Anything and everything Chris does, I buy, period! If you enjoy hard rock or metal, give it a whirl. Chris’ insightful lyrics, guitar riffs and chord changes leave all listeners impressed. His backing vocals, melodies and harmonies are something the band can’t survive without.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
THEY are a great band and my favorite band!!! So what else is there to say???They are an absolutely brilliant band and one of a kind looking for next “brand new cd” not a collection. But a BRAND NEW COLLECTION!!!!
Queensryche veered left in the 80’s when all the other metal bands veered right; this Seattle rock troupe decided not to follow the then current leanings of Van Halen or Motley Crue, instead, the looked to Rush, Pink Floyd and the English wave of metal as signified by Iron Maiden. It made them something of a dark horse in 80’s/90’s metal; while they did become very successful, they’re more underrated than recognized. “Sign Of The Times” covers Queensryche’s EMI/Capitol records tenure and shows that the band had a solid, consistent run of albums.
This best of starts off with some of Queensryche’s earliest material “Queen Of The Reich.” While it’s nothing spectacular, it shows off the band’s proclivity for old English power rock, along with lead singer Geoff Tate’s Rob Halford/Ronnie James Dio vocal fireworks. But the growth the band sported throughout their career is obvious on the next track, the ominous Warning. It’s on a par with some of Black Sabbath’s best. Nothing could have prepared fans for the breakthrough to come; a metal concept album about control, paranoia and government subterfuge, Operation: Mindcrime.
A concrete rock-opera with songs that also worked separately, “Mindcrime” remains a classic album from the period. “Eyes of a Stranger” and “I Don’t Believe In Love” from that album make it to this collection, and still sound terrific. The band now had critical and commercial cred to add to their rabid fanbase, so when “Empire” landed, it gave Queensryche both their biggest seller/charting album, as well as a hit single. “Silent Lucidity” was an oddity even for this group, a Pink Floydian lullaby that was highly original in that the band no had established themselves as a force in rock.
Unfortunately for the band, grunge took over the more fickle of the rock audience, and both the albums Promised Land and Hear in the Now Frontier took it on the chin. The band stayed with their guns and you can hear it on “Real World” and “Sign of the Times;” Queensryche didn’t change their style just to keep commercially active. When these songs play in context within the rest of this best of, there’s no jarring disconnect. “Sign of The Times” plays all the way through like a complete album. Guitarist Chris DeGarmo (on all cuts except the last two) could move between electric and acoustics and make then sound specific to the song, not always an easy thing to do in a hard rock band. He’s the only member to have left the band, which helps explain this album’s consistency.
“Sign of The Times” makes a strong case for Queensryche being held to the same praise as their contemporaries, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin or even the more cerebral moments of Blue Öyster Cult or Rush. Maybe you don’t know Queensryche from Mary Queen of Scots, but their best work stands as strong as some of their better known chart-mates of the time.
At first look, this compilation probably seems like another “greatest hits” CD. After all, the record companies have released at least two Queensryche greatest hits CD’s plus a box set. Queensryche fans already own all the songs on the first cd, so it wouldn’t make sense to buy this disc in the single disc format that is available unless you are new to the band. The second disc is the gem. Queensryche has compiled a bunch of demos and other limited released stuff on one CD. I am sure that the band did this for just the hard core Queensryche fans who have been waiting for unreleased material for quite sometime. The first three songs on disc two are demos from the band Myth which was pre-Queensryche. It is so great to be able to hear classic Queensryche sound that was never released. Although the titles to these songs appear on later QUeensryche albums, the Myth demos are completely different from what ended up on the official album releases. Some of the other material on disc 2 has appeared in some shape or form on other releases, such as Imports and re-released albums, but it is nice to have them all in one place. No more searching through ebay for rare singles and imports to obtain just one song. I would recommend the double disc to all Queensryche fans. I wonder if the band has held back anything else for future release?
I have to be honest, it seems like every time I turn around, another Queensryche compilation comes out– I realize the band’s heyday has come and gone, but this odd attempt at the record labels to raid the back catalog for all its worth never made much sense to me. Further, their only real chance at success in marketing this is likely to those of us who are completionists and are willing to blow $20+ on this limited edition for the half dozen or so rare tracks. I’m guessing anyone looking at this is probably already a Queensryche fan, so I’ll be focusing this review largely on the value of this set to an older fan. I reviewed the single disc version of this separately to discuss content/track selection and I’ll provide a brief overview here.
Queensryche has released nine albums and an EP in the 25 years or so they’ve been recording– this collection is a sampling from that. With only 17 tracks to work with, that’s a lot of ground to cover, and this ends up being significantly unbalanced, with an odd emphasis on very early material (4 of 17 tracks from their debut EP and first album, “Warning”, which in my assessment were both little more than signs of things to come, combined with only 2 tracks from their last three records). In some ways, this is pandering to the audience of nostalgia– a group I’ve never been a part of.
The second disc is where the value to the collector is, but there’s a bit less than you’d initially be led to believe– the set collects 15 unreleased tracks and rarities, but the rarities aren’t as rare as they used to be as six of the tracks can be found on the reissue of the band’s catalog from a few years back. This leaves only nine tracks of real value and while some of the rest is fantastic (most notably the cover of “Scarborough Fair”), odds are if this set seems like a good idea, you have it already.
The remaining material… quite honestly much of it has value more for historical purposes than for merit. Three demos from Geoff Tate’s (and Kelly Gray’s) pre-Queensryche band Myth are presented, including two tracks Queensryche would later rewrite. One thing that’s clear is that Tate and guitarist Chris DeGarmo were meant for each other– these tracks aren’t exactly bad per se (although they are pretty low fidelity), but they’re not terribly good either, pretty much straight metal the likes of which Queensryche was rarely inclined to pursue. Likewise three early Queensryche demos from “The Warning” (including one unreleased tracks) are a bit lackluster compared to what ended up on the album– they’re nice from a historical perspective but other than that I could have lived without them. The two live tracks are of a bit more value– “Della Brown” and “Silent Lucidity” both receive superb acoustic readings, the former in particular is unnervingly sensitive and insistent (and every bit as good as I remember from the MTV show way back when).
The track that’s really anticipated though is new (or unreleased? It’s tough to tell) recording “Justified”, composed by departed guitarist Chris DeGarmo. Similar in feel to the material on “Hear in the Now Frontier”, “Justified” is a midtempo rocker, full of sludgy guitars that sound like they came from some other Seattle band (not necessarily a bad thing, mind you…). It’s certainly a good enough song to make you wish that a full up DeGarmo/Queensryche reunion would happen– it has an energy and subtlety to it that seems to be lacking without him.
I can’t say whether this is exactly a good value for anyone– if you’re new to the band, I feel you’re better off checking out either “Operation: Mindcrime” (if you come from a metal background) or “Promised Land” (a progressive one). If you’re an old hand, you’ll probably want this for the rarities, but it’s not exactly high reward for your dollar.