Formed around lead singer Geoff Tate, Queensryche produced a self-financed album in '83 entitled "Queen Of The Ryche." EMI Records re-released it and dubbed the group Queensryche. Tate, drummer Scott Rockenfield (great name), bassist Eddie Jackson, guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo spent the next two years opening for Bon Jovi, KISS and Metallica. They also produced their second and third albums, "The Warning" and "Rage for Order."
Borrowing from George Orwell and using producer Peter Collins "Operation: Mindcrime" was released in '88. While the album didn't roll up the charts, it did stay around for over a year selling a million copies. Two years later, "Empire" arrived with the ballad "Silent Lucidity" cracking the Top 10 on the pop charts. Queensryche hit the "Monsters of Rock" tour and recorded "Operation: Livecrime."
With fame came the opportunity to make some bad choices, like contributing a song ("Real World") to Arnold's bomb, "The Last Action Hero." However, the band got back on track with "Promised Land" and "Here In The Now Frontier."
Toward the end of the decade DeGarmo left - replaced by Kelly Gray. The next step was the launch of "Q2K" which featured the hook laden "Falling Down."
Gray, never a fan favorite, didn't last long. DeGarmo returned for '03 "Tribe" but he did not officially rejoin the group. Rather, Mike Stone got the nod.
'03 release "Revolution Calling" was the obligatory remastered box set containing the group's first seven albums. But there was more, including live and bonus tracks - even some MTV Unplugged stuff. That same year Queensryche regrouped for "Tribe" which was followed by the concert souvenir "The Art Of Live."
"Operation: Mindcrime II," a sequel released eighteen years after the original, rolled out in '06. The album made its debut at #14, the highest chart entry for a Queensryche effort since '97. It certainly helped that Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell) provided the vocals for the villain, Dr. X.
The subsequent "Mindcrime II" tour featured performances of both Mindcrime albums in their entirety. For a show at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, Dio, in the Dr. X persona, contributed vocals on "The Chase." That performance was taped and shown at other tour stops and was included in the '07 DVD release Mindcrime At The Moore.
"Sign Of The Times," a Queensryche greatest hits compilation, landed in '07. It was followed by "Take Cover," a collection, as the name implied, of covers originally recorded by The Police ("Synchronicity II"), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ("Almost Cut My Hair"), Buffalo Springfield ("For What It's Worth") and Queen ("Innuendo"), among others.
Stone bailed in '09 to focus on his band Speed-X. That did not impede work on the group's 12th studio album, "American Soldier." The songs were based on interviews Tate conducted with veterans from World War II to Iraq so he could tell their story in their own words. Wilton played all the guitars on the album but the band took Parker Lundgren (The Nihilists/Sledgeback) on the supporting tour.
With recording, touring and trying to live some semblance of a normal life, personal issues and business operations often get put on the back burner - just waiting to boil over. That happened on 4/12/12 when Queensryche conducted a band meeting - one that Tate did not attend. They decided to fire Tate's stepdaughter Miranda who ran the band's fan club. They also fired Tate's wife, the band's manager, over "feelings that Susan Tate was not working on the behalf of the band as a whole."
Just two days later, during a soundcheck prior to a concert in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tate and the rest of the band got into a heated argument, with punches thrown, over the firings and questionable financial dealings. Somehow, Queensryche got through that show and a couple others. But Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson came to the conclusion that there was no future in working with Tate.
An early June conference call to negotiate a buyout settlement with Tate ended without an agreement though Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson decided to "continue to use the Queensryche name with a new lead singer."
Not so fast. Just a week later, Tate and his wife filed a lawsuit claiming that the singer was illegally fired from the band. They also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent both the plaintiffs and the defendants from using the Queensryche name.
Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson then filed a motion for partial summary judgment in a Seattle court to declare that Tate "has no right to the Queensryche band name, marks and media assets since he has no grant of authority from the TriRyche Corporation that owns them, unless and until he is able to succeed on his claims to dissolve the Queensryche corporations and to enter a permanent injunction to the same."
However, a Washington State Superior Court judge ruled that Tate was allowed to perform under the Queensryche name until the lawsuit between him and his former bandmates was resolved.
Tate subsequently announced the formation of his own version of Queensryche, complete with a tour itinerary. They were promoted as "Queensryche Starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice."
Enter Todd La Torre. He fronted Crimson Glory, a band that played music from Queensryche's first five albums. Wilton knew La Torre and had even discussed the possibility of a joint side project. As it turned out, just two weeks after the failed conference call, La Torre was named Queensryche's singer.
The La Torre fronted Queensryche launched their Return To History tour in March, '13 with plans to release an album later in the year.
"We are also thankful for all of the fans who have supported us from day one and helped us get to where we are today," said Jackson in a statement. "Todd, Scott, Parker, Michael and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for each and every one of you."
Tate's Queensryche had some impressive talents: bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot), guitarist Kelly Gray (Queensryche '98-'01), keyboardist Randy Gane, guitarist Robert Sarzo (Quiet Riot), and drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio). They issued "Frequency Unknown" in '13.
Queensryche, with La Torre, released a self-titled effort a few months later.
Finally, in '14, Queensryche and Tate announced that they had reached a settlement in their dispute over the use of the band's name.
Jackson, Rockenfield and Wilton, plus recent members La Torre and Lundgren, were named the sole entity recording and touring as Queensryche. Tate won the exclusive rights to perform "Operation: Mindcrime I" and "II" in their entirety as a unique performance.
With the legal issues out of the way, Queensryche returned to the studio and emerged with their 15th studio album, "Condition Human." La Torre called the '15 effort a "raging animal."
"We recorded a total of fifteen named tracks. And there's no fat or filler on it," added La Torre.
"It's the evolution of Queensryche," claimed Wilton. "There is so much heart put into this album, I think people will really enjoy it."
1984 The Warning
1986 Rage For Order
1988 Operation: Mindcrime
1991Queensryche - Operation Livecrime (Live)
1994 Promised Land
1997 Hear In The Now Frontier
2006 Operation: Mindcrime II
2007 Sign Of The Times (Greatest Hits)
2007 Take Cover
2009 American Soldier
2013 Frequency Unknown (w/ Tate)
2013 Queensryche (w/ La Torre)
2015 Condition Human
After plodding through the '80s with three albums that failed to alter their opening act status, Queensryche released "Empire" and "Operation: Mindcrime." The latter has "Eyes Of A Stranger." These two albums, along with "Hear In The Now Frontier," released in '97, are the group's strongest albums.
"Operation: Mindcrime II" vaults from ponderous Prog Rock claptrap ("Speed Of Light," "An International Confrontation" and "All The Promises") to blistering, nasty, mind mashing Rock ("I'm American," "Signs Say Go" and "Re-Arrange You").
Arguably, it's over-long and self-indulgent but it has enough power and Queensryche glory (not to mention madness) to put it over. That it doesn't measure up to the original isn't much of a surprise, it would be unfair to expect anything different.
For a group that made its reputation employing theatrical elements, "American Soldier" is a natural progression. But an album focused on soldiers' experiences covering several generations could either be brutally grim or a jingoistic war chant. To Tate's credit "American Soldier" is neither.
The most moving song clearly is "Home Again." Ironically, the soldier won't be home but he has a message of encouragement for those who are.
"Revolution Calling" is a massive box set with over 100 tracks. There is enough live and bonus material to entice fans who thought they had everything. "The Art Of Live," which hit in '04, is an OK set but there is too much emphasis on recent ("Tribe") material.