It was the early 80s, and when I could actually tune in the closest real rock station in the Mississippi delta, you could find me in my room on Saturday nights listening to a syndicated hard rock and heavy metal music and interview show called Metal Shop. On one particular night nearly 30 years ago, I was introduced to a new band called Queensrÿche by way of two tracks from their recently released self-titled EP. The FM reception was spotty at best, but even through the static, as the intro riff of “Queen of the Reich” and Geoff Tate’s opening scream swelled to a crescendo, I knew I was listening to something special. This song and “The Lady Wore Black” immediately hooked me, and I dubbed a friend’s cassette sometime shortly after that, simultaneously falling in love with the band and the EP.
Queensrÿche’s brand of fantasy metal was right up my alley—musically technical, somewhat progressive, complete with twin guitar solos and Dungeons & Dragons-themed lyrics that beckoned me with images of mysticism, clairvoyants, medieval or post-apocolyptic power struggles, and world-wide technology takeovers. As the band matured over the years, the music and subject matter changed, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Then there was the loss of DeGarmo, the ill-advised releases of the past decade, and finally the drama surrounding the recent split with Tate. Regardless, that first glimpse of the band and the EP will forever be a special moment for me.
Happy 30th Birthday, Queensrÿche.