Album review: Queensrÿche, Empire (1990)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 4, 1990

By Steve Newton

It looks like studio giant Little Mountain Sound might be getting a wee bit of local competition as far as attracting the world’s best bands to this city is concerned. Vancouver Studios was the locale that Seattle hard-rockers Queensryche chose to record their latest album, Empire, and the result bodes well for the facility. Although not quite as impressive as the band’s 1988 release Operation Mindcrime—which offered up an Orwellian nightmare of social injustice and some of the most musical hard-rock of the decade—the new LP is no doubt capable of expanding the band’s already burgeoning legion of fans.

With Empire, Queensryche leaves the concept album behind in favour of a more straightforward, varied array of tunes that range from the brutal (“Best I Can”) to the downright pretty (“Silent Lucidity”). Powerhouse singer Geoff Tate is in typically fine form, and the guitar team of Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton shows a taste and maturity not often seen in the molten field. Inventive bassist Eddie Jackson and bang-on drummer Scott Rockenfield round out a band that—if it continues to produce discs like Empire—is sure to be a front runner in the ’90s metal race.

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