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Dear God, how the mighty have fallen. In recent years, Queensryche have been best known for putting out some really shitty albums, to the point where hearing that Geoff Tate had been fired from the band might have been the best news since... ever. Horrible cabaret shows, all around terrible music, and downright turning your back on metal. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about a change in style. Some bands need to try new things and evolve, but I’d probably even defend “Lulu” over the piece of shit “American Soldier.” Ok, maybe not. Regardless, despite the fact that Queensryche’s recent efforts have ranged from sub-par to terrible, and their fan base pretty split, there was time this was a phenomenal power metal group, and despite only being four songs, this short EP may honestly be one of the greatest chunks of US power metal ever.
The album opens with Queen of the Reich, a fast paced track which features Geoff Tate’s amazing vocals wailing over the band. Truly once Geoff Tate had a voice that could hold its own amongst the best in metal, and while not world-changing and showing a little Iron Maiden-gallop influence, Chris DeGarmo absolutely had some great talent. The solo on this song is very speedy, and fits in with the tune very well. This is a time when Queensryche knew not only how to write a goddamn song, but perform one as well. And a metal song at that. It’s unfortunate they’ve fallen from being poised for greatness to being a shitty cabaret rock act.
The Nightrider features a mid paced, or maybe even doomy, series of riffs at the beginning, going into a near speed metal power song. Again, Geoff’s voice impresses us to the point that we should question maybe it was he, and not Paul McCartney, who died in a car accident and was replaced by an actor/clone/aliens (that’s a thing, some something and Google that shit). The song slows down for the beginning of the solo, going back to the intro riff after a bit, all the while an incredibly solo from DeGarmo, before Geoff informs us to beware of the night.
Blinded may be the weak track on here, although at this point a weak Queensryche track was still powerful, like a mighty kick to the testicles. It’s not quite as fast as the previous two, but still above mid paced, and the chorus is quick and catchy, even though I have no fucking idea what he’s saying from the vocal layering. Something about voices calling. The end is just.. strange. But at 3 minutes the song clocks in as the shortest on the disc, and really, it’s pretty good overall.
The. Lady. Wore. Black. Who the hell wrote this. Clearly not Geoff Tate, the asshole responsible for American Soldier could never write this. DeGarmo? If so, why the hell has he resigned himself to flying planes in Seattle. Possibly one of my favorite Power Metal ballads.
And that’s it. Some versions include a bonus track, Prophecy, which I believe is actually an outtake from “The Warning,” and some include a bonus Live show. Which is fine. I own the version with “Prophecy,” I think it fits better on “The Warning” but it’s a fine addition, and the live show is fine. But as far as the main attraction, these four songs are among the best the band composed, which is not at all a bad benchmark, or me cutting down on anything they did after. Well. Until “Empire.” Things sort of fell apart after “Empire.” But at least we have those first five releases. And hey, without Tate, who knows what direction this band could take… no high hopes though.