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4.4 out of 5 stars26
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 21 August 2010
Up to this point, Queensryche had nothing but a string of great albums, and Empire continues this combo. The progressive nature of Queensryche, as a Progressive Rock/Metal band, as definitely progressed. But this album also delivers a more commercial sound, and is packed with power ballads to the point where Queensryche can hardly be called a Metal band anymore - which is probably my only complaint about this album, as I'm personally more into a Heavier music. But worry not!!! This album has some really tight tunes.

Standout tracks include: "Best I Can", "The Thin Line" and the awesome "title track" and "Anybody Listening".
"Silent Lucidity", which is one of their most popular tracks, is good, but I could never get into it. Even though I enjoy Pink Floyd.

But there is no bad song on this album, and will without doubt please any fan of the band, who for some reason haven't bought this album.
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on 15 February 2005
A great follow up to mindcrime. The songs are just as stong but the album is very different. A must for rock fans cause this albums as alot of catchy riffs and Geoff Tate's vocals are as good as any other singer. If you don't have operation mindcrime i suggest you buy this cause it's one of the best albums ever!!
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on 10 July 2001
Operation Mindcrime tends to be the fans choice and is probably their most highly praised work, but for me, the craft and intelligence and the more progressive nature of Empire make it the superior offering. It retains the epic nature of Mindcrime but not being a concept album allows the listener the opportunity to dip in and out more easily.
Empire also contains a clutch of strong singles, including "Best I Can", "Empire", "Jet City Woman", and "Silent Lucidity" (which went to #1 in the US, and once again fooled thousands into to buying the album expecting more of the same; glory to the few who actually discovered the band proper as a result!).
As for the guitar work, not only do you have Chris De Garmo's soaring runs and cutting tone, there's Michael Wilson there too, to double the pleasure, who's sustain and melody complement superbly. There's a lot of both split lead and counterpoint, and I'd rate them up there with Tipton/Downing and Gorham/Robinson any day of the week.
Personal highlight for me is Della Brown, which just seems to combine the melancholic grandeur of the album with the superb technical performances of both guitarists perfectly.
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Empire was the fourth full-length studio album from the Seattle based Progressive Metal band Queensrÿche. It followed up the classic concept album Operation:Mindcrime and caught the zeitgeist of the time, becoming the band's best-selling album to date.

While Operation:Mindcrime was an artistic highlight for the band and gained them a larger public awareness than they'd previously enjoyed, it seemed as though with its follow up Queensrÿche wanted to deliver some of the same powerful yet accessible, complex yet catchy Metal but without the constraints of the concept. They wanted every song to work individually and not just as one part of a whole that doesn't always work out of context.

They also didn't want to be specifically just a Prog band or just a Metal band anymore, they wanted to concentrate on songwriting and make every track as if it was a hit single.

For most people, Empire achieved exactly that. Buoyed by a trilogy of big singles in the form of the socially aware Title Track, the emotional `Jet City Woman' and the superb ballad `Silent Lucidity,' Empire was not only a hit among a legion of new fair-weather fans, but a success with the core fan base too, and now it is looked back on as a classic, almost as much as Operation:Mindcrime. If like me you weren't there at the time and only heard of the band in recent years, it is a great record to get into even now, and stands the test of time really well.

There are some fans who disagree however and sometimes Empire gets painted as being a massive departure and slated for not sounding enough like what came before it, it can be seen as either (or both) a selling-out or an over-simplification if you got into the band through the channels of either a love of early Metal or a love of Prog more than just a love of Queensrÿche themselves.

For many fans however, there is more than enough similarity with the previous albums to be heard. Although there is nothing as straight forwardly Metal as `The Needle Lies,' `Surgical Strike,' `En Force' or `Queen Of The Reich' from their previous releases, Empire still fits in with the band's overall sound rather well.

Tracks like `Della Brown' and `Silent Lucidity' fit with the band's previous takes on balladry, such as `I Will Remember' and `I Only Dream In Infrared,' and also the synthy but dark and slightly proggy `The Thin Line' fits in with things like `London' and `Suite Sister Mary.' The pre-chorus of `Jet City Woman' is even a little reminiscent of `Take Hold Of The Flame' after a fashion.

The band do undoubtedly push things in a more commercial direction on this album, but they still do things in a bit more of a complex and impressive way than most other commercial MTV Rock/Metal albums of the time and there are enough distorted riffs and lead guitar still there to keep most fans happy. It pretty much nails the balance between retaining what make Queensrÿche good and delivering big, bright and catchy, commercial rock music.

If you ignore musical-style altogether however, this is plain and simple a collection of very good songs. The musicianship is excellent, Geoff's vocals are inspired and the lyrics are for the most part intelligent and interesting. There's lots of little spidery riffs and vocal lines that will get stuck in your head, and most of the tracks can enliven any compilation or live set.

Overall, Empire is a great album and even if wasn't what you wanted from the band in terms of musical-direction, it is a fine achievement purely in terms of songwriting and performance. This is one of the band's biggest albums for a reason and the three big singles alone are reason enough to explore the album, never mind things like `Best I Can' and `Resistance.' If you are interested in Queensrÿche this is a must-listen album.
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on 4 January 2010
Following up on the behemoth that was Operation Mindcrime was always going to be a challenge. To tackle the problem, Queensryche veered away from a Mindcrime 2 sound (for the time being) and opted for a slicker more straight forward and less demanding radio friendly approach. Empire does have it's gritty themes, say in the vitriolic title track (gang warfare), the thundering 'Best I Can' (overcoming disability) or in the social commentary and pathos of Della Brown (the homeless) but the lyrical punch is smothered in a rich sounding glossy production job.

Highlights are numerous - the evergreen, bass driven and soaring 'Jet City Woman', which clearly takes the band back to its roots in Seattle, the aforementioned angst of the title track and the fragile and touching semi acoustic 'Silent Lucidity', which rightfully had a modicum of chart success at the time. On the negative side there is the stomach churning 'One and Only', a song for DeGarmo's wife I believe (which ranks amongst Queensryche's worst at that point in their career) and the misfiring and tired 'Hand On Heart' with it's sing-song chorus.

Overall Empire is an excellent Queensryche album - matched against lesser bands it stands as an outright classic. However, compared to its 2 immediate predecessors (Mindcrime and Rage) it replaces edginess and innovation with slickness and accessibility.

Queensryche, arguably, never sounded quite like this again.
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on 8 July 2011
Coming after the stunning Operation:Mindcrime this was a huge hit and can be considered as their commercial peak. In essence however it is where the band start to drag their feet and produce uninteresting , almost proggy semi-epics. A few great tracks aside, this is a mainly dull affair.

'Best I Can' is an ok opener but falls a bit flat with the lack of any real tune or chorus. 'The Thin Line' on the other hand is the complete opposite and is one of my favourite tracks. It's not immediate but it's a very well crafted song that has a great chorus. 'Jet City Woman' is mot as good but definitely retains a lot more passion and creativity and also has a good chorus. 'Della Brown' is just too long and too boring. I have listened to it many times and it's not terrible but there is no real tune or anything to make it stand out. 'Suite Sister Mary' on Operation... was of a similar length and style but it was far better. 'Another Rainy Night' is top notch rock from the band with another excellent, catchy chorus. 'Empire' should have been brilliant. In truth it is merely good.

'Resistance' is forgettable with out being awful, it simply has no redeeming or interesting facets to discuss. In short, it is mediocre. 'Silent Lucidity' on the other hand is a fantastic grower. A great picked riff and soaring chorus made this the hit that encapsulated the album on its release. And it is very worthy indeed. This and 'The Thin Line' are the only 2 truly great tracks. 'Hand on Heart' is ok and has a good chorus but sounds almost sub-Journey. 'One & Only' is another forgettable track, although it is slightly better than 'Resistance'. 'Is Anybody Listening' is not bad at all as a closer. It's no classic but has enough to make it a very hummable, if dirgey song.

Compared to their previous album it pales and disappears. On its own it is ok but still feels as though they could have done so much better.
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on 10 December 2014
Not a bad album but certainly not their finest moment. Although the album has some fine stand out tracks in "The Thin Line", "Jet City Woman", "Empire" and "Della Brown", fans of old/early Queensrÿche wont be too pleased with additions of synths/keyboards to help pad the sound out and some songs are to commercial. It could be argued that the band were trying to crack open the US market after a hugely successful "Operation Mindcrime". However, softer slower ballad type rock songs (nearly AOR) have crept in. Songs like "Silent Lucidity", "Hand On Heart", "Anybody Listening" would be better suited to a Journey album rather than a metal band.

I bought the original album when it first came out in the late 1980's and was already a massive fan after their debut EP but I was greatly disappointed with Empire. I couldn't help but feel that these slower songs were recorded at the bequest record company marketing execs made to make the band appeal to a wider audience and not Queensrÿche fans of old. There's no escaping the brilliance of "Operation Mindcrime" but I just feel this album was never destined to be a classic after such a monster album. Still, they were a great band and superb live so make up your own mind and give it a listen.
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on 7 February 2008
Operation Mindcrime tends to be the fans choice and is probably their most highly praised work, but for me, the craft and intelligence and the more progressive nature of Empire make it the superior offering. It retains the epic nature of Mindcrime but not being a concept album allows the listener the opportunity to dip in and out more easily.
Empire also contains a clutch of strong singles, including "Best I Can", "Empire", "Jet City Woman", and "Silent Lucidity" (which went to #1 in the US, and once again fooled thousands into to buying the album expecting more of the same; glory to the few who actually discovered the band proper as a result!).

As for the guitar work, not only do you have Chris De Garmo's soaring runs and cutting tone, there's Michael Wilson there too, to double the pleasure, who's sustain and melody complement superbly. There's a lot of both split lead and counterpoint, and I'd rate them up there with Tipton/Downing and Gorham/Robinson any day of the week.

Personal highlight for me is Della Brown, which just seems to combine the melancholic grandeur of the album with the superb technical performances of both guitarists perfectly.
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Operation Mindcrime, I had heard of Queensryche before buying Operation mindcrime and on the strength of that I bought Empire. So OK it isn't Operation Mindcrime, but then nothing else could be. I love empire as a CD it stayed in on the stereo for months, the album does have more of a 'proggy' feel than 'crime but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, Silent Lucidity and Another Rainy Night are both quite heartfelt ballads, Empire harks back to the social commentary that so inspired 'crime. Its all good, and in writing this I can't believe how old the album is and how long it is since I listened to it - Will be being queued up on Winamp very very soon. If you like Queensryche you need to buy this album along with Mindcrime and if you need a thrid album I would recommend Promised Land, they are all good. This review only looses 1 star because of the unbeatable Operation Mindcrime.
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on 1 July 2008
The best Ryche album, not merely because of its commercial success. The arrangements and lyrics show a maturity which they haven't managed to replicate before or after. Empire actually gets better as it progresses. Songs like Resistance and One and Only have to rank as my favourite songs by this band. This is the sound of a totally committed and determined band knowing that this is a great album. It brims with bravado and confidence and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a joy musically from start to finish.
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