Chronicling the History of Queensryche's Original Lineup
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July 10, 2018
Top-10 Most Underrated Queensryche Songs (Original Lineup)
By Brian Heaton
When your average rock and metal fan thinks of Queensryche, he or she no doubt will cite Operation: Mindcrime or Empire as the band’s watershed releases. There’s no question that Queensryche’s biggest singles came from those two records: “Eyes of a Stranger,” “I Don’t Believe in Love,” “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” and of course, the Pink Floyd-inspired ballad, “Silent Lucidity,” among many others.
But in the modern era of instant gratification, where full album listening is eschewed for playlists of hits, a treasure trove of great tunes from Queensryche’s original lineup has gone undiscovered. So, if folks insist on downloading individual songs, we present the top-10 list of the Seattle quintet’s most underrated deep tracks to check out.
#10 - Chasing Blue Sky
Written by Scott Rockenfield (music) and Geoff Tate (lyrics), "Chasing Blue Sky" is a serene, acoustic-based tune that was a b-side for Hear in the Now Frontier, and appears on the Japanese edition of the album. While the song has a basic arrangement, the serene guitar playing is catchy, and the song features a harmonica solo, giving track a unique spin.
#9 - Falling Behind
Appearing on Tribe, “Falling Behind” is a moody piece written by Chris DeGarmo, with lyrics by Geoff Tate. “Falling Behind” is classic Queensryche in the sense that it delivers social commentary with a questioning tone. While acoustic in the verses, the lead guitar in the chorus is electric, and deftly supports the theme of the tune. The highlight of the song is most likely the bridge, where the lead guitar brings the emotion to a higher level.
#8 - Hero
Queensryche’s Hear in the Now Frontier doesn’t get a lot of love from fans, but there’s an awful lot of ear candy on it. One track in particular is “Hero.” The highlight of the tune is DeGarmo’s intriguing guitar work, which carries the purposefully monotonous vocal delivery so that the listener will hone in on the message...
#7 - Dirty Lil' Secret
A b-side from Queensryche during the post-Empire, early Promised Land sessions, “Dirty Lil’ Secret” didn’t get the love that “Last Time in Paris” or “Real World” did, as those were included on movie soundtracks (Ford Fairlaine and The Last Action Hero, respectively). But “Dirty Lil’ Secret” is arguably superior to those cuts, ripe with cheeky social commentary, and a snarky guitar tone to match.
#6 - One More Time
Buried at the end of Promised Land, “One More Time” evokes a dichotomy of both melancholy and uplifting feelings as it supports the introspective theme of the album. The music is a similar juxtaposition, alternating between lighter and heavier moments. The highlight of the tune is most likely the huge melodic chorus, which if released in 1991, as opposed to 1994, would have made “One More Time” an obvious single, despite the darker lyrical content.
#5 - No Sanctuary
When thinking about Queensryche's first LP, The Warning, most fans remember the uplifting, crowd-pleasing, "Take Hold of the Flame," or the record’s epic lengthy closer, “Roads to Madness.” But the somber, yet powerful “No Sanctuary” stands among the greatest on the album. Opening with a slower tempo and acoustic guitar, the song ramps up toward the end, featuring thoughtful lyrics, and demonstrating the more “serious-minded” take on a ballad that Queensryche would be known for years later.
#4 - Della Brown
Quite simply, “Della Brown” is a song that Queensryche fans usually find no middle ground on—they either love it or hate it. I’m in the former category. Appearing on Empire, the song is Queensryche’s expertly crafted take on the blues, with a progressive flair, and some of the finest guitar work Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton have ever done. The thought-provoking lyrics and captivating rhythm of this underrated gem puts you right on the streets of Seattle in the late-1980s/early-1990s.
#3 - Neue Regel
Translated from German, "Neue Regel" means "new rule," or "new reign," and this tune certainly signaled a new approach by Queensryche on its 1986 release Rage for Order. Featuring a haunting opening keyboard and acoustic guitar sequence, "Neue Regal" is the epitome of a stable of songs that helped usher in a unique sub-genre of metal that blended prog, goth, and industrial sounds. The vocal delivery on this track also helped set the template for singer Geoff Tate, as it highlights the many facets of his distinct dramatic style.
#2 - spOOL
The closing track on Hear in the Now Frontier, "spOOL" has an epic mid-tempo vibe, driven by a pounding bass line by Eddie Jackson and the spacey guitar work of Chris DeGarmo. The lead guitar playing is understated in the verses and during the solo spot, but incredibly aggressive in the chorus (from the sound of it, most likely Michael Wilton), giving the song a quirky arrangement. In classic style, features an interesting twist on the band’s social commentary, while the verses and chorus build up in intensity to support the lyrics.
#1 - The Art of Life
Although Queensryche had experimented with spoken-word songs previously, most notably on the single "Dis-con-nec-ted" from Promised Land, it can be argued the band didn’t quite get it right until "The Art of Life." Found on Tribe, and written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate, the tune is driven by a distorted, moody, mid-tempo guitar line, with a cleaner, more melodic guitar weaving chords in the background. The melodic instrumentation combines with a powerful, harmonized chorus (which is Tate singing both parts of the harmony), that at times harkens back to both the Rage for Order and Promised Land eras of the band.