Revolution Calling

by: Queensrÿche

Revolution Calling is a box set of the complete EMI recordings -- and one interactive video game -- by Queensrÿche, the thinking-man's metal cum progressive hard rock band from Seattle. The package is slick in that all eight releases -- nine discs in all -- come in a tight, handsome black box with paper LP-styled covers for each album and a double gatefold version for the two-disc game Promised Land -- a further extrapolation on an album of the same name. First the bad stuff -- because there isn't much of it. Given the design of the box, the liner notes that accompany it are, by and large, instructions for the game. There is an introductory essay that is perfunctory at best, but no information regarding the considerable amount of bonus material included here (for instance, their self-titled EP, a mere four tracks, is fleshed out on CD with ten more cuts that were released on a Live in Tokyo videodisc but are discussed nowhere in the notes). That said, it might also have been nice to include the at least some of the band's considerable video output. Also, on virtually every other disc in the package, there is at least one bonus track not credited to anything. On Empire, none of them are. That said, there is plenty to be said for this box as an essential purchase for any real fan of the band. All of the studio recordings are here, with copious amounts of bonus material. Recordings like Operation: Mindcrime and Empire sound like new recordings, as they are so crisp, so detailed and warm in their remastering. Of the early material, it was obvious that Queensrÿche from the beginning thought big (conceptually, that is) and tried to make something of a statement with each recording. While listeners will have their favorites, this set goes a long way to revising the generally dour opinion about Hear in the Now Frontier, which in the context of the other six outings is not so much of a letdown but yet another expansion. Queensrÿche are like Liverpool's Anathema in that their sound is one that is always layered with equal parts emotion, metallic crunch, and melodic invention as well as the acumen to change. Hear in the Now Frontier, while harder than Promised Land or Empire, is no less well conceived and executed. This is a picture of the history of hard rock that was shorted out by Nirvana, and it's too bad. If all these albums are taken individually, you get fine 24-bit sound painstakingly remastered, cool packaging, and bonus cuts. All seven albums and one video game taken together in a collection is a testament to one of the most creatively intelligent and bad-ass rock bands to come out of the 1990s. Highly recommended for forgetting how bad the rest of hard rock was back then. ~ Thom Jurek

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