Long before Seattle spawned Nirvana and their grunge ilk, the city was home to many groundbreaking rock bands. In the ’60s, Jimi Hendrix emerged from the jet city. Seattle sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson carried the torch for female hard rockers with their band Heart in the ’70s. Then in the early ’80s, one of the most groundbreaking bands in metal emerged from the city.
Queensryche‘s independently released 1983 debut EP set the metal world on its ear. The band’s sound was the perfect storm of Iron Maiden meets Judas Priest with a bit of Rush-worshipping prog rock thrown in. The delivery was quite unlike anything that came before, especially from an American band.
Queensryche would go on to scale the heights of the metal world throughout the rest of the ’80s, culminating in the critically acclaimed masterpiece concept album Operation Mindcrime in 1988 and their commercial smash hit album Empire in 1991. The band would spend the rest of the ’90’s reeling from the decline of heavy metal and languishing under the Herculean task of creating anything that could come close to rivaling those two iconic records. The departure of founding guitarist and creative leader Chris DeGarmo in 1997 followed by an acrimonious split with singer Geoff Tate in the 2000s would have been enough to end most bands, but against all odds Queensryche has rebounded with a new singer (Tate’s vocal doppelgÃ¤nger) Todd La Torre and the past few years have seen the band on a creative upswing with the release of their eponymous 2013 album Queensryche and extensive touring. (A tour, we’d like to add, which saw GoD’s own Dave3 and his band Gothic Knights opening for Queensryche in New Jersey at the Bergen Pac Center!)
Queensryche is currently hard at work on their 14th studio album and will be heading out on the road as the opening act for the Scorpions 50th anniversary tour later this year.
Here with the track that started it all from the 1983 self-titled EP is Queensryche with one of the best songs and cheesiest videos in the history of metal. This is “Queen of the Reich.”
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I will pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads.