Empire is the fourth full-length album by the American heavy metal band Queensrÿche, released on August 20, 1990. The album reached triple-platinum status and the single extracted, the power ballad “Silent Lucidity”, reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Silent Lucidity” was also nominated for the Grammy Awards of 1992 in the categories Best Rock Song and Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
Peter Collins – producer
James Barton — engineer, mixing
Paul Northfield — engineer on track 6
Tom Hall — engineer on tracks 6, 13
Neil Kernon — engineer on track 13
Marcus Ramaer, Tom Hall, Dan Harjung – assistant engineers
Greenhouse Studios – recording and mixing studio, Vancouver, Canada
Bob Ludwig – mastering at Masterdisk, New York
The year was 1988 and I had about 30 minutes to wait between buses on my way to Peebles to meet my girlfriend’s parents for the first time. What might be the best way to impress them? I know, I’ll run round the corner from the bus station to John Menzies and buy a metal album! I had two choices: Anthrax—Among The Living (1987) and the newly released Operation: Mindcrime (1988) from Queensrÿche.
Well, there was only really one choice, wasn’t there… and it turns out that Among The Living lasted exactly the length of the bus journey from Galashiels to Peebles in the Scottish Borders. I listened to Operation: Mindcrime a few years later and I was really disappointed. I know it’s supposed to be a prog classic concept album and all but… I know, I know <whisper>I still don’t get it</whisper>.
And then this album came out a couple of years later, and I loved it. And four years later they released Promised Land (2004) which is still my favourite Queensrÿche album.
I realised this week while listening to this album back to back that for all these years, in a strange way, I’ve always kind of regarded Queensrÿche as the American—and slightly better—Def Leppard. Although, of course, Queensrÿche are generally a bit more proggy than their Sheffield cousins.
The song writing on this album is superb. How can one album hold so many classics such as “Best I can”, “Jet city woman”, “Empire”, the sublime “Silent lucidity” and the final track “Anybody listening?”? If I could write even one song as good as any of these I would be beside myself.
This is one of those albums that I struggle to find a ‘filler’ track on. “One and only” perhaps. At a push. Probably not. As you were.
It’s hard to fault this album. It’s exquisitely written, beautifully performed, recorded and mixed. I’d forgotten just how much I love this album. I put it on again and again this past week and realised that it felt like a well-worn jumper: warm and comforting, reminding me of my family home in the ’90s, back when my dad was still alive, of hanging out with my brother, jamming on begged, borrowed or stolen guitars in our bedrooms, dreaming of becoming rock stars.
That sentimentality aside, this is a solid album, and one that’s stood the test of the last 23 years. (Is it really that long ago?!) It’s just such a pity that the band itself is in such a mess at the moment, caught up in a bitter feud between Geoff Tate and the rest of the band. Hopefully that can be resolved soon. You hear me Queensrÿche? Is anybody listening?
Review score: 100%