Review Summary: The essential Queensryche album. If you have not heard this, and you say you're a prog fan, you haven't lived.
Having listened to every Queensryche LP up to Hear in the Now Frontier, this album has a lot of meaning to me. While it is true that Empire, Rage for Order, The Warning, Promised Land and the album already mentioned at the beginning all are very good in my opinion, this record has perhaps the most amount of memorable songs.
Originating as The Mob, and having released 2 LPs (neither of which reached sales), Queensryche finally made the move to make an album that was both musically and conceptually ambitious, while at the same time making it appealing to major audiences. Thus this record was made. Impeccably produced, this record is more than just the story of Nikki and his recollections of work as a hired assasin. It's also a reference to many subjects that often are missed upon first listen.
Geoff Tate: Vocals
Chris DeGarmo: Lead Guitar
Eddie Jackson: Bass
Michael Wilton: Rythm Guitar
Scott Rockenfield: Drums
The album opens up with "I Remember Now" an intro that is not neccesary listening unless you want the whole shebang. "Anarchy-X is yet another storyline piece, as such it is not required listening. The album truly gets in gear with "Revolution Calling", an epic performance by the band which reveals their strenghts well. Tate does a fine job of being a singer/storyteller here.
The title track is brilliant as well, and is brilliantly executed. "Speak" has some of De Garmo's best guitar work, and as such it is an essential, if often overlooked, Queensryche track. The same goes for "Spreading the Disease", a song about Suite Sister Mary which at the same time points to major international issues. Tate really shines as a vocalist here.
There are many other tracks here, but I'll just go ahead and point to the favorites of this part of the record: "Suite Sister Mary", easily the darkest song on the record, which features creepy, dramatic voiceovers; "Breaking the Silence", which is just a plainly epic song; "I Don't Believe in Love", possibly the best known song on the record, and one of their biggest hits; and the epic, just incredibly awesome "Eyes of a Stranger", which leads into Nikki remembering who he is, thus starting the record again.
In terms of musicianship, Tate is the obvious standout. His soaring vocals are epic, and he dominates the stage in a fashion that few ever accomplish. DeGarmo's guitar tone and solos make the perfect counterpart to this. There are better drummers than Rockenfield, but he still does a fine job of making the songs hit your guts. All in all, this is a very well made album, and one which, to me, just grows with each listen.