Queensryche

“Revolution Calling” by Queensrÿche on the Sunday Song Spotlight

In late 1987 and early 1988, Queensrÿche were at frigid Morin Heights in Quebec, recording what would become their most important album.  Their first true concept album (although you could make good arguments for Rage for Order) was in fact partially inspired by the perennial Quebec separatist movement.  Singer Geoff Tate envisioned the story and characters, with guitarist Chris DeGarmo joining him on the lion’s share of the writing.  Still, it was Tate and guitarist Michael Wilton who came up with “Revolution Calling”, the third track but in all fairness, the first song on Operation: Mindcrime.  Wilton co-write a huge chunk of side one.

The eerie thing about “Revolution Calling” is how it still applies today.  Direct references to characters like the evil Dr. X aside, so much of this song is relevant to current events.

“I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth.”

“Well, I’m tired of all this bullshit they keep selling me on T.V., about the communist plan.”

“I used to think that only America’s way, way was right.  But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.

I have criticised the Operation: Mindcrime for being too “comic-book-y”, a critique also levelled at the album by revisionist reviewers in the 1990s.  Now, I’m not so sure.  As the world teeters on the brink, a song like “Revolution Calling” impacts harder than it did in 1988.  How many Nikkis are out there ready to start their own revolutions?

As we look forward to the new Queensryche album Digital Noise Alliance, let’s also look back at one of their strongest songs from Mindcrime, “Revolution Calling”, on the Sunday Song Spotlight.

REVOLUTION CALLING (Tate/Wilton)

For a price I’d do about anything
Except pull the trigger
For that I’d need a pretty good cause
Then I heard of Dr. X
The man with the cure
Just watch the television
Yeah, you’ll see there’s something going on
Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It’s just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There’s a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due
I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
Well, I’m tired of all this bullshit
They keep selling me on T.V.
About the communist plan
And all the shady preachers
Begging for my cash
Swiss bank accounts while giving their secretaries the slam
They’re all in Penthouse now
Or Playboy magazine, million dollar stories to tell
I guess Warhol wasn’t wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale
I used to think
That only America’s way, way was right
But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
Revolution calling
Revolution calling
Revolution calling you
There’s a revolution calling
Revolution calling
Gotta make a change
Gotta push, gotta push it on through
There’s something going on
There’s a revolution, there’s a revolution, there’s a revolution

VHS Archives #134: Geoff Tate of Queensryche with Terry David Mulligan in Vancouver (1991)

Ever wanted to know what the legendary Little Mountain Sound studios in Vancouver looked like?  Well, you get a white wall with “Sue was here” graffiti on it.  But, you also get the legendary Terry David Mulligan interviewing the even more legendary Geoff Tate of Queensryche in October 1991!  Peak ‘Ryche.

The band were in town for a session and Mulligan caught Tate when the band were busy sound-checking.  Lots of interesting talk here.  Queensryche has done a lot of studio work in Vancouver.  Why?  According to Tate, because Seattle didn’t have the recording technology they needed to make their kind of music!  You can hear Vancouver on the Empire album, as Geoff explains.

They also talk about “Silent Lucidity” which of course was the big song for them.  It’s not exactly clear what Queensryche were doing at Little Mountain in Vancouver at that time.  Should I ask Mike Fraser?

REVIEW: Queensrÿche – “Days O Deth” (2014 demo)

QUEENSRŸCHE – “Days O Deth” (2014 demo, released 2021 online by Scott Rockenfield)

If any rock band has had the #1 weirdest drama going on in their history, Queensryche must be considered a front runner.  First there was the “spitting incident” and 2012 split with Geoff Tate.  This drama was swiftly followed by the existence of two completely different bands touring and releasing albums as “Queensryche”.  The Queensryche brand issue was settled in a 2014 lawsuit, with original members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield winning the rights to the name for their version of the group.  A year after, Scott Rockenfield took a six-month touring leave from the band, and never returned.  It appears Scott was finally fired from Queensryche in 2018 due to non-participation.  He has not been active with the group since their excellent 2015 Condition Hüman album, the last to feature the drummer in any regard.  Queensryche carried on with vocalist Todd La Torre playing drums in the studio,  and Kamelot’s Casey Grillo drumming live.

Then suddenly in 2021, Scott Rockenfield came out breaking the silence!  Presenting a new (now defunct) “Queensryche2021” website, Rockenfield essentially declared his own version of Queensryche.  Pictures on his site were Wilton and Jackson, but not La Torre, for whom he spared no ire.  Calling La Torre a “subcontracted employee”, he unilaterally declared the current active Queensryche illegitimate.

Proclaiming “Welcome to the New World” on his site, he posted “R ya READY TO F***in’ ROCK !!!?? ….I AM !!!!!!!” [sic]

You can always tell how serious a press release is by the number of exclamation points, question marks, and ellipsis are used.

Aside from a lot of sniping, Rockenfield promised new music in 2021, but only offered one old demo.  Ironically this demo from 2014 features his nemesis Todd La Torre on lead vocals!  For 99 cents, you could download “Days O Deth” from his now-defunct website.  With the website gone, so now too is the track.

“Days O Deth” is a shorter demo version of what became “Toxic Remedy” on 2015’s Condition Hüman.  Missing is the opening guitar harmony, as it goes into a riff that was refined for the final version.  Instead of the very ‘Ryche-ian guitar harmonies that “Toxic Remedy” opens with, this one focuses on the pounding of the riff.  It’s quite cool that way.  The verses are pretty much intact as is the chorus.  While the final “Toxic Remedy” sounds more Queensryche, this demo is rougher, heavier and perhaps a touch more unique as to how it treats the riff section.

One can be certain that the legitimate members of Queensryche never saw a penny of the 99 cents paid for this download.  Therefore it is understandable if a fan chose not to pay for a demo track that Queensryche certainly deserved compensation for.  Until events unfold further, perhaps in courts, we can have no real idea what is going on with Scott Rockenfield’s role in Queensryche.  Which is unfortunate, as diehard fans no doubt would very much want and enjoy this demo.  Will it ever see an official release?  See above.  Events will unfold as they will.

4/5 stars

  1. “Days O Deth” – Srock – Orig Demo 2014 (3:14)

(Photo by Brill/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

The Very Beast Artwork of Iron Maiden on the LeBrain Train!

Great show tonight with your co-hosts  Harrison the Mad Metal ManAaron from KeepsMeAlive, and Superdekes!  We talked the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Iron Maiden Covers/Artwork (that’s a mouthful) and it was awesome.  We took a close look at:  albums, singles, T-shirts, Reaction figures, MacFarlane figures, and the Neca Powerslave Eddie.  If you like Iron Maiden, you automatically love their artwork.  Ergo, you need to watch this show!

First we unboxed some brand new Reaction Eddie figures.  Go to 0:16:50 of the stream.

Then we wished Steve Harris a Happy Birthday, and commenced with the lists!  Go to 0:24:00 of the stream.

After the conclusion of the Maiden lists, we had a freeform chat covering Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime, and a newly unearthed Black Sabbath track called “Slapback”.  Go to 2:22:45 of the stream to check that out.

Thanks for watching, and if you just want to know what Maiden art we picked, check out Aaron’s hand-written list below!  See ya next week!

#875: Love Will Find A Way

GETTING MORE TALE #875: Love Will Find A Way

First breakups are so confusing.  You’ve heard all the songs, seen all the movies.  All that remained was to experience it yourself.  Of course it’s nothing like a song!  It can hurt though, lord don’t I know it?

I treated my first breakup like I was a DJ at an event.  I planned songs.  How did that work out?  Terrible, but I did it.

When I got home and listened to some tunes, I put on “Love Song” by Tesla.  I thought, “This will be the thing to listen to.  That chorus will make me feel better.”

If only!  “Love will find a way!  Love is gonna find a way!”  Encouraging, yes…but not what I needed to make myself feel better.  Although I had not given up, I knew it was over.  I knew that love wasn’t going to find a way.  I had to think outside the box.

As it turns out, the ballads didn’t impact me as much as the heavy stuff.  Angry stuff.

“Christian Woman” by Type O Negative.  Metallica’s version of “Blitzkrieg”.  Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose”.  “Cyclops” by Bruce Dickinson.  Queensryche’s “I Am I”.  This was really hitting me!  Some of the ballads did too, such as “Someone Else?” by Queensryche, or Bruce Dickinson’s “Change of Heart”.  But those were not typical, traditional ballads like Tesla were putting out.  Each was powerful in a unique way.

That’s it:  power.  I was looking for songs with power in them.  Real power.  The breakup had sucked dry all my energy, and I needed power.  Those bands recharged me up like a battery.  Thrashing around my bedroom, I worked out all that anger.  I felt stronger after rocking out to a song like “I Am I”.  And rock out I did, in my “air band” best!  I gave myself a serious sweat when I rocked out to those songs.

Breakups might suck but they are a fertile ground for discovering (and rediscovering) music.  What we were you listening to after your first breakup?

 

#813: Ringers

GETTING MORE TALE #813: Ringers

There’s a sports phrase in the parlance of the profession:  a “ringer”.  It means boosting your team with a player who who’s above your league, usually with accusations of dishonesty or bad sportsmanship.  If you had a beer league hockey team, and your friend’s son happens to be Connor McDavid, and he substitutes for your usual center Big Jim McBob, then you have a ringer.

I was watching some live music on YouTube and wondered if there is a rock band equivalent.

Though it’s not considered cheating, did Queensryche pull a ringer when they got Todd La Torre to sing?  Todd is a fine vocalist who enables Queensryche to perform the old material properly; stuff with notes so high that only a young singer can really pull it off.  Journey did something similar with Arnel Pineda.  They wanted to play the original songs in the original keys, not tune them down for an older singer.

Original Queensryche singer Geoff Tate’s voice has changed over the decades.  That’s nature.  He can be hit or miss when singing the high stuff, so he tends not to anymore.  He’s able to steer around difficult notes and still play the song.  La Lorre has no issues with them however, adding some of his own grit to the screams.  Todd La Torre is 45 years old.  Geoff Tate is closer to his old bandmates at age 61.  If Queensryche were to look for another singer in his 60s, they wouldn’t be able to find one able to scream the opening to “Queen of the Reich”.

Go back in time further, to the early 1990s.  One band that absolutely hired a ringer was Poison when they acquired Richie Kotzen to replace C.C. Deville.

Without being too unkind, C.C. and Richie are not playing the same sport when it comes to guitar.  C.C. is a WWF wrestler, hammering you over the head with loud sloppy moves and tricks.  Richie is like a light boxer with heart, a fast contender with a feel for it.

When Poison picked up Kotzen, they plucked someone from the upper echelons to replace somebody who was basically still in the garage.  While it failed to win fans in the “get serious 90s”, it did give them an album that they never would have been able to create otherwise.  Eventually they were forced to bring C.C. back, but they can never perform material from the Kotzen album.  They’d sound ridiculous.

It could be argued that Kiss hired ringers with almost every replacement member in their band, from Eric Carr to Vinnie Vincent to Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick.  All of these guys are, on a technical level at least, lightyears better players than the original members.  But on the other hand, none of those replacements could capture the sheer vibe of the original band either.

Think about it.  When a veteran band loses an original member, do they ever replace them with a peer?  Very rarely.  Deep Purple replaced Jon Lord (age 61 at retirement) with Don Airey (54 at hiring).  But Black Sabbath replaced Bill Ward (age 71 today) with Tommy Clufetos (40 today).  No matter what Bill claims, Clufetos is simply in better physical condition.  He’s a ringer.

What is your take on this subject?  Are these guys ringers, or just regular hired guns?  Is there really a difference?

Iron Tom’s New Sh!t That Ain’t Bad 2019

Whether you know it or not, the only list you should care about every year is Iron Tom Sharpe‘s.  If you only listen to 20 albums this year…make them these 20.


  • Brant Bjork – Jacoozzi
  • Steve Earle – Guy
  • Opeth- In Cauda Venenum
  • Death Angel – Humanicide
  • John Garcia – John Garcia & The Band Of Gold
  • Elder – Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Queensryche – The Verdict
  • Black Mountain – Destroyer
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Colorado
  • Redscale – Feed Them To The Lions
  • Frozen Planet….1969 – Meltdown On The Horizon
  • Green Lung – Woodland Rites
  • Tool – Fear Inoculum
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest
  • Ian Blurton – Signals Through the Flame
  • Valley Of The Sun – Old Gods
  • Jimi Hendrix – Songs For Groovy Children
  • Villagers of Ioannina City – Age of Aquarius (Thanks Johnny Cheddar)
  • Church Of The Cosmic Skull – Everybody’s Going To Die
  • I concur with Meat…The Talking Heads are still the shit!
  • Add Dream Theater (Distance Over Time)…just listening to it now again.  It needs to be included.

Not a great year overall…nothing truly blew me away…these are merely ones that people should check out. – Iron Tom

 

REVIEW: Play It! ROCK – An EMI In-Store Play Compilation – Various Artists (1997)

Play It! Volume Seven – ROCK – An EMI In-Store Play Compilation (1997 EMI promo)

“Woah!  I own ‘Song 2’.  How about that.”

That was my first reaction upon revisiting this old promo CD from the Record Store days.  I really didn’t know that I had that song, and I’m sort of glad that I do.  This was a freebie, and not a bad one as it had some rarities on it.  In fact there’s only one artist on this disc I’d flat-out skip.  Let’s dive on in.

The first track is a rarity:  an unadvertized single edit of “Temptation” by the Tea Party.  “Temptation”, crossing the new sample-driven sounds of the late 90s with classic exotic Zeppelin, was huge.  The single edit snips off the extended intro.  Industrial rock band Econoline Crush is up second, who also had a big album (The Devil You Know) at the time.  “Home” was a memorable fast-paced single, but their big single “All That You Are”  is also included as track #14.  Far more mainstream, “All That You Are” was omnipresent in 1997.  It’s still a little too over-familiar to be enjoyable.

Skip Meredith Brooks.  I’ll be happy if I never hear the novelty song “Bitch” ever again.  Brooks has a second track on this CD, “I Need”, which suffers due to the spoken word verses.  No thanks.  Skip ’em both.  “I Need” reminds me of what I hated about 90s music.

Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” and “Everlong” were two of the greatest singles of 1997.  Fast paced, drums-a-blazing, and perfectly rifftastic.  In ’97 Grohl could do no wrong.  He released one of the few perfect albums of the year.  ’97 was Peak Foo — prove me wrong.  Flawless songs, still not taxing on the ears.  Probably never will be.

Queensryche had a new album in 1997, the ill-fated Hear in the Now Frontier.  “You” wasn’t one of the most notable songs, and here on this mainstream compilation, doesn’t fare well.  I don’t think EMI knew what to do with Queensryche, so hey let’s pick a song with 90’s intonations and throw it on this store play disc.  A second Tea Party song, “Transmission”, is its full unedited length, combining the same ingredients as “Temptation” but at lower velocity.  “Song 2” follows that, I song I’m admittedly not bored with at all.  A second Blur track later down the line, “M.O.B.” boats a cool riff and pop sensibilities.

I Mother Earth were riding a wave with their second album Scenery and Fish.  I’m not a fan of that disc and I can usually do without “Used to Be Alright”.  Fortunately Megadeth bring some metal to the proceedings.  From the underrated Cryptic Writings comes “Almost Honest”, a hard rocking single with nary a glimmer of thrash.  Great song from a period when Megadeth were quite adept at writing mainstream metal.

Rarities ahoy!  Moist’s “Tangerine” is remixed here, a mix that is far more industrial than the album, but that’s why remixes go on weird compilations I suppose.  Always fascinating, Glueleg are up next with “Dragonfly”, one of their catchiest numbers, still maintaining their weird genre-bending tendencies.

Alice Cooper steps in with a live version of “School’s Out”.  This being 1997, that automatically means it’s the one from A Fistful of Alice.  It’s a little strange hearing “School’s Out” on a compilation of all-new material, but I suppose EMI didn’t have confidence that a new Alice song (“Is Anyone Home?”) would attract new buyers.  But they were more likely to hear Radiohead’s “Let Down” and buy OK Computer instead.  It’s a stunning ballad that might have been unfamiliar to those who hadn’t bought the album yet — the exact people this CD was aimed at!  The CD closes on the slide-inflected “Faded” by Ben Harper.  It’s choked by unnecessarily grungy production.

Record companies rarely sent us free CDs, because we were a used CD store and they assumed we’d sell ’em.  What they didn’t realize was that it was usually guys like the asshole at CD Plus that would be selling their free CDs.  We’d try to be educated about what we bought, and avoid the promos like this one.  If a customer left it behind for us to take for free, it was up for grabs.  As a store-play disc, this would have been pretty good, assuming we had all those albums in stock to sell.

2.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime (1988/2003 remaster)

QUEENSRŸCHE – Operation: Mindcrime (1988, 2003 EMI remaster)

After Pink Floyd made history by releasing The Wall in 1979, concept albums fell out of fashion.   Almost a decade later, two heavy metal albums brought the artform of the full-length story back:  Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and Operation: Mindcrime by Queensryche.  Of the two, Mindcrime had the more coherent linear story, but both remain high water marks for each band.

The Queensryche album sold slowly at first, as the band refused to make music videos to let the album speak for itself.  They changed course in 1989 when “Eyes of a Stranger” made it to MTV and MuchMusic.  Fortunes changed dramatically for Operation: Mindcrime.  The album eventually went platinum.

The reason Mindcrime was better suited as an album than music videos was the connected storyline running through each song.  Employing a classic frame technique, we begin at the end with “I Remember Now”.

“I remember now.  I remember how it started.  I can’t remember yesterday.  I just remember doing what they told me…”

The anti-hero Nikki is an angry, aimless addict who fell in with a radical political group called Operation: Mindcrime.  He is a disheartened young American. “The rich control the government, the media, the law.”  Mindcrime’s modus operandi?  Using drugs and brainwashing, would-be assassins are sent out to kill strategic political targets, building to revolution.  Inequality, corruption and the media have made the country an ugly place.  Dr. X, the mastermind behind Mindcrime, has total control over Nikki.  He also uses the nun Mary, a former prostitute, to feed Nikki’s needs.  Nikki and Mary grow closer until he receives the order:  “Kill her.”  She knows too much.

The first two tracks are just setup before you get to the meat.  “I Remember Now” and “Anarchy-X” create a powerful set of images, with anthemic guitars and the sound of massive crowds rallying to a cause.  “Revolution Calling”, the first real song, begins the narrative.  “Then I heard of Dr. X, the man with the cure, just watch the television, yeah you’ll see there’s something going on.”

Nikki is indoctrinated on the title track, an ominous riffy behemoth of a song.  Dr. X uses Nikki’s drug addiction to control him.  With nothing to lose, Nikki falls for the doctor’s words.  “There’s a job for you in the system boy, with nothing to sign.”  Nikki has no use for the government or politicians.  It all sounds good to him.  On “Speak” he receives his first assignment.  “I’m the new messiah, death angel with a gun.”  On a blazing fast track with a thick chorus, Nikki falls into his new life.  “Eradicate the fascists, revolution will grow.”  On “Spreading the Disease”, another kickass track with a chorus that goes on for miles, Nikki tells the story of Mary and his distaste for the church.  “Religion and sex are power plays, manipulate the people for the money they pay.  Selling skin, selling God, the numbers look the same on the credit cards.”

Queensryche take it slower (though not soft) on “The Mission”, as Nikki starts to feel disillusionment.  “I look around, my room is filled with candles, each one a story but they end the same.”  He keeps telling himself that he’s doing what’s right.  “My mission saved the world, and I stood proud.”  But then he is given the order he dreads:  Kill Mary.  This instruction opens album epic “Suite Sister Mary”, 10 full minutes of riffs, choir and orchestra (by Michael Kamen).  The riff alone stands like a monolith.  Vocalist Pamela Moore sings a duet with Geoff Tate as the character of Sister Mary.  As for that riff?  Chris DeGarmo was the master riff composer in this band, a hole they have never quite filled.

The second half of the story commences with “The Needle Lies”.  Nikki wants out, but finds that it doesn’t work that way.  There is no “out”.  Meanwhile Queensryche strafe the speakers with a thrashy blitzkrieg.  Drummer Scott Rockenfield cannot be contained.  Then on the quiet filler track “Electric Requiem”, Nikki discovers that Mary had made his choice to disobey orders irrelevant.  Dead by her own hand, Nikki is broken and tailspins into a mad depression.  This is portrayed on “Breaking the Silence”, another stone cold winner of a song with a mighty chorus.  The chunky guitar riff is to die for.

With his memory failing him, Nikki doesn’t even know if he killed Mary himself or not.  He questions everything on the ever-cool single “I Don’t Believe in Love”, one of the most remarkable of all Queensryche songs.  Once again the writing partnership of Tate and DeGarmo struck heavy musical gold.  Two shorter tracks (“Waiting for 22” and “My Empty Room”) fill in some story points, and Nikki is eventually caught.

Operation: Mindcrime’s biggest song is its final track and first single, “Eyes of a Stranger”.  Memories are but fragments.  “I raise my head and stare into the eyes of a stranger.”  It’s one of Queensryche’s most incredible recordings, a perfect storm of guitars, vocals and melody.  It’s neck deep in drama, with Geoff Tate at his most emotive.  The story ends with some questions left unanswered.  At least until 2006’s unnecessary Mindcrime II….

Operation: Mindcrime took Queensryche to an artistic level that fans and critics always knew they could achieve.  Their debut EP showed promise.  They didn’t live up to that potential until Mindcrime.  Though good, The Warning album wasn’t a stunner like MindcrimeRage For Order was brilliant but alienating.  Even when it was first released, Mindcrime did not blow all the critics away.  Only after it had been digested slowly over time did the masses realize they were sitting on something very special.  Queensryche had done conceptual work before, but more abstract.  Nothing as well-hewn as Mindcrime.  Musically it was like they distilled everything they had accomplished thus far, and concentrated it into pure rock majesty.

The 2003 CD reissue had two live B-sides as bonus tracks.  “The Mission” was originally released in 1991 on the B-side to “Silent Lucidity”.  It is a different recording from that on the live album Operation: LIVEcrime.  “My Empty Room” is a later acoustic recording, released in 1995 as a B-side to “Bridge”.  It’s interesting for its acoustic setting and percussion, but is best heard in the context of the “Bridge” single with its other acoustic counterparts.

Is Operation: Mindcrime a masterpiece?  The story is a bit Hollywood and a tad juvenile, but the broad strokes are remarkably still valid today.  Mindcrime is rivalled by only a few.  It’s a worthy, nay, important addition to any metal collection.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Queensrÿche – Queensrÿche (1983 EP/2003 remaster)

Part I of a Queensryche two-parter.

QUEENSRŸCHE – Queensrÿche (1983 EP/2003 EMI remaster)

Sometimes a reissue is done so right you just gotta “Take Hold of the Flame”.

The 1984 debut EP by Queensryche is one such release.  The original vinyl runs shy of 18 minutes, leaving plenty of space for bonus tracks.  For this, they included the audio for all 10 songs from their first home video, Live in Tokyo.  Wishes fulfilled.

The original four track EP put the quintet from Seattle on the map.  Opening with “Queen of the Reich”, the young band showcased their knack for riffs and screaming vocals.  Geoff Tate’s opening scream cannot be touched.  Tate seemed embarrassed of these songs later on (all written by Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo with one lyric by Geoff).  Though the songs are clearly a starting point, they’re nothing to be embarrassed by.  “Queen of the Reich” remains simple, majestic and powerful.

The “Nightrider” sails away but the riffs go on with pneumatic precision.  Early Queensryche were not that dissimilar from early Iron Maiden, but at least they were doing that sound well.  Curiously enough this self-produced EP was not recorded with the intention to release it.  Queensrÿche is actually just a demo, but the band were starting to make waves on the live scene and so the four songs were released as an EP.  It eventually went gold; very rare for an EP.

Flipping over to side two, “Blinded” is screamy and raw.  Not one of the bands’ most memorable tunes, but soon arrives “The Lady Wore Black”.  This is a metal ballad in the classic vein of “Beyond the Realms of Death” or “Remember Tomorrow”.  Tate’s voice cascades while the band weave a backing track of guitar thunder.  Along with “Queen of the Reich”, it still turns up on live setlists.

The live set in Tokyo, recorded in 1984, contains all the tracks from the EP, a non-album song called “Prophecy”, and several from the debut full-length album The Warning.  Opening with the “Nightrider”, Queensryche don’t let up through a generally fast and heavy set.  “Prophecy” keeps up the brisk pace, with a chorus that is miles ahead of “Nightrider”.  And this DeGarmo-penned smoker was a non-album track!  “Deliverance” from The Warning follows in its ashy footsteps.  It’s an onslaught of Warning tracks:  “Child of Fire” and “En Force” rolled out in heavy fashion.  This trio of Warning songs might be considered the slow part of the set.  They have a soundalike vibe as they steamroll the ears.

“The Lady Wore Black” brings a slower, dark atmosphere.  Tate’s sustain is unbelievable!  Then it’s a blast of classics to close the set:  “Warning”, “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Queen of the Reich”.  Magnificent metal through and through, with “Take Hold” being an unequivocal high point.  From Tate’s vocal to the exalted riffing, Queensryche nail it.

Don’t just get the EP.  Make sure to get the 2003 CD reissue with the glorious Tokyo show included.  You’ll be happy you did.

4/5 stars