Albums & Video Releases
Quick Links: The Warning | Live in Tokyo | Rage for Order | Operation: Mindcrime | Video Mindcrime | Empire | Operation: LIVEcrime | Building Empires | Promised Land PL CD-Rom | Hear in the Now Frontier | Tribe | Compilations | Tribute Albums
Editor’s Note: Queensryche’s first seven studio releases were remastered and re-released with bonus content in 2003. The extra tracks vary from live cuts to b-sides. I’ve chosen NOT to include them here for brevity’s sake. It should be noted, however, that many audiophiles complained about the remastered CDs and newly re-released LPs, believing them to be “redlined” and unlistenable at higher volumes.
I’ll continue to supplement this section (as all portions of the site) with additional content as I have time, including CD singles and various promotional releases. All songwriting credits noted after each track are listed in alphabetical order.
Release Date: 1982 (206 Records)/1983 (EMI Records)
Engineer: Tom Hall
Queen of the Reich -- (Chris DeGarmo)
* -- Prophecy wasn’t included on the original 206 Records independent release.
Key tracks: Queen of the Reich, The Lady Wore Black
Notes: The EP was very influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, including Judas Priest and early Iron Maiden. The opening wail by Tate is very reminiscent of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian in “Highway Star.” The EP was recorded at the now-closed Triad Studios, located in Redmond, Wash. The EP was originally released as a four-track LP on Queensryche's own 206 Records independent label. Once signed to EMI Records, the company subsequently re-released it in 1983, followed by a CD release in 1988 with "Prophecy" added to it.
Title: The Warning
Warning -- (Tate/Wilton)
Key Tracks: NM 156, Roads to Madness, Take Hold of the Flame
Notes: The Warning was the first full band collaboration between vocalist Geoff Tate and the rest of the group. Tate’s more art rock leanings meshed with the heavy metal influences of the band to create its own subgenre of intelligent rock music labeled “progressive heavy metal.” Cuts such as "NM 156" and "Roads to Madness" illustrate the blend well, featuring tempo and mood changes. The lyrics are inspired by the scare of nuclear war, and what society would be like in the event of such devastation.
The album also marked the band's first collaboration with the late composer Michael Kamen, who would do orchestral arrangements on The Warning and many songs in Queensryche's future, including "Silent Lucidity."
Interesting fact: The tracklist above was not approved of by the band. The original running order featured “NM 156” as the lead track, with “Warning” preceding “Roads to Madness.” The latter song ends on the same sound effect/note as "NM 156" begins with, giving the record a circular presentation.
In addition, "Deliverance" and "No Sanctuary" were flip-flopped, so the latter track was #3 on the record, and "Deliverance" was placed right before "Take Hold of the Flame." The record was remixed and the tracks re-arranged by Val Garay at the behest of EMI Records who wanted the first single -- “Warning” -- to be the album’s opening cut. The originally approved version with the original mix and track order now only exists on the band’s personal demo cassettes, according to Michael Wilton (see image).
Title: Live in Tokyo
Notes: This was Queensryche’s first live release. Issued on VHS and Beta. In 2003, the tracks were released on CD and MP3 format on the remastered version of the Queensryche EP. The songs were recorded on Aug. 5, 1984, at Nippon Seinekan, in Tokyo, Japan.
Title: Rage for Order
Walk in the Shadows -- (DeGarmo/Tate/Wilton)
Key Tracks: Screaming in Digital, Neue Regel, Walk in the Shadows
Notes: Rage for Order expanded upon the progressive elements of The Warning, featuring more keyboards, even more tempo changes, and a colder sonic approach to the songs. Considered "ahead of its time" upon release, Rage is credited among many metal fans as one of the defining albums of the progressive heavy metal subgenre, influencing a range of hard rock, goth and industrial musicians.
The record was also notable for its complex lyrics. Rage for Order has a three-tiered lyrical motif with songs that interconnect on personal, political and technological themes. Producer Neil Kernon also plays keyboards on a few tracks, including "Screaming in Digital."
Interesting fact: Rage for Order had three additional tracks that were demoed by the band, but never released. They are: "Rage for Order," "From the Darkside" and "The Dream." The title track of the album was re-worked into what would become "Anarchy-X" on Operation: Mindcrime. But the original version of "Rage for Order," had a speaking/psuedo-rapping vocal to it.
Title: Operation: Mindcrime
I Remember Now -- (DeGarmo/Tate/Wilton)
Key Tracks: Eyes of a Stranger, Revolution Calling, The Mission.
Notes: While Queensryche dabbled with themes on its previous two studio records, Operation: Mindcrime took it a step further, following in the footsteps of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy as a full-on concept album. A tale of revolution, drug addiction and manipulation, for years fans debated the album's story.
From a musical standpoint, Operation: Mindcrime is likely the quintessential example of the trade-off and harmonized guitar work of DeGarmo and Wilton. It showcases their different lead-playing styles and the ability to play complex chords that mesh into a bigger, grander sound. Generally speaking, critics and fans refer to Operation: Mindcrime as Queensryche’s finest work and one of the best and most influential concept albums ever recorded.
Interesting fact: Wilton came up with the lyrics for the chorus of "Speak." -- "Speak the word. The word is all of us."
Title: Video: Mindcrime
I Remember Now
Approximate running time of 40 minutes.
Notes: After the success of the "Eyes of a Stranger" video on MTV, Queensryche had a choice to make. They could pour money into doing one more video and promotional campaign for a song, or they could shoot a series of videos connecting the Operation: Mindcrime concept and release it for sale. The band opted for the latter. As a bonus, there's an alternate version of "I Don't Believe in Love" that plays after the home video's credits that reveals just what happened to Sister Mary...
Best I Can -- (DeGarmo)
B-sides: Scarborough Faire, Real World (appears on soundtrack for Last Action Hero), Last Time in Paris (appears on soundtrack for Ford Fairlaine)
Key Tracks: Empire, Anybody Listening?, Jet City Woman
Notes: Empire began Queensryche’s foray into a simpler songwriting approach. As explained by DeGarmo, the band took a critical look at what they were writing to ensure that it could be reproduced by a simple vocal and guitar accompaniment, and if the song didn’t work with just that, it needed to be re-evaluated. The shift resulted in Queensryche’s most commercially-successful record, with Empire selling over 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.
The guitar tones on Empire are noticeably warmer than Operation: Mindcrime – a change that was very much by design. And unlike previous records, Empire isn’t based on a lyrical theme. The songs were designed to be standalone cuts. Sonically, Empire was very much touted for its production and was used widely by engineers over the years to judge the sound of particular recording locations.
Interesting fact: "Last Time in Paris" and "The Thin Line" were offered to the creators of Ford Fairlaine for the movie's soundtrack. The former was chosen because "The Thin Line" was a little "dark" according to DeGarmo.
Title: Operation: LIVEcrime
I Remember Now
* - bonus track added to the 2001 remastered versions of Operation: LIVEcrime. Audio-only, songs appear as audio tracks on the DVD as well.
Notes: Operation: LIVEcrime was originally released on Nov. 5, 1991 as a box set documenting Queensryche's complete performance of Operation: Mindcrime on its tour in support of Empire. The recordings were taken from three shows: May 10, 1991 - Madison, Wis.; May 11, 1991 - Milwaukee, Wis.; and May 12, 1991 - LaCrosse, Wis. The original release contained a VHS and either a cassette or CD. The box set also featured a 44-page libretto. Operation: LIVEcrime was subsequently remastered and released on DVD in 2001. The re-release did not include the libretto.
Interesting fact: In interviews following the release of Operation: LIVEcrime, the members of Queensryche stated that there were only two mistakes made by the band over the three-nights they recorded: Tate flubbed the lyrics once, and Wilton broke a string. Otherwise, any of the three nights could have been released outright in its entirety.
Title: Building Empires
Notes: Following Queensryche's critically acclaimed world tour in support of Empire, they compiled all the videos shot for the record, along with live footage and various other videos and performances in a compilation to tide fans over until the next record. Building Empires has an approximate running time of 100 minutes, which includes commentary by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton.
Title: Promised Land
9:28 a.m. -- (Rockenfield)
Key Tracks: Damaged, Promised Land, Bridge
B-sides: Real World (released as a standalone single in 1993), Dirty Lil Secret, Someone Else (full band)
Notes: Released over four years after Empire, Promised Land went the exact opposite direction most fans expected from Queensryche. Instead of building on the previous record's warmer, melodic hard rock sound, Promised Land took a more acoustic and simplistic approach instrumentally. Cuts such as "Bridge," "Out of Mind," and "Someone Else?" provide a moody atmosphere, while rocking tracks like the first single, "I Am I," "Damaged," and "My Global Mind" balance the record out.
Lyrically, Promised Land is a dark, introspective look into the psyches of DeGarmo and Tate. Theh former's lyrics take a look at issues such as loss and mental instability, while the latter concentrated on self-doubt and the disappointments in the wake of reaching the pinnacle of success.
While Promised Land sold over one million copies in the U.S., and is considered by fans to be one of Queensryche's landmark albums, it was a commercial flop for EMI Records. Videos were shot for "I Am I," "Bridge" and "Dis-con-nec-ted," but the songs were rarely played on MTV, as the network turned its focused to grunge-era bands from Seattle, such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Interesting facts: During the recording of "Promised Land" (the title track), Tate couldn't quite capture the emotion in the song Jimbo Barton was looking for. The two went out drinking, Tate got hammered, came back to the studio, and nailed the vocal in one take. In a conversation with a friend of mine years ago, he also warned to never listen to the song while in a depressed state, alluding to the dangers of suicide.
The tri-ryche totem pole depicted on the cover of Promised Land was created by Harold Alfred, an artist from Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Title: Promised Land CD-ROM
Notes: The Promised Land CD-ROM was a video game released by Queensryche in 1996. The game takes players through the minds (worlds) of all five band members, in search of pieces of a Promised Land totem pole. During the game, users encounter riddles and tasks that must be solved and are greeted by the band membes throughout game play. In addition, snippets of the recording process of Promised Land are shown, which when put together, create a nice "making of" segment on the record for fans.
Once the game is complete (or if fans find the video file in the game's directory), the player is rewarded with an exclusive acoustic song titled "Two Mile High." The Promised Land CD-ROM took approximately two years to create, and is loosely based on the concept and game play of MYST, which was released in 1993.
Title: Hear in the Now Frontier
Sign of the Times -- (DeGarmo)
Key Tracks: spOOL, The Voice Inside, Sign of the Times
B-sides: Chasing Blue Sky -- (Rockenfield/Tate), Tomorrow Begins Today (demo written by Wilton, never recorded)
Additional performers: Matt Rollings and Steven Nathan -- Mini Moog, Roland JD 900 and D50 keyboards on "spOOL." Rollings also performed the piano on "All I Want."
Notes: Hear in the Now Frontier continued Queensryche's experimentation with simpler song structures. The band went with more of a spontaneous approach, writing a tune and recording it fairly soon after, instead of making countless demos and refining the songs. The "less polished" approach was also combined with a noticeably drier mix and production values -- an attempt to sound more raw instead of Queensryche's traditional "grandiose" presentation.
The album launched with some early success on the strength of its first single -- "Sign of the Times." The tune received a good amount of radio play, as did the second single, "You." But as EMI Records folded, so did the radio support. Hear in the Now Frontier dropped like a rock on the charts, ultimately only selling about 325,000 copies in the U.S. (to-date). Two other songs -- "The Voice Inside" and "spOOL" were prepped as promotional singles, but never made traction on radio.
Fans were divided about Hear in the Now Frontier. The general consensus was that Queensryche's "stripped down" approach went too far, removing essential elements that made the band distinct. Although some songs (typically the singles and a couple of others) are widely praised, most fans believe Hear in the Now Frontier has an abundance of "filler" tracks that should have been left as demos.
Interesting facts: The sound effect of someone taking a picture at the end of "Get a Life" was misplaced. It was supposed to be at the beginning of the song. In addition, the ending violin part on "Sign of the Times" by David Ragsdale of Kansas was originally supposed to be accompanied by a final lyric -- "See it all burning to the ground." Geoff Tate explained the violin and lyric part of "Sign of the Times" to a South American reporter in Dec. 1997:
Tate: "Originally there was a lyric that ended the song. It was “see it all burning to the ground.” The song is talking about how the level of decadence in our country, America, has risen to an extreme. So we thought, “see it all burning to the ground,” and we were reminded of the story of Nero, who was emperor of Rome and he palyed a violin supossededly while Rome burned, and we thought a violin would sound great. So we brought in a violin. But then, after we put in the violin, we decided not to include the lyric line."
Open -- (DeGarmo/Tate/Wilton)
Key Tracks: The Art of Life, Desert Dance
* -- Because the entirety of Tribe did not feature the complete original lineup of Queensryche, we’ve spotlighted only the tracks from the record that had all five original members of the band involved in the writing and/or recording. Completists can look up the entire CD online, but for those only interested in checking out tracks by the full original lineup, simply download the above cuts from your digital source of choice.
** -- “Justified” was written and partially recorded during the Tribe sessions before Chris re-departed the band. It wasn’t finished being recorded until 2007, and it appears on the deluxe edition of a multi-lineup greatest hits packaged titled Sign of the Times – The Best of Queensryche. "Justified" was mixed by Terry Date.
Notes: Tribe wasn't an easy record to make. Initially, Jackson, Rockenfield and Wilton began writing the music themselves. As they fleshed out songs, Tate allegedly disapproved of the overall direction and started seeking input from outside writers, including his members of his solo band and journeyman guitarist Mike Stone. As a result, Jackson, Rockenfield and Wilton became frustrated with Tate, leading to a public blow-up in summer 2002. A public reconciliation was made and at some point Chris DeGarmo became aware of the music his former bandmates were writing and reached out to be a part of the process.
The music on Tribe adopts some of the trademark of the "nu-metal" style guitar riffs that were popular at the time, with some TOOL-esqe rhythms as well, particularly the lead single, "Open." Fans were critical of the distinct lack of traditional guitar solos on the songs, however, which was also a trend many bands followed during the early 2000s. Overall, the original lineup songs found on Tribe sound like a natural progression from 1997's Hear in the Now Frontier (the original band's last album together), with bigger production and darker, edgier guitars.
Lyrically, Tribe was Tate's observations of U.S. society in a post-911 world. While on his 2002 solo tour, Tate allegedly kept a journal that he turned into lyrical ideas for the record. Songs such as "Desert Dance," convey Tate's motorcycle rides through the wastelands, while "Falling Behind" questions why people of different faiths continue to clash. The lyrics of "Justified" were penned by DeGarmo. That song deals with a relationship gone south, and attempts to reconcile it. Many fans have wondered if "Justified" was a veiled message from DeGarmo to his old bandmates. But that has never been confirmed by Chris.
Title: Greatest Hits
Notes: Almost three years following DeGarmo's departure from Queensryche, Capitol Records issued the band's first greatest hits package. A compilation of various singles from Queensryche's first seven studio releases, Greatest Hits features 24-bit remastered audio and two b-sides. The artwork was designed by acclaimed artists Hugh Syme, who also created the album cover for Hear in the Now Frontier.
Title: Classic Masters
Title: The Essential
Notes: German import compilation featuring some live tracks.
Title: Sign of the Times: The Best of Queensryche
Notes: The above is the tracklist for the digital (iTunes/Amazon) version of this compilation. The physical one-disc version removes "Empire" and "You" in favor of tracks from the non-original lineup of the band. I have chosen to only include the original lineup tracklist here. A two-disc collector's edition (physical version) contains four demos from MYTH, Tate's band prior to Queensryche (which are completely different than the QR songs, and are only familiar in title and a few lyric lines); some b-sides, and some unreleased material, including "Justified," which was a final track penned for Tribe that was discussed above. That collector's edition second disc tracklist is as follows:
Take Hold of the Flame (MYTH demo)
Title: The Collection
Title: 10 Great Songs
While tribute records devoted to an artist are obviously not a part of a band's discography, I wanted to include the two devoted to Queensryche to recognize the efforts of the bands who thought highly enough of Queensryche's songs to re-interpret and record them.
Title: Warning: Minds of Raging Empires -- A Tribute to Queensryche
Title: Rebellion: A Tribute to Queensryche
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