Kerrang #238 May 1989
Ten months ago one might have been forgiven for thinking that Queensryche had unequivocally blown it for themselves. There they huddled, two albums in the hole and no-one, it seemed outside a handful of fanatics would truely give them the time of day, let alone recognition.
For our sins, they repaid us with the masterful 'Operation:Mindcrime' opus - a record so complex and spellbinding that any notion of gaining commercial success seemed about as remote as the Shetland Islands from Wimbledon. It was exactly the record they should not, in an ideal world, have even contemplated making except in some kind of bizarre suicide ritual. Let's face it, the only way to become a big rock star these days is to be as crass as possible and dress up like a tart viz Poison, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Britney Fox. Get the picture?
Queensryche are no fools. They stuck to their guns and made 'Operation:Mindcrime' to please no-one but their fans and themselves. For this we awarded many accolades, blew them kisses, laid rose petals at their feet and prayed to the Holy Ghost that divine intervention would indeed be their only saviour. Perhaps our prayers were answered because Queensryche have, beyond all expectation, rekindled their flame and appear to be riding the elevator to the top floor and beyond.
In America Queensryche have lifted themselves from near desperation to those next in line for big accolades. Constant and commited touring, particularly supporting Metallica, has won them the loyalty of thousands of grass-root HM fans, and Europe has very nearly caved in to their charms as well. In the UK last November they played a sensational headline show at London's Town and Country Club, a gig which literally blew the cobwebs out of every pair of ears in the joint. It was a concert of immense satisfaction and we left the venue knowing they would eventually succeed. Nothing could stop them.
Queensryche's biggest asset right now is that they rely 100% on their music alone to get the point across. No fancy lighting rig, no ludicrous stage sets and no posing, just straight-down-the-line Heavy Metal of the finest calibre.
The sound was strangely murky at the kick-off but by the second song 'Screaming in digital' we had crystal clear clarity allowing singer Geoff Tate to take those high notes out of the theatre and into the neighbouring stratosphere. God, he was awesome!
As you might expect the set was divided into two main segments. The first six songs were taken from the over-looked 'Rage for Order' opus, and that includes songs such as 'Surgical strike', 'Chemical Youth' and the creepy 'London'. Here the band reinforced their supremacy as the most happening band in the universe before slipping in 'No sanctuary' from their dismal debut LP, and then commencing a mind-mincing nine cuts lifted from 'Operation:Mindcrime'.
Now whilst I may have reservations over the validity of the original concept, the abbreviated version presented here had me reeling in the aisle and frothing at the mouth. 'Revolution calling', which included the 'I remember now' and 'Anarchy-X' bits, literally blew me away whilst 'Operation:Mindcrime' threw me to the floor, stomping it's lead-filled boots in my face and stealing the small change from my very pockets. 'Spreading the disease', 'The needle lies', and 'I don't believe in love', the latter a strangely melodic cut amongst the utter Metal carnage elsewhere, numbed my senses and 'Eyes of a stranger' ended the performance in abstract chaos.
Of course they returned for encores of 1983 EP vintage which included the song which started the whole damn thing off, namely 'Queen of the Reich'. 'The lady wore black' and 'Take hold of the flame', taken from their debut LP, put matters into abstract perspective and now, exactly two hours after they had started, they disappeared from sight content in the knowledge that any return visit to these shores will be on their terms alone. I only hope they play more than one solitary date, that's all.
Queensryche need worry no more. They are kings of the castle and anyone who refuses to believe that must be surely be a putz of the biggest order. Thank you and goodnight.