Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Five of Queensryche's Greatest Songs

Certainly, Queensryche is one of the bands that flies under the radar when you talk about heavy metal and hard rock from the 1980s. But the cerebral Seattle quintet shouldn't be overlooked. During their original lineup days (1981-1997), they produced some outstanding albums including Operation Mindcrime, which sold millions of copies. After guitarist/founder Chris DeGarmo left in 1997, the band was never really the same and have since gone through a bitter breakup involving former lead vocalist Geoff Tate and who controls the band's naming rights. But before all that, their catalogue of classic albums like The Warning, Rage for Order and Empire boasted some amazing tracks. Here are five of Queensryche's best songs:

The Whisper (Rage for Order, 1986)

Written by guitarist Chris DeGarmo, "The Whisper" is the epitome of where the band was at recording the Rage for Order album. Geoff Tate's vocals were screaming and soaring, and it features a fantastic groove with drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson firmly in the pocket. The melodies are incredible and the chorus is about as good as it gets. "The Whisper" is definitely one Queensryche's best efforts, and one of their most underrated songs as well.

Take Hold of the Flame (The Warning, 1984)

For teenagers back in the 1980s, "Take Hold of the Flame" was likely their first exposure to Queensryche as the power ballad found some airplay on MTV and MuchMusic in Canada. It was the second single released from the album, backed by a video recorded live from a concert in Tokyo. It's a song, written by Tate and DeGarmo, that showcases Tate's amazing vocal range, as well as the band's ability to write phenomenal melody lines, as evidenced by the verses and the bridge, which is a calling to all angry youth: "Throw down the chains of oppression that bind you, with the air of freedom the flame grows bright. We are the strong, the youth united. We are one, we are children of the light".

Suite Sister Mary (Operation Mindcrime, 1988)

A song that shows how much the band matured when writing for Mindcrime, "Suite Sister Mary" is a 10-minute theatrical opus (or mini rock opera) set to music. Again co-written by Tate and DeGarmo, the track features the fine vocals of Seattle's Pamela Moore as Mary. Overall it's a progressive song with several time changes anchored by the grinding chorus. The religious overtones and choral accompaniment add to the feel of this great song.

The Mission (Operation Mindcrime, 1988)

The only song (with lyrics) not involving Tate's writing, "The Mission" is a DeGarmo contribution. The riff is as groovy as it gets, backed by a solid Jackson baseline that pounds away in the pocket. Tate's vocals here are exceptional as usual, but he seems to add an extra edge that really carries the vocal arrangements, especially after DeGarmo's solo.

Eyes of a Stranger (Operation Mindcrime, 1988)

The most-played song live by Queensryche, "Eyes of a Stranger" closes out the Mindcrime record in sonic style. Written by DeGarmo and Tate, it starts off sounding similar to Pink Floyd's "Empty Spaces" on The Wall, but after 39 seconds, it's classic Queensryche. The three verses all feature different vocal melodies and the chorus is one of their finest. The strings and keyboards add a nice ambiance to the chorus, but they're not so up in the mix as to dominate. "Eyes of a Stranger" features some amazing beats from Rockenfield, arguably the most talented musician in the band.

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