Queen
Queen II


5.0
classic

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (195 Reviews)
July 29th, 2014 | 51 replies


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first of Queen's two masterpieces.

Chapter II: The Big Leap Forward

I like to see progressive rock epics and albums as rock's own answer to classical symphonies and suites... complex, multifaceted, and brimming with technical skill. With the help of bands like Kansas, Genesis, Yes, and whoever else gets categorized in so-called "symphonic prog," 70s prog was able to be played on heavy rotation by those who didn't want to listen to the more simplistic forms of rock at the time. However, 70s-era Queen were always of a different breed. Yes, their music was complex. Yes, it was multifaceted. Yes, it contained varying time signatures. But what was so different? What really stood out? The charisma and bombast.

Freddie Mercury and co. were one of the very few acts to marry the complexity of prog with the mainstream success and streamlined nature of pop almost perfectly, something even Supertramp couldn't fully pull off (but they tried their best, that's for sure). "Queen" is such a fitting name for a group who could pull off pomp and eccentricity with such elegance and taste... and of course, there's the eclectic genre-bending involved as well. The band tried ragtime, hard rock, classical, jazz, gospel, metal, you name it. Oh sure, it felt a bit forced and out-of-control on occasion, but you can't really blame a band who are trying to expand the normal confines of hard rock. But here's the craziest thing: the album that only began to develop Queen's signature sound also happened to be one of their very best... perhaps their best, in fact. That, my friends, is Queen II.

Make no mistake, this is a full-fledged progressive rock album. Multitracked vocal harmonies run rampant, time signatures change quite frequently, and the band's signature stylistic shifts are here in full-form. Right from the dark funeral-like guitar overdubs of "Procession," you know you're in for a pretty unusual record from the get go; even more unique is the way the band had set up this epic album. First is Brian May's "white" side of the album which focuses on more beautiful and light tunes, whereas Mercury's "black" side is absolutely warped, outrageously bombastic, and extremely dark. With that said, let's just say that you shouldn't expect a whole lotta camp from this one like in later Queen works. Most of the material here replaces the band's usual humor and lightheartedness with more dramatic lyricism, much of it focusing on fantasy-influenced storytelling. Expect a dark record through and through, basically.

Aside from that, though, the real draw is in how well everyone in the band works in tandem with each other. John Deacon's bass perfectly compliments Freddie's piano playing in the somber "Nevermore," just like how Brian May's heavy guitar riffing and Roger Taylor's hollow and rough drum sound are a great fit in a hard-hitting song like "The Loser in the End." There's a genuine chemistry between the band members, something that seemed so powerful even in this phase of their career. Also, this is the first album in which the group's layered vocal harmonies came into high prominence, and they couldn't feel more welcome with the grandiose arrangements. The slow buildup in "Ogre Battle" leads into an incredibly loud burst of vocal bombast that has to be heard to be believed, and "March of the Black Queen"'s use of counterpoint brings out many highlights of this nature as well. That's not to say there aren't poppier or more tightly packed arrangements on here as well, as "Seven Seas of Rhye" and "Funny How Love Is" can prove, and these are placed right at the end to bring an optimistic end to a beautifully dark journey.

If Queen's debut was their set of musical blueprints, this is the towering skyscraper they were arranged to construct... and indeed it towers over most of its contemporaries, progressive rock or otherwise. It's beautiful, brutal, dark, florid, complex, and everything in between. But above all, it's simply a masterpiece. The combination of instrumental prowess and emotional depth is breathtaking... and to think that this was only the band's second record! It was clear that Queen's future would be bright, but it's cool to know that they had already mastered their craft early on; in any case, get this. I don't care if you enjoy rock, pop, classical, jazz, whatever. Just get this.



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user ratings (601)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • BenjoJames (4.5)
    Whilst not as commercially successful or as popular as many of their later efforts, Queen ...

    Patoivanfer (4.5)
    Queen delivers a brilliant album which explores the bands evolving sound...

    Darzot (4.5)
    Queen becoming Queen; a supreme effort representing all that Queen was in all its glory...

    Adapter (5)
    Queen is crazier than ever. And better than anything, ever....

  • jamest33 (4.5)
    They're back, and crazier than ever....

    gblackman (2.5)
    Surely now the band will be less Zeppelin and try to adapt some of their own harmonies and...

    legspin (4)
    ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
July 29th 2014


10547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I tried smaller paragraphs and a more conversational style this time around for my rewrite of this; enjoy.



Also, album rules

Digging: Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly

Necrotica
July 29th 2014


10547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hellyeah, I can't believe it took me so long

manosg
July 29th 2014


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hell yeah dude! The album is an absolute masterpiece and I'm glad you reviewed it.

Digging: The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet?

Krigo
July 29th 2014


20 Comments


I actually need to check out this album and the debut, I've listened to the rest of the 70s Queen albums but never got around to listening to them. Kinda surprised I haven't listened to Queen II, considering that Seven Seas of Rhye is probably my favorite track by the band.

I'll fix that asap.

Emyay
July 29th 2014


6107 Comments


damn i gotta hear this

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2014


4125 Comments


I never was a Queen fan, but I'll give this one a shot.

Digging: Death Grips - The Powers That B - Part II: Jenny Death

ZackSh33
July 29th 2014


424 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

omg this album is amazing and this is a good review

Necrotica
July 29th 2014


10547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you :]

deslad
July 29th 2014


436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review, outstanding record.

Digging: Dream Theater - Live Scenes From New York

BMDrummer
July 29th 2014


11181 Comments


fucking finally bruv gj [2]

MikeC26
July 29th 2014


3236 Comments


nice! need to check this out asap

Necrotica
July 29th 2014


10547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys, it felt nice to finally ditch the poem review

MrSirLordGentleman
July 29th 2014


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Freddie is god, fuck anyone who disagrees

deathschool
July 29th 2014


13024 Comments


Fantastic review, Necro. I shall listen to this today.

Digging: Death Grips - The Powers That B - Part II: Jenny Death

Necrotica
July 29th 2014


10547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! Yeah, whether or not the rest of Queen's discog is regarded as prog, this is definitely a

cornerstone and essential album in the genre. P/!!!!!

MrSirLordGentleman
July 29th 2014


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Queen is one of those bands that deserve its own genre

deathschool
July 29th 2014


13024 Comments


But... There are 7 albums before The Game.

deathschool
July 29th 2014


13024 Comments


SirLord is damn on the money.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2014


16382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

majestic

Digging: Different Strings - The Sounds of Silence, Pt. II: The Counterfeits

tommygun
July 29th 2014


25555 Comments


can't vibe to these dudes

review is eh ok

Digging: Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell



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