This week I’m going to “cheat” and save myself some time by talking about an EP. It might be short in length but its significance to metal is vast.
Queensryche – self-titled
Released September 1983 via 206 Records
The EP was a demo in the true sense of the term – the band then known as The Mob were looking for a record deal. At the time they didn’t even have a singer, they convinced Geoff Tate of rival local act Myth to handle vocal duties on the demo.
The group changed their name to Queensryche, and altered the spelling of “reich” to avoid accusations of Nazism. They also put an umlat about the “y” but I’m going to be lazy and not do that in my post today.
The EP got around in quick order and the band quickly found themselves with a major label record deal with EMI. Geoff Tate agreed to join the band in full and one of metal’s most unique acts was on its way.
Today we have a whopping four songs to discuss. There are two other versions of the EP, thankfully I should have the time and space to talk about those a little bit.
Queen Of The Reich
The EP’s opener was also released as a single with The Lady Wore Black as a b-side, so half of the EP was made available on a separate record. Environmental waste aside, the band spared no time establishing themselves as a force in the metal world. Even with the sound of a self-funded production effort, the band’s talent is evident in this blistering attack.
While the band gets down to business, the song is a showcase for the immense vocal talent of Geoff Tate. He could hang with the very best singers in metal and that is established right off the bat on this song.
And check out the music video for the song. It is … uh, just watch it.
The guitars of Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo put in some work on the second track. While still a traditional metal track, this song does offer a taste of the sound Queensryche would explore going forward.
Another brief yet savage metal attack that shows off more of the sound the band would pursue on their full-length debut. There are definite points of comparison between Blinded and songs from The Warning, I hear some of Roads To Madness going on here. Tate goes into insane territory with his voice at the song’s close.
The Lady Wore Black
A longer effort, the EP’s closer was unfinished when Tate agreed to help record and he composed the song’s lyrics. This was an early sign that Queensryche were not interested in simply playing metal, the band were going to be a thought-provoking force that explored soundscapes from multiple directions. This song stuck around in the band’s set for a long time.
Queensryche not only established the band in and of itself but it spread quickly and got the word out about the new outfit. They would make full use of their record deal and release three magnificent albums throughout the 1980’s. This EP only hinted at what was to come.
There are a few different reissued versions of the EP. In 1988 EMI released a version with a fifth song, Prophecy. The song was played live in the band’s beginning but was actually recorded during the Rage For Order sessions. It served as a bonus track both here and on a future reissue of The Warning.
The definitive reissue of the EP was released in 2003 and has a whole heap of bonus tracks – a nine song live set recorded in Japan in 1984. This live set was available on video as Live In Tokyo and was a very welcome addition to the reissued EP. The entire EP is performed, as well as Prophecy and a few songs from The Warning. It is a great set and I was very happy with the decision to include it as the EP’s bonus material.
It’s very uncommon for a demo to be an official part of a band’s discography. Usually demos aren’t even noticed and the songs are just reworked as part of a group’s debut. Demos were typically only sought out by hardcore collectors and were curiosities. But Queensryche were able to get a lot of mileage out of their demo – it is considered an essential part of their catalog and it was even certified gold. It would mark the start of a run of albums that would both shape and defy music.