QUEEN — Sheer Heart Attack (review)

QUEEN — Sheer Heart Attack album cover Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
AtomicCrimsonRush
'Sheer Heart Attack' by Queen is bombastic, epic rock with killer tracks and inventive song writng

The amusement park intro sets the mood as 'Magic fills the air'; the unmistakeable sound of Queen, the vocal range and piano of Freddie Mercury, Brian May's singing guitar, Roger Taylor's percussive rhythm and John Deacon's pulsating bass.

The opening track, 'Brighton Rock', is a blazing rocker that has some very progressive sections, the best being the lead break with frenetic riffing and one of the best solos May has accomplished.

'Killer Queen' is the well known single that every Queen addict knows. You have to love those trademark harmonies on the chorus. 'Tenement Funster' is a sleeper that has grown on me with a very strong melody, infectious groove and searing lead break. The time sigs change very quickly and this is a real prog song in every respect.

It merges seamlessly into the bizarre 'Flick of the Wrist'. This is another excellent track that chugs along nicely and features some electrifying guitar and inspired riffing. 'Lily of the Valley' is thankfully short as I was never a fan of Mercury's ballads, though he sings beautifully on this and it feels like part of an epic. At under 2 minutes it is sufficient as a transition point to the next great track.

'Now I'm Here' has become quite a crowd pleaser on a live stage. It has a myriad of twists and turns in the music. At the end there is a very strong riff that sounds similar to Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'.

'In the Lap of the Gods' begins with a majestic bombastic mass of harmonies and then a phased Mercury, mocking himself, croons a silly verse until that chorus chimes in: 'leave it in the lap of the gods...' 'Stone Cold Crazy' is a 2:12 intro to what would become heavy Metal. Metallica reinvented the track on their 'Garage Days' album, and why not, it is one of the first thrashing riff with fast paced vocals. Deep Purple were certainly influences but you have to love the riffing here, and a killer lead break showcase May's inimitable talents. You can almost hear Kirk Hammett licking his lips listening to this. 'Dear Friends' is a ballad. I don't like it. It is short but corny. 'Misfire' is another track under 2 minutes, and it is interesting how these short tracks appear on this album as little tasters of what Queen were producing in the 70s. I like the melody and rhythm on this and do not consider this a misfire at all. Deacon is the master behind this and it is a nice change on pace.

'Bring Back That Leroy Brown' is a short and quirky Jim Croce homage, with banjo and barber shop quartet like vocals, and a smidgen of double bass, and Andrews Sisters lyrical style. Funnier than ELP's 'Are You ready Eddy?'

'She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettoes)' is a very catchy acoustically driven song. The rhythm is strong and the vocals and harmonies are almost psychedelic 60s inspired. The song is not an account of Darth Vader's soldiers in white parading about in high heels, it is actually about a strange affair of a man in drag. I like the ending with the gun shot effects and the sound is strange and features a drone and atonal delivery that does not quite sound right, giving it a mystical edge. 'In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited' is a book ending track to finish the album on a familiar note, the return of the melody heard earlier, although this version is more anthemic; you can virtually see the crowd holding lighters up in the air swaying in time. And so ends an impressive album.

I was delighted to hear this again for this review and it reminded me that this is definitely one of the heaviest and most consistent Queen albums in their repertoire. The album finishes on an explosion signifying that the doors of mainstream rock were blown off their hinges.

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