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Empire

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★★★★½
(46 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews See All →

  • In the summer of 1990, when “Last Time in Paris” (a soundtrack song included here as a bonus cut) was released to radio, fans of the group wondered if they could repeat the cult success they had with the concept-record, ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ (1988). We were pleasantly suprised a few weeks later when the title track to this commercial breakthrough record hit the airwaves.1. Best I Can. Although the lyrics are a bit on the pedestrian side (i.e., about a wheelchair bound individual seeking inspiration), this is a musically powerful opening track.2. The Thin Line. This is one of the best-sounding tracks the band has ever produced as well as one of their strongest love songs. Why this was not chosen as one of the many singles is beyond me.3. Jet City Woman. Although this is another love song and one of the two mega-successful singles, it has a narrative quality that was (is) unique for its time.4. Della Brown. Over a previously uncharacteristic jazz-like jam, Geoff Tate relates a poignant narrative about a homeless woman.5. Another Rainy Night. Along the same musical/lyrical lines as “Jet City Woman”, this was another semi-successful power ballad.6. Empire. As with all highlights of the rock genre in general, the title track is a musical juggernaut and a lyrical social indictment, and it has remained a mainstay in the live sets for good reason.7. Resistance. The opening track on the supporting tour, this is another call-to-arms social commentary rocker, as with “Empire”.8. Silent Lucidity. If you never heard this highly-orchestrated piece about the lighter side of dreamland (see “Enter Sandman” by Metallica for the darker side), then you have been living under a rock.9. Hand On Heart.10. One and Only. If there is any filler on this record, it is “Hand on Heart” and “One and Only”, which are inferor takes cut from the mould of (and thus, superfluous to) “Jet City Woman” and “Another Rainy Night”.11. Anybody Listening? As was correctly noted above, this tune is, thematically speaking, Queensryche’s “Limelight”, but instrumentally a much lusher picture than the Rush classic and one of the highpoints on the record.Among the b-sides not already mentioned is a rather (over-)dramatic cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” (actually recorded during the ‘Rage for Order’ (1986) sessions) and another rather forgettable studio track that has not appeared, “Dirty Lil’ Secret”.

    Posted on December 8, 2009