Five Underground Gems to Fill Your Queensryche Void

As many a prog metal fan already knows, longtime Queensryche singer and frontman Geoff Tate left the band recently, splitting the legendary group into two warring factions.

And just like in similar cases with the likes of washed up 80s rock relics like Ratt or Skid Row – both of which had rifts between integral members but decided to go on as two separate and very subpar entities living off the same legacy – the only people who really lose out in the end are the fans.

With Queensryche, on one side we have Tate’s dismal solo albums that no one but his wife enjoys, and on the other side, the remaining members of Queensryche’s classic lineup, minus the two most important songwriters (Tate and former guitarist Chris DeGarmo), and in their places, two fairly capable live fill-ins.

Most longtime fans of the band have long given up on Queensryche ever making good music again, and with good reason. But now, it’s pretty safe to say that the last nail has been hammered into the coffin.

You as a Queensryche fan are now left with two options: One is Tate’s unlistenable new music and his haggard live renditions of old ‘Ryche favorites. The other is the new Queensryche with singer Todd La Torre, which will end up being a great nostalgia act (dare I say cover band) for years to come thanks to the fact that he is (relatively) young and does a fantastic impersonation of a youthful Tate. With this new Queensryche you will probably also get some new music that will try to emulate the classic material, but inevitably fall very short of capturing that magic of old.

But I am here to offer you a third option! Queensryche, of course, was a very popular and successful band in its heyday, which naturally led to a lot of new bands cropping up in the 90s playing a similar style of music. And furthermore, in his own right, Tate has become one of the most mimicked voices in metal history throughout the years.

Here are some old underground prog metal gems that, while certainly not as good as classic Queensryche, probably capture the spirit and sound of Queensryche’s golden years much better than the two remaining “Fakeryches” will be able to do.

Enjoy!

House of Spirits – Turn of the Tide (1994)

Regarded as an underground classic in most progressive and melodic metal circles, this album bridges the styles of “Mindcrime” and “Empire” era Queensryche, highlighting the catchy and memorable songwriting of the “Empire” era but maintaining the bite and heaviness of earlier Queensryche.

Lethal – Programmed (1990)

Probably the most well-known of these albums, Lethal remain cult favorites today. Their debut “Programmed” is probably their most popular album, and features music that sounds like an updated version of “The Warning”- very guitar-dominated without the keyboards and textures that Queensryche would begin to use much more regularly later in the band’s career.

Lord Bane – Age of Elegance (1994)

This album is probably the most original of the five. It does have a lot of Ryche-isms, but at the same time, you’ll hear lots of other influences sneaking in, namely nods to bands like Savatage, Crimson Glory and King Diamond as well. The production is a little rough, but the music is definitely exciting enough to overlook the less-than-perfect general sound of the record.

Veni Domine – Spiritual Wasteland (1998)

If you appreciate Queensryche’s slower moments and don’t mind Christian lyrics, this is an album you should check out. Veni Domine combine the regal air of Queensryche with the pace and atmosphere of early Candlemass to create fantastic melodic doom metal that is a bit too busy for doom purists and a bit too slow for most prog fans. If you like them, then their Swedish countrymen Memory Garden would also be considered mandatory listing, though Veni Domine get the nod in this instance because of the singer’s very strong vocal resemblance to Tate in his prime.

Mystic Force – Man vs. Machine (2001)

The “newest” of the five, having only come out a little over a decade ago, this album gives you everything you loved about classic Queensryche, but with a more aggressive and thrashy approach that could be compared to Sanctuary’s “Into the Mirror Black” or Nevermore’s self-titled debut in some moments. “Man vs. Machine” pulls together complex progressive metal arrangements while retaining the band’s heavier past sound that made them US power metal favorites a decade earlier, and singer William Wren puts in a brilliant performance.

3 Comments

  1. ManInJapan

    December 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    David, I’ve read your website before but I have to say that you definitely know your business. I’ve been reading about all the craziness surrounding Queensryche and it just makes my head spin! Thanks for introducing me to these other bands, they sound great. Like I said, you know music, thanks for writing this, I look forward to more.

    MIJ

  2. David-Lazar Galic

    January 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Glad you enjoyed it MIJ!

  3. T-Gallegos

    January 23, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Also, extremely highly recommended..Power of Omens! They sound like they way QR should have gone, but amazingly better.

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