Queensrÿche, "Empire"

94 Billboard Rating

A good musician can play a song's notes well, but a true artist also skillfully navigates the breaths in between. Such holds true for Queensrÿche's approach to its 1990 commercial juggernaut, "Empire." The band treated each song's negative spaces with as much regard as the ones filled with sound, thus creating 10 superbly refined metal songs that barely feel 20 years old. To celebrate that milestone, Capitol/EMI has remastered the multiplatinum title that produced six career-defining singles, including dream-inspired lullaby "Silent Lucidity." James "Jimbo" Barton's original engineering already left the tracks razor sharp, but resuscitated snippets like a ticking guitar echo surrounding a section of lyrics ("Watching the time tick, tick away") on "Jet City Woman" are appreciated. Some of the bonus material on this two-CD set includes the foreboding "Scarborough Fair" and 10 unreleased live cuts from a 1990 show at London's Hammersmith Odeon. When freed from the sonic perfection of the studio, "Empire" is even more powerful live-Queensrÿche's fluid chemistry makes the listener feel every tendon pull and drop of sweat fall as the quintet nails every track with an inspired precision any band would kill to possess.

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