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First off, this is a good album. Secondly however, it's nothing like the Queensryche seen on earlier material such as 'Rage For Order' and 'Operation: Mindcrime.' Despite being labelled as a progressive metal band, Queensryche has released an album that is much better described as hard rock as opposed to full out metal, and only has a faint smattering of progressive influences. However, if you look past the seemingly commercial feeling this album has for the most part, you'll find an album with an absolutely smashing first side, and a compilation of some great rockers.
Like most commercial albums, there is little focus on the album as a whole, but instead a plight to squeeze out a few really memorable songs. In that respect, 'Empire' certainly acheives it's initial goal. 'Silent Lucidity' is the song that the world outside of progressive music knows Queensryche for. It's one of the most beautiful songs in modern rock, and everything fits in perfectly. Each note is accounted for, and blends in heart melting harmony.
The only real prog-song on here is 'Della Brown' which is a great song, although I'd rather listen to a dose of 'Mindcrime' anyday. Despite the album's feeling of only being a 'group of songs,' there seems to be a common lyrical theme of sorts, about the state of the streets (homelessness, crime, drugs) which is quite profound for hard rock music.
As far as song quality goes, the songs are all very good and memorable, with the exception of 'Resistance,' 'Hand On Heart,' and 'One And Only' which aren't necessarily bad songs persay, but they're utterly forgettable and kiss any chance goodbye this album might have had in terms of 'flow.' The first half of 'Empire' is pristine, though.
'Empire' is not an album for a hardcore metal-roots fan; and some may be very dissapointed by the route Queensryche chose to take with this, but while it's essentially nothing more than hard rock, it's honestly better than 95% of the hard rock that's out there to begin with.