Review Summary: Bombast at its finest.
Chapter IV: The Peak of Bombast
When we use the term bombast, many people have the term "progressive rock" come into their minds. This is definitely a true statement, but it can sometimes be used a bit too much, even for the genre. Some bands, however, show the label proudly. Those bands utilize the aforementioned word without a care in the world what people think. A band that carries this status (or did, rather) at the fullest is Queen, and they reach their peak here, with A Night at the Opera. While their previous album Sheer Heart Attack was a breakthrough release for the group and showed their potential, this is really where they hit said potential with full force.
Once again, the main aspect of the group happens to be Freddie Mercury, the frontman and vocalist along with being a founding member. His singing has improved a lot in this stage of his career, and cements his reputation as being one of rock's best vocalists. Brian May also makes a large amount of contributions to this album as the guitarist. He does plenty of overdubs, a signature playing style for him. John Deacon brings out his songwriting in the elegant ballad "You're my Best Friend", while Roger Taylor writes the song "I'm in Love with my Car", one of his best songs yet.
What's so interesting about this album is the fact that it can change so many genres in an instant. Take the epic Prophet Song for example. It begins with a nice acoustic guitar intro with Freddie singing, yet all of a sudden it erupts into a prog rocker complete with the epic feel and beat shifts. Afterwards, it goes into a lengthy A cappella interlude with massively overdubbed vocals by Freddie Mercury. Then it goes for the solo, the chorus once again, and an ending with the acoustic guitar coming back into play. It should also be noted that this is the longest song on the album, clocking in at over 8 minutes. The point overall is that these great genre changes are common in the album.
The John Deacon contribution "You're my Best Friend" is a nice highlight to the album. It eases things up a bit, especially in the middle of the album where it's needed. It's starts with opening chords on a Wurlitzer piano. This song generally focuses on Freddie Mercury's vocals, along with the multiple harmonies supplied by Roger Taylor. Overall, it's just a nice, gentle, and graceful tune. It would definitely be the best song written by John Deacon.
Other great tracks like "I'm in Love with my Car"(Roger Taylor's contribution about his love of cars) and "Sweet Lady" are also in here, but who could miss the great Bohemian Rhapsody? While a tad overrated, it's easy to see why people liked the song. It mixes to many genres into one song, yet comes out so well. Thus, it is a definitive piece of classic rock that will be remembered for a long time.
One thing has to be admitted with this record, however: With indulgence in one's own works, some music may meander a bit. Queen isn't one that escapes from this fact either. To be honest, Prophet Song is probably the prime example. The A cappella part, While great, is unnecessarily long at points.
That doesn't detract too much from the album, however, and actually the band can also be quite cohesive in their sound. Overall, this album defines the style they tried to find all along. They would continue down this path with a large string of great albums up until 1982. This right here is bombast at its finest.