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QUEENSRYCHE - THE ESSENTIAL - EMI
Record Rating: ****

Queensryche - The Essential - EMI At the end of the 1980s, their Operation: Mindcrime stayed on the American charts for a year, selling millions of copies during its run, but Queensryche never sustained the widespread popularity that their counterparts Metallica did. Though their audience disappeared with the emergence of Nirvana and grunge music, they retained a large cult following well into the ensuing decades.

With a band like this one ~ whose niche fans are so heavily invested in their music ~ coming up with a single greatest hits CD that'll please everybody is impossible, but The Essential has come about as close as you can reasonably expect them to. All of the band's well-known material is here, from their breakthrough hit Silent Lucidity to the steely The Lady Wore Black and I Don't Believe In Love.

The tracks have been digitally re-mastered, which makes a notable difference on older material such as Queen Of The Reich. The band were known in their heyday for their concept albums rife with dizzy complex tales of distress and glamour, carving highly intelligent, thinking-guy's music instead of the wild, obnoxious sound metal bands were into. Lead singer Geoff Tate emulated Led Zeppelin more than Ozzy Osbourne, and early gems Take Hold Of The Flame and I Dream In Infrared are a testament to that. Though Operation: Mindcrime works best as a whole, its peaks were I Don't Believe In Love and the almost ballad-like Eyes Of A Stranger, which do appear on this one.

There is no doubt that many of Queensryche's best songs are collected here, but a few stars were knocked off for not including fan favourites The Killing Words and the ethereal Real World from the hit movie Last Action Hero. Still, metal fans will want to pick this up for the hard-to-find live tracks that are here.

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