’ll rave about Mindcrime. At some point, though, you have to move on, get some distance, and perspective. Especially if the music you’re putting out now sounds like plodding, watered-down covers of that album. At least he didn’t do something ridiculous, like a farewell tour after learning he couldn’t use the name anymore.

Wait, what? … Oh.

Honestly, I can't fault him too much for this; the band was a huge part of his life that he now can't even mention. Tearing the logo off his belt and tossing it away was a little melodramatic though. Then again, this is Geofd Tate, who penned the lyrics:

Waited so long now the plane's delayed an hour.
Reminds me of all our days apart.
Hold on, just a little longer.

(Yes, this is from "Jet City Woman".)

In truth, I’ll probably never see either band live, but I take comfort in knowing that every so often, I can pull out Mindcrime, and revel in that glorious album, and a little less often, Empire. I doubt that the new Queensrÿche will ever match their early output, but I think it’s safe to say that my enjoyment of these albums is not simply nostalgia.

Well, not entirely nostalgia.

Posted: 02.15.17


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