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Few Metal albums have exceeded the limits of the genre, reaching, at the same time, a massive success and a singular high musical quality. This album is a good example of it.
In 1990, two years after surprise both critics and fans with the impressive conceptual album "Operation: Mindcrime", Queensrÿche edited its fourth awaited album. Some time later, "Empire" had sold millions of copies and gained a place in the worldwide music mainstream. Most of this success is related to “Silent lucidity", hit Power Ballad that reached the top of the charts in radio and music TV. Nevertheless, the whole album is a real masterpiece.
Musically, "Empire" turns out to be brilliant. The guitars of Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton combine the classic melodies of Heavy Metal with rhythmic lines full of semitones, hypnotizing arrangements, acoustic passages and expressive solos. The rhythmic section is equally admirable; Eddie Jackson's work in bass is just perfect, achieving a sophisticated atmosphere. Scott Rockenfield’s style in drums was innovative and a key factor in the band’s sound. Finally, Geoff Tate's peculiar and powerful voice, fill with great melodies and modulations every song.
"Empire" includes compositions of diverse styles, from beautiful ballads, to classic Heavy songs, always with the progressive touch of the band. About the lyrics, the album still includes some songs about political and social issues, as in previous materials of the band, but mainly, follows a more intimate line. We can find songs as "Resistance", which speaks about environmental problems and the poor response of the political and economical leaders towards the matter, or "Empire" which speaks about drug trafficking, mafia and violence, referring to some of their social and economic reasons.
Also, there are stories about common people’s issues like in "Best I can", "Della Brown" and "Another rainy night (without you) ", songs full of realism and sensibility. Finally, there are also some love stories, but written in an intelligent and unpretentious way, as "Jet city woman", "Hand on hearth" and "Silent lucidity". In conclusion, if you like Heavy Metal in its more sophisticated and expressive side, "Empire" undoubtedly will catch you. Anyway, I like more “Operation: Mindcrime”, because the conceptual and complex story line, I guess.