Too many QUEENSRYCHE will forever and a day is the band that recorded 1988's conceptual masterpiece "Operation: Mindcrime". It brought the Washington based Metallers critical acclaim beyond their wildest expectations but also became an albatross around their necks. Every subsequent QUEENSRYCHE album release has been made to stand up against this provoking and intelligent Metal release and the band themselves have had to sit behind this milestone even though "Empire" sold more copies and is essentially a better record.
1990 and the Metal music world was about to be shaken to it's very core by the Grunge tidal wave of NIRVANA etc but before the castle was breeched QUEENSRYCHE turned in a quite astonishing array of consummately performed and produced songs that couldn't have sounded any more different from "Operation: Mindcrime".
Often dubbed the "thinking man's Metal" QUEENSRYCHE succeeded in crafting a technically demanding Metal record that from beginning to end oozes confidence and quality in all departments.
Listening to "Empire" is almost effortless as the band guides you through the Metal/Hard Rock vibes of "Jet City Women", "Another Rainy Night (Without You)" and the colossal title track whilst gently introducing the likes of the chart hit ballad "Silent Lucidity" and "Della Brown" and for good measure the more lengthy tracks such as "One And Only" and "Anybody Listening"? Let the band open up to initiate some of the finest Prog you'll hear this side of YES.
"Empire" combines Metal riffery, Hard Rock swagger and passages of Progressive beauty that weave seamlessly together to carve a wholly unique record in the Metal genre.
It's about time that QUEENSRYCHE are remembered for giving us something more than just "Operation: Mindcrime" after all it was fifteen years ago and the band have produced a batch of records since then. Some may argue that most bands don't release one classic album never mind a brace and that QUEENSRYCHE should be happy with their lot but with such a rich heritage behind them the days of such talented Metallers may well already be lost. (Online October 19, 2003)