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Empire, according to a lot of Queensrÿche fans one of the best albums in their career. “One of the best metal albums ever.” I guess they have a different Empire than I have. The music on this album is more commercial pop-rock than progressive metal, or anything decent. Happy glam synthesizers, typical poppy choir vocals, cheesy ‘goodwill’ lyrics, Empire has got it all! Luckily, there is also good stuff on this album. This was my second Queensrÿche album, the first was Operation: Mindcrime, and after hearing Empire, I almost gave up on buying more Rÿche music. I was glad that I didn’t, since other albums are all better.
As we are welcomed into the album by a happy piano-tune, followed by a decent guitar riff, spoiled by the awful synths, we take a quick look at the track list, which tells us we are listening to “Best I Can”. Apparently, the lyrics are about a boy who is in a wheelchair and still tries the best he can. How touching. That indeed will sell and crawl up the charts. The song is decent, but nothing more. “The Thin Line” has an okay-ish guitar riff, again spoiled by the arrangements. This time the rest of the song is quite a nuisance as well. “Jet City Woman” is more of the same, yet is a lot more pleasant to hear, although it’s still just a pop song with wannabe-metal arrangements. The seven minute abomination “Della Brown” will make you fall asleep. The stupid poppy beat that continues along all the song with the lame chorus contains some of the worst nineties pop tunes ever. The only good thing about that song is the inspiring guitar solo.
Getting tired of my negativity? I am. Therefore, it’s time to look at a brighter side of the album. “Another Rainy Night” and “Empire” are two amazing tracks. Trademark Queensrÿche as we all love it. The first of the two might sound a little bit poppy as well, but has stunning guitar-oriented arrangements, while the latter has the best guitar riff on the album.
Then I will skip all the other terrible songs, for the sake of the Rÿche. “Silent Lucidity” will come to your attention immediately. The mellow acoustic guitars playing a poppy, catchy tune combined with the lower register of Tate’s vocals does not actually sound bad, yet the song totally does not fit on the album. We all know that around this time Tate’s voice is starting to change, and that results in weird contrast among the songs. Especially in “Silent Lucidity”, which apparently is the bands biggest hit. Well, the song is okay, but certainly not that great.
Ah... “Anybody’s Listening?” is the album closer, and is definitely worth a listen. You might say it’s “the classic Rÿche closing ballad”. This power ballad starts out very gentle, but bit by bit it gains more “weight”, in terms of speaking. This is the song that reminds you that you were listening to Queensrÿche, and not some half-assed Bon Jovi wannabes, which gives the bad part of the album an even worse title.
To come to the conclusion, Empire pretty well sucks. At least, if you don’t like a metal band going commercial, like me. With only three songs worth listening, I might as well say this album is the worst in the Queensrÿche history. Yes, even worse than Q2k.
I will never recommend this album to anyone. It almost made me abandon Queensrÿche, and that would be the most foolish thing to do. They have made better stuff than this.
A waste of money.
Strongest... I mean, the only strong songs: Another Rainy Night, Empire and Anybody’s Listening?