I’ve owned many Queen albums for many years and this is the one that’s at the top of my list hands down. A Night At The Opera was excellent, but what they achieved on that album dosen’t come close to the depth and complexity of this progressive rock/metal masterpiece. This is basically one large dark, medieval and complex 40 minute epic split into 11 sections, or songs. This starts off with the guitar instrumental “Procession”, flows into the heavy medieval rocker “Father To Son”,then flows into “White Queen”, which is soft but features heavy parts in it. Then comes “Some Day One Day”, a soft rocker sung by Brian May. “The Loser In The End”, is a rocker, this time sung by Roger Taylor. Now comes “Ogre Battle”, probably the heaviest on the disc. Then comes my favorite progression of the album: “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke”, is very quirky and manic and is very all over the place. It’s actually based on a painting by Richard Dadd, and the painting is just as complicated as the song is. The mania is now calm as we flow into the beautiful and haunting “Nevermore”, which features Freddie’s beautiful and heavenly falsetto. Now we enter the climactic epic of the album “The March Of The Black Queen”, if you thought “Bohemian Rhapsody”, was bizarre, well this is probably over the rainbow bizarre. There are many tempo shifts, idea changes and it is unbelievable. I can’t even explain it, you have to hear it on your own. Now we flow into “Funny How Love Is”, which is very pop oriented and finally lightens up the mood for the otherwise dark album. And It ends with the only hit of the album “Seven Seas Of Rhye”.Overall, to me this was Queen’s shining hour.P.S. It took me 5 months to appreciate this albm as a whole, and I was 12 years old when I first got it. I wouldn’t recommend starting off with this album as it can be too much for the unexperienced Queen fan. Start off with their Greatest hit albums, News Of The World and A Night At The Opera to get a feel for Queen’s art rock and hard rock roots. Then after you feel tired of those, then you can get into Queen at their most progressive and out there- and best-Queen II.Thanks.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Queen II – their 2nd album (of course!) is one of their best albums.I have the version that was in Queen – The Crown Jewels Box Set and the sound is awesome! For those that haven’t listened to this album, beware — like many reviewers said: this ain’t your “We Will Rock You” or “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” material. This is sit back and take a journey material. You have to hear it from beginning to end. It all flows so well. Especially Mercury’s side long opus (Ogre Battle > Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke > Nevermore > March Of The Black Queen > Funny How Love Is > Seven Seas of Rhye).There is no one highlight but if I had to pick one it’d have to be “March of The Black Queen”. This is pre-Rhapsody at it’s finest, but heavier and with a different angle.Yes…it has campiness, screaming harmonies, heavy guitars and drums, delicate piano ballads, and mid-evil lyrics.So bizzare that it worked!!!Get it now!
When it comes to first impressions of Queen II, many listeners say they feel overwhelmed, disappointed, or even disgusted. Why?
If you pull apart the songs and examine their single threads, what you find goes BEYOND motley:
–tenderly lilting piano with plaintive falsetto vocals (Nevermore)
–jarring vocal harmonies delivered in shrill, open-throated staccato SCREAMS (Ogre, March)
–fiery speed-metal riffs (Ogre)
–impish harpsichord and piano backing a strange, rollicking stories about fairy creatures, medieval village folk, and adventures in times of myth (Feller, Rhye)
–duelling lead guitars swirling like so much an intra-cranial maelstrom, while wave after wave of a**-kicking metal riffs crashes against your skull (Father to Son-guitar solo)
–simple, serene acoustic guitar rhythms driving plain melodies (Some Day, Funny)
Thus, to the casual fan, Queen II can feel like an irritating hodge podge of songs that bend and shift beneath your feet.
One possible exception is “White Queen,” which may appeal to those who crave a good, melodramatic ballad. The music & lyric swell in a crescendo of emotion. At climax, it breaks into one of the most God-beautiful epiphanies of regret I’ve ever heard recorded: “my Goddess hear my darkest fear: I speak too late/it’s for evermore that I wait.”
So, the genius of this album really emerges in the SYNTHESIS of the diverse threads into a manic tapestry of joy, regret, yearning; it’s the passionate bliss of creating wild-eyed tales in strange settings; or it’s the common pleasure of rocking out to the sound of your amped-up guitar.
“Loser in the End”, drummer Taylor’s song, is a fairly dated rocker – I generally fast foward right to Ogre Battle – but, the rest of album achieves a rare and brilliant alchemy, difficult to describe. I’ll try to put it in context of the other music Queen was producing at the time.
I think Queen’s first album “Queen”–while decent–was maybe a bit too rough and derivative of early-70’s hard rock…kind of like art students who loved to jam to the heavy bands of that time. By contrast, albums from “Opera” to “Jazz” tended toward TOO MUCH refinement and compartmentalized song-writing; or they overly wore the imprint of the producer (e.g. Mack & “The Game”).
Yet, on Queen II, the band caught an updraft of chaotic creativity. I hear May & Mercury still influencing each other, still cross-pollenating and still wrestling with each other, OUT LOUD.
If this description was too arcane, then I’ll use the time-honored idioms of SEX, DRUGS, and ROCK’N'ROLL to break down my “highlight” songs in a different way:
Procession/Father to Son: Think Coldplay having sex with early-Sabbath; Politik meets War Pigs (roughly)
White Queen – Think Chris Isaak having sex with Pink Floyd on the Dark Side; an ethereal, acoustic, swelling ballad of yearning & loss
Ogre Battle – Think Motorhead having sex with early-Rush; Ziggy-era Bowie stands watching nearby; Bowie lowers the hashpipe and in a croaky voice says, “God, that’s loud; but oh, how lovely!”
Nevermore – Elton John, a bit tipsy, sucks up a lungful of helium and launches into a rueful ballad, touched with a bit of baroque whimsy
Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke – Elton John drops some “good” acid and thinks about a painting of a fairy-village scene
Black Queen – Elton John’s acid trip turns bad; Pete Townsend and Tina Turner appear; by turn, they torment and tantalize Elton, who plays out these cycles of angst/ecstacy in a dark 1st draft of Bohemian Rhapsody
Seven Seas – Coldplay doing speed with Roger Daltrey; a weird, megalomaniacal vibe takes over
As a 12-year old kid in Utah (1983), I thought I was so far-out cool to have bought such a weird, freaked-out album. I had loved my Uncle Dave’s copy of “Sheer Heart Attack” for several years, but “Queen II” took me a few months to digest. It was worth it…21 years later, these compositions, though dated in a few moments, remain suprisingly fresh & avant garde.
If you like music to be predictable, pleasant, and familiar, STAY AWAY FROM THIS ALBUM. But if you like Queen and you’re up for a careful listen and a wild ride…have at it.
QUEEN II wasn’t as sucessful as A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and you won’t find any anthem like “We are the Champions” in it, but it is the best Queen album.They never sounded as authentic as in this album. Ok, the lyrics may be too naive for an adult to sing seriously, buy who cares? It’s only rock’n'roll, anyway. The arrangements are precious and the approach unique. Do you know any other band that would compose “The March of the Black Queen”, “Nevermore” or “White Queen”? They are 100% Queen.The highlight is “Father to Son”, an epic ballad that manages to contain somewhere in the middle the most devastating heavy riff of Queen’s career. “Ogre Battle” (in its own eccentric way) and Roger Taylor’s “The Loser in the End” (a more mainstream rock) deliver some of the best heavy rock in town. “The Fairy Feller’s…” is so exquisite but it is a splendid example of Mercury’s flamboyant talents. “Some day One Day” is such a lovely Brian May song, the gentle voice and the amazing guitar tones offering a moving number.The hit of the album was “Seven Seas of Rhye”, but more than any other Queen album, the second one was made to be heard as a whole. For those that like early seventies heavy-progressive rock or are curious to listen to the powerful Queen in its most radical moments, QUEEN II is a great option!
“Queen are one of those rare groups that sound like nobody but themselves…They made their own sound.”
Thank you so much Stanley Runk. That’s something that seems to escape many Queen fans (and detractors): Queen’s overwhelming originality. They hardly sounded like anyone during their time, and they incorporated elements and ideas into their music that other bands wouldn’t, or possibly couldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Hell, they were even like the only band I can think of who made progressive rock without a single use of a synthesizer during the 70s progressive rock movement. But, Queen were far more than just some “progressive rock” band, or a “hard rock” band or a “glam” band. They were above all of that cheap labeling.
Which brings us to this disc – an album that to this day still amazes me with it’s sheer brilliance and inimitability. The musicianship is unique, inventive, clever, elegant, sophisticatedly sexy and compelling, and the amounts of complexity found within the album border on unfathomability. What’s more astounding is how the album frequently contrasts dark & light, elegant & naughty, and brash & soft moments, added with the hyper-complexity in arrangements which still leave room for ethereal, angelic melodies and vocal harmonies, all in Queen’s unique, Classicism-drenched style. Queen made all of this work so well, and all of this is what makes it the tantalizing and spellbinding wonder that it is, and after many years of listening to this album, I’m still discovering subtleties buried underneath it’s mysterious surface. Freddie Mercury’s talents were far too exquisite, possibly even greater than his own understanding. He could do anything he wanted, and go anywhere he wanted with his superhuman vocal and songwriting abilities: he could be the Diva, the angel, the demon, the sorcerer, the seducer…you name it; and it shows on this disc.
This album is possibly more important in practical terms than many people may realize. The operatic qualities, the hyper-complexity in arrangements, the dark atmosphere and the heavy metal blasts found here arguably and inadvertently helped prototype (or advance) what would later be known as “progressive metal.” When you listen to some of Brian May’s arpeggios and riffing, Freddie Mercury’s powerful voice, and the overall dark atmosphere of the album, you can easily pick up on bits that can be heard in the music of important progressive metal bands like Queensrÿche, Dream Theater, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and possible others. Ironically enough, each of these aforementioned bands were influenced by Queen.
The album opens with “Procession,” Brian May’s grandiose guitar orchestration which also features a clever guitar/amplifier effect – get ready for this — mimicking a heartbeat mimicking a drum pattern. This then segues into the fiery balladry of “Father To Son,” which features a section of dizzying vocal polyphony and polyrhythms, which are later followed by the big crash of Brian’s guitar crunch, which then gives way to one of the most violently explosive instrumental sections to be heard in all of classic rock. Freddie’s vocals on here are astounding as well.
“Ogre Battle” is a blistering progressive metal rocker with some hot-oiled riffing from Brian, which then segues into the beautifully outrageous (more appropriately; arty) and elegant Bach-meets-manic whimsy of “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke.” “Nevermore” is a brief, but haunting, ethereal ballad featuring some of the most beautiful and precious vocal harmonies, some of them just happen to be operatic. “The March of The Black Queen” seems to bring bits of everything before this into full circle. This track seems to twist and morph into a different mode every few seconds or so, which makes it sound like a dozen different songs rolled into one. It showcases a dizzying mix of opera, metal, ballad, Broadway, glam and more. “Funny How Love Is” is an enchanting ballad featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, and “Seven Seas of Rhye” is the only hit on the album. Needs no explanation.
Queen has contributed some of the most daring and original material to popular music that still has not been equalled, and they entered into territory that still hasn’t been charted. _Queen II_ is one of the finest examples of this, if not the finest. They would go on, and release many important albums after this, but they would never again make anything as bold and risqué as this. My words for this album will run well past the 1,000 word limit. Simply put: this is my favorite album of all-time, and by my favorite band of all-time. Please enjoy.