Formed in the early 1980s, Queensryche started their career sounding much like a junior version of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, by the mid-'80s, the Seattle-based metal band had begun to form its own musical identity, culminating in 1988's OPERATION: MINDCRIME, a sprawling cinematic concept album that received widespread acclaim and led to international success. The group's follow-up, EMPIRE, featured catchy melodies and more straightforward songwriting, showcasing the vocals of frontman Geoff Tate and leading to an even wider audience, thanks in no little part to the unlikely top 10 hit lullaby "Silent Lucidity." In the late 1990s, Queensryche experienced a bit of a slump, largely due the departure of founding guitarist Chris DeGarmo, but in 2003, DeGarmo returned to record TRIBE.
Long dubbed "the thinking man''s metal band," Queensryche have always been difficult to classify; somewhere between Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd. Mindcrime was their breakthrough album, garnering the band commercial and critical success. Arguably their best release, this is a complex, ambitious effort, with top-notch music and a complicated storyline (a disillusioned fortune hunter of the Reagan era joins an underground movement to assassinate political scumbags) that flows smoothly from start to finish. The combination of experimental, progressive music with shorter, more radio-friendly songs works well, and enabled the band to release singles from the album while keeping the story intact. These shorter songs provide the album''s most exciting moments; "Revolution Calling," "Eyes of a Stranger," and "I Don''t Believe in Love" are some of the best metal songs out there. --Genevieve Williams
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