Queensrÿche was poised to follow in the footsteps of Pink Floyd, Rush, and Iron Maiden. Their early albums were derivative but interesting, and the Seattle quintet quickly synthesized intelligent, technically impressive progressive rock and heavy metal. Vocalist Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield arguably peaked with 1988's concept album Operation:Mindcrime, a masterpiece in terms of musicianship and story structure. Then 1990's equally excellent Empire exploded thanks to "Silent Lucidity." But some things happened that stopped Queensrÿche from cementing itself as a superstar band for the ages: (1) Within a year grunge exploded, rendering Queensrÿche's skills "unhip"; (2) 1994's Promised Land did well commercially but was generally underappreciated; (3) Queensrÿche virtually ruined its own career with 1997's disappointing and ill-conceived Hear in the Now Frontier, which featured a stripped-down "modern" sound five years after the fact; (4) Queensrÿche's label, EMI, folded just after its release; (5) Perhaps reeling from creative uncertainty and label problems, DeGarmo quit. Prime highlights are collected on 2000's Greatest Hits, which covers seven EMI albums. "Queen of the Reich" is great heavy metal, even if Tate does imitate the operatic wail of Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. Other early gems are "Take Hold of the Flame" and "I Dream in Infrared." Operation:Mindcrime works best as a whole, but "I Don't Believe in Love" and "Eyes of a Stranger" are the peaks. Promised Land is represented by the superb "I Am I" and "Bridge." Two bonus tracks from Japanese releases are included: "Chasing Blue Sky" is astonishingly beautiful and "Someone Else?" features the full band. The Greatest Hits liner notes feature an essay by Paul Sutter who wrote an early Queensrÿche demo review for Kerrang! All 16 songs are 24-bit digitally remastered.
AllMusic Review by Bret Adams