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QUEENSRŸCHE - Empire cover
3.57 | 80 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 1990


1. Best I Can (5:34)
2. The Thin Line (5:42)
3. Jet City Woman (5:22)
4. Della Brown (7:03)
5. Another Rainy Night (Without You) (4:29)
6. Empire (5:24)
7. Resistance (4:50)
8. Silent Lucidity (5:47)
9. Hand On Heart (5:33)
10. One And Only (5:54)
11. Anybody Listening? (7:41)

Total Time 63:23


- Geoff Tate / vocals, keyboards
- Chris DeGarmo / guitars, keyboards, background vocals
- Michael Wilton / guitars
- Eddie Jackson / basses, background vocals
- Scott Rockenfield / drums, percussion

About this release

Release date: August 20, 1990
Label: EMI Records USA

Reissued in 2003 with the following bonus tracks:

12. Last Time In Paris (3:52)
13. Scarborough Fair (Simon And Garfunkel cover) (3:51)
14. Dirty Lil Secret (4:07)

Reissued as 20th Anniversary Edition with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

Live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, England on November 15, 1990:

1. Resistance (4:33)
2. Walk In The Shadows (3:56)
3. Best I Can (5:16)
4. Empire (5:11)
5. The Thin Line (5:43)
6. Jet City Woman (5:30)
7. Roads To Madness (9:32)
8. Silent Lucidity (5:43)
9. Hand On Heart (5:17)
10. Take Hold Of The Flame (5:10)

Total Time 55:41

Thanks to negoba, J-Man, colt, Lynx33, Unitron, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Empire" is the 4th full-length studio album by US power/heavy/progressive metal act Queensrÿche. The album was released through EMI Records in August 1990. It´s Queensrÿche´s most commercially successful release selling 3 million copies (triple Platinum status in those days) and spawning a top 10 Billboard charts hit in "Silent Lucidity". While "Operation: Mindcrime (1988)" was the band´s big breakthrough on the heavy metal scene, "Empire" was their mainstream breakthrough...

...and listening to the album it´s obvious why that is. "Silent Lucidity" is a Pink Floyd influenced power ballad, which resonated well with hard rock audiences in the early 90s, but the rest of the material on the album are also predominantly mainstream oriented heavy rock/metal tracks, which could easily have been played on the radio. Tracks like "Jet City Woman", "Another Rainy Night (Without You)", and "Hand On Heart", are almost ridiculously catchy and obviously aimed at the most heavy rock loving AOR audience. Queensrÿche flirt a little with progressive ideas on "Best I Can" and on "Anybody Listening?", but it´s only an influence and not a dominant trait on the album. Compared to the slightly more hard edged and dark themed predecessor, "Empire" is generally a more light-hearted release, and the only track on the album with a really dark atmosphere and heavy riffs is the title track. Not that tracks like "The Thin Line" and "Della Brown" doesn´t feature serious lyrical subjects and darker moods, but overall "Empire" is a fairly accessible release with a focus on "regular" vers/chorus structures and quite a few lyrics dealing with love and romance.

It´s a polished release with a pretty sterile and clear sounding production, courtesy of Peter Collins, who also produced "Operation: Mindcrime (1988)". The album could have prospered from just a slight organic touch, but it is still arguably a well produced release. As always the musicianship are on a high level on all posts. A tight playing rhythm section, plenty of great guitar work, and a well singing Geoff Tate in front.

Featuring 11 tracks and a full playing time of 63:23 minutes, "Empire" ends up feeling a bit too long for its own good. Many of the tracks feature similar structures and compositional ideas, and not enough of them stand out as particularly remarkable although there of course are some standout tracks like "Silent Lucidity", the title track, "Della Brown", "Best I Can", and "Jet City Woman" (damn that is one catchy chorus). So upon conclusion af 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong.
siLLy puPPy
Gaining huge popularity with the success of OPERATION: MINDCRIME that actually spawned a few MTV hits, I guess it was inevitable that the scope of that project burned them out and QUEENSRYCHE decided to make a light and less complex follow-up to their intense rock opera. Overall it's less impressive on every level. There is no unified theme or concept. Geoff Tate's vocals have less range and passion. The songs are a mixed bag with some being much more interesting than others. Chris DeGarmo was the man behind this album and he steered the mighty musical vessel firmly into the Billboard charts with catchy less progressive tunes that MTV played to death. They even scored a top 10 hit with “Silent Lucidity.”

This is one of those albums that I don't love but have to admit that I do like many tracks. If some of the filler was trimmed off it might actually be an excellent album albeit inferior to the previous releases. I'm particularly fond of “The Thin Line,” “Resistance,” “Hand On Heart,” “Anybody Listening?” and the title track. The rest is actually ok but pretty weak if you think of QUEENSRYCHE as even remotely progressive metal. I haven't listened to this in quite some and it brings back memories of the 90s and all and serves that purpose but if I have to rate this on the music alone and trying to judge its merit on a timeless basis then I just don't think this release qualifies to be overly praised, however they do succeed in keeping this album just interesting enough that I wouldn't want to throw it out of my collection either.
Empire was the fourth full-length studio album from the Seattle based Progressive Metal band Queensrÿche. It followed up the classic concept album Operation:Mindcrime and caught the zeitgeist of the time, becoming the band’s best-selling album to date.

While Operation:Mindcrime was an artistic highlight for the band and gained them a larger public awareness than they’d previously enjoyed, it seemed as though with its follow up Queensrÿche wanted to deliver some of the same powerful yet accessible, complex yet catchy Metal but without the constraints of the concept. They wanted every song to work individually and not just as one part of a whole that doesn’t always work out of context.

They also didn’t want to be specifically just a Prog band or just a Metal band anymore, they wanted to concentrate on songwriting and make every track as if it was a hit single.

For most people, Empire achieved exactly that. Buoyed by a trilogy of big singles in the form of the socially aware Title Track, the emotional ‘Jet City Woman’ and the superb ballad ‘Silent Lucidity,’ Empire was not only a hit among a legion of new fair-weather fans, but a success with the core fan base too, and now it is looked back on as a classic, almost as much as Operation:Mindcrime. If like me you weren’t there at the time and only heard of the band in recent years, it is a great record to get into even now, and stands the test of time really well.

There are some fans who disagree however and sometimes Empire gets painted as being a massive departure and slated for not sounding enough like what came before it, it can be seen as either (or both) a selling-out or an over-simplification if you got into the band through the channels of either a love of early Metal or a love of Prog more than just a love of Queensrÿche themselves.

For many fans however, there is more than enough similarity with the previous albums to be heard. Although there is nothing as straight forwardly Metal as ‘The Needle Lies,’ ‘Surgical Strike,’ ‘En Force’ or ‘Queen Of The Reich’ from their previous releases, Empire still fits in with the band’s overall sound rather well.

Tracks like ‘Della Brown’ and ‘Silent Lucidity’ fit with the band’s previous takes on balladry, such as ‘I Will Remember’ and ‘I Only Dream In Infrared,’ and also the synthy but dark and slightly proggy ‘The Thin Line’ fits in with things like ‘London’ and ‘Suite Sister Mary.’ The pre-chorus of ‘Jet City Woman’ is even a little reminiscent of ‘Take Hold Of The Flame’ after a fashion.

The band do undoubtedly push things in a more commercial direction on this album, but they still do things in a bit more of a complex and impressive way than most other commercial MTV Rock/Metal albums of the time and there are enough distorted riffs and lead guitar still there to keep most fans happy. It pretty much nails the balance between retaining what make Queensrÿche good and delivering big, bright and catchy, commercial rock music.

If you ignore musical-style altogether however, this is plain and simple a collection of very good songs. The musicianship is excellent, Geoff’s vocals are inspired and the lyrics are for the most part intelligent and interesting. There’s lots of little spidery riffs and vocal lines that will get stuck in your head, and most of the tracks can enliven any compilation or live set.

Overall, Empire is a great album and even if wasn’t what you wanted from the band in terms of musical-direction, it is a fine achievement purely in terms of songwriting and performance. This is one of the band’s biggest albums for a reason and the three big singles alone are reason enough to explore the album, never mind things like ‘Best I Can’ and ‘Resistance.’ If you are interested in Queensrÿche this is a must-listen album.
Time Signature
Anybody listening? I think so...

Genre: progressive metal

The follow-up to "Operation: Mindcrime", "Empire" does not falter in the shade of its predecessor, as it teems with catchy and intelligent hard rock tunes.

This is probably my favorite Queensrÿche album, because it is sophisticated and thought-provoking while at the same time very catchy and accessible. While, Queensrÿche tend to constantly redefine themselves, "Empire" pretty much picks up stylistically where "Operation: Mindcrime" left off. There are plenty of captivating uplifting hardrock and metal riffs on this release, and, like on "Operation: Mindcrime", Geoff Tate makes effective use of his impressive vocal register (just check out 'The Thin Line'). The rhythm section is rock solid, and Scott Rockenfield shows that you do not have to be hyper technical to make things work in progressive metal - he does a superb job on this release.

Like on "Operation: Mindcrime", there are no weak tracks on this album, and it is no secret that some of my all time favorite rock tracks are found on "Empire", such as the title track, 'Best I Can', 'The Thin Line', 'Jet City Woman', 'Another Rainy Night (Without You)', and 'Anybody Listening?'.

One of the finest prog metal releases around, this should appeal to fans of both sophisticated and progressive music as well as to those who prefer more accessible rock music.
Conor Fynes
'Empire' - Queensryche (6/10)

First off, this is a good album. Secondly however, it's nothing like the Queensryche seen on earlier material such as 'Rage For Order' and 'Operation: Mindcrime.' Despite being labelled as a progressive metal band, Queensryche has released an album that is much better described as hard rock as opposed to full out metal, and only has a faint smattering of progressive influences. However, if you look past the seemingly commercial feeling this album has for the most part, you'll find an album with an absolutely smashing first side, and a compilation of some great rockers. Like most commercial albums, there is little focus on the album as a whole, but instead a plight to squeeze out a few really memorable songs. In that respect, 'Empire' certainly acheives it's initial goal. 'Silent Lucidity' is the song that the world outside of progressive music knows Queensryche for. It's one of the most beautiful songs in modern rock, and everything fits in perfectly. Each note is accounted for, and blends in heart melting harmony.

The only real prog-song on here is 'Della Brown' which is a great song, although I'd rather listen to a dose of 'Mindcrime' anyday. Despite the album's feeling of only being a 'group of songs,' there seems to be a common lyrical theme of sorts, about the state of the streets (homelessness, crime, drugs) which is quite profound for hard rock music.

As far as song quality goes, the songs are all very good and memorable, with the exception of 'Resistance,' 'Hand On Heart,' and 'One And Only' which aren't necessarily bad songs persay, but they're utterly forgettable and kiss any chance goodbye this album might have had in terms of 'flow.' The first half of 'Empire' is pristine, though.

'Empire' is not an album for a hardcore metal-roots fan; and some may be very dissapointed by the route Queensryche chose to take with this, but while it's essentially nothing more than hard rock, it's honestly better than 95% of the hard rock that's out there to begin with. Four stars.
“Empire” is a solid Queensryche album with some of their best material. The metal is subdued and not as aggressive as other albums but Tate’s vocals are up to scratch and powerful at times, and he knows how to belt out a soft metal ballad such as Another Rainy Night (Without You). The Band are united on this and some great killer riffs are present such as Best I Can and Jet City Woman. Silent Lucidity is quite a popular Queensryche song and has an infectious hook in the chorus. The lead breaks are soaring and well executed. One and Only is a powerful track with great lyrics and Anybody Listening? Is emotionally driven and melodic choruses drive the album to a close. This is not the best QR album of course as that honour belongs to “Operation Mindcrime” but I like “Empire” as a relaxing way to spend an evening with some metal edge and powerful vocals. 3 stars.
After "Mindcrime", Queensryche is trying to grab a wider audience by incorporating a thick commercial breeze in their music, displayed in "Empire" which was released in the third quarter of 1990. "Silent Lucidity" propelled their name to the sky after securing a respectable position on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and Billboard Hot 100 and gave them a triple platinum sales. If you read most of the reviews, everybody seemed to praise this album highly, and even some cited this as their best release, but after repeat listens, I found that this is one of the highly overrated release. Queensryche is one of those half breed metal band that combine the classic heavy metal approach with progressive element and it's a dangerous pick because to succeed, you have to please both fans, but with "Empire", Queensryche failed me on both aspects.

Songs like "Best I Can" and "Jet City Woman" that was considered among their strongest tracks are totally decent and nothing spectacular. "The Thin Line" and "Della Brown" even worst, you can hardly find any heavy metal or prog trace on those songs. Ironically, best picks came from their ballads, "Silent" and "Another Rainy Night" which supposed to be a crime for a metal band. "Hand on Heart" and "Anybody Listening?" are also good tracks but the rest are just plain dull and uninspiring. This album is definitely only for collectors or diehards because if you're a casual fans, I'd recommend to pick "Sign of The Times : The Best of" straight away which contained this album's essential songs.
Queensryche was perhaps my favorite band when this album came out and I bought it at midnight when it was released. I listened to it too many times to count and even liked it to a certain degree. To be sure it was not the brilliance of Mindcrime, but it was well produced, coherent piece of work. It has the very derivative and huge hit "Silent Lucidity" which everyone and his brothier (including me) learned to play on guitar, it has "Della Brown" which harkened back, weakly, to the drama of previous rainy slow burners like "Lady Wore Black" or even "Suite Sister Mary." It was not the best of Queensryche's work, but it was the breakthrough album that allowed a headlining tour that included Mindcrime in its entirety.

Despite that, it is probably the weakest of the albums that are worth owning (s/t EP through Promised Land). Tate's vocals are strong, the guitar work is good, but there's very little risk or adventure. The follow up album, Promised Land continues with the polish, but takes more chances and offers more rewards.

All that said, this is an enjoyable album to listen to. All of the songs are good, the production and sound are strong. Perfect example of a 3-star album.

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