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This is when it all began. When this music phenomenon called Queensryche first appeared. Though they never did manage to get to the top of metal music, they became one of the most well-known bands and were always very appreciated by the majority of the fans, at least for the most of their career. Their debut release, back in the distant 1983, was just an EP, made up by four tracks, or should I better say, four diamonds? Is it a coincidence that nowadays, 29 years later, only a few original copies remain in the hands of some wise guys who gain upon the expense of some die-hard fans and their eagerness to obtain this small treasure? How can it be possible that a small EP has built a myth around it, while other great full-length albums of better quality lay lower? It’s a question I never was able to answer.
Many of you, who were old enough at the time, were lucky to feel its affect and now it seems like a sweet memory. But fans like me, just five years old then, can only see it as their prime release and compare it with what they did next. It is true that at first it may sound like nothing more than typical, cliché heavy metal of that era. But if you let yourself feel the power it possesses and the magic it can offer you, it suddenly becomes precious. This EP is the most heavy metal stuff that Queensryche have ever written. Their youthful excitement and enthusiasm along with their endless inspiration that characterized them during the first decade, are offering us a very interesting piece of work.
What you notice from the first moment is that this band seems to have found the perfect chemistry since their playing sounds so firm and tight. The rhythm section is very steady and strong, supporting the already powerful compositions. The credits for this go to bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. My complements! As for the thing that marks more than anything a metal song, the guitars, well they are something else! The guitar duo is made up by two of the best and most skillful guitarists, Chris De Garmo and Michael Wilton. These two do nothing more but let their untamed imagination create beautiful, incredible themes, both melodic and heavy. But, without underestimating the foretold musicians, the main ingredient for this tasteful metal recipe is definitely found in the divine vocals of Geoff Tate. He truly leaves the best impressions with his strong, steady and melodic voice, unfolding his talent, though at a few moments he exaggerates a bit. And just think that he hadn’t yet discovered his real abilities!
As I said earlier on, it is hard to understand that this is their first release and that they have just passed the age of twenty for what they lack in experience they replace it with their passion and energy. And this is clearly shown in the songs, starting with the opener track, the devastating Queen of the Reich. This song has become a trademark for the band and is righteously considered by many, including me, one of their top three moments. The song enters with an explosive guitar riff, fast and heavy and the amazing voice of Tate fills the air. Your heart beats ever faster following the pace of the pounding drum rhythm as we approach the middle of the song and the awesome guitar solo! This song is absolutely breath-taking!
Nightrider is the song that comes next. Its first minute passes quite slowly but suddenly it blasts-off and turns into a metal killer. It features, yet again, fast guitars and a galloping pace but it has a nice break in rhythm at the chorus, quite interesting. As in almost all songs, one may notice clearly the influences by Iron Maiden, processed through the Queensryche filter, thus remaining pleasant and not irritating.
The “worst” song of the EP is probably the next in line by the title Blinded. But how can you describe as bad a song with such an excellent feeling and atmosphere? You simply can’t. It’s just that it is a bit not as perfect as the rest of the compositions and that places it at the bottom of the list. Still, it is very good, worthy of being in such a release that approaches perfection.
Last but definitely not least is another all-time classic ‘Ryche song, the one and only The Lady Wore Black. Half a ballad, half a metal monster, this atmospheric power metal monument possesses a place in all metal fans. The tremendous, numerous breaks create a fantastic atmosphere diverting from serenity to madness. Wilton and DE Garmo deliver some super fine guitar riffs while Tate makes a demonstration of metallic vocal abilities. It is a song of a special kind. You know, the ones that make you wanna go back in time, when metal was still pure and not filled with the bastard offsprings of today. The hell with them!
The Queensryche EP is doomed to remain an everlasting monument in metal. It roused many expectations for this American power metal band with the right-in-your-face heavy metal feeling and songs. Too bad for Queensryche that failed to see what was the best for them. By far, their greatest release.