Operation: Mindcrime and Empire Deluxe Editions

Queensrÿche crafted groundbreaking progressive-metal on 1988’s Operation: Mindcrime and 1990’s Empire. These new box sets contain remastered studio albums, live tracks, rare B-sides, and DVDs. Also look for performance footage and music videos from previous home videos, all featuring axe aces Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton.

The concept album Mindcrime was the Seattle quintet’s breakthrough, and many of its lyrical themes – demagoguery and corruption – remain eerily prescient. The taut, precise guitars of DeGarmo and Wilton blend well, and Geoff Tate’s soaring voice heightens the drama. “Revolution Calling,” “I Don’t Believe in Love,” and “Eyes of a Stranger” – crucial to the story arc – rock hard and resonate emotionally. Empire displays more creative maturity via the hit ballad “Silent Lucidity,” which solidified Queensrÿche’s frontrunner status. Bonus track highlights are live versions of “Spreading the Disease” and “The Needle Lies,” an adventurous cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair,” and an acoustic-based version of “I Dream in Infrared.”

Like Rush’s best work, these albums elevated guitar-heavy prog into something sophisticated and influential, though sadly, the Queensrÿche saga devolved into a nasty legal soap opera. Fortunately, these expanded albums remind us of their bold progressive achievements from 30 years ago.

This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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