Review by Omni: If you aren’t familiar with Queensrÿche by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Their music, which is perhaps best described as early 1980s power metal with progressive influences, has been hugely influential on later bands. This EP represents the very important first chapter in their story. Originally recorded in 1982 while the band was known as The Mob, these four tracks were originally released as a demo by the band through 206 Records. Its incredible popularity got the attention of EMI, who signed the band and released it as their debut EP. With a lineup consisting of guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, drummer Scott Rockenfield, The Mob recruited Geoff Tate as a session vocalist. This lineup would continue until 1997 and is generally considered the classic era of the band.
“Queen of the Reich” is one of the band’s most famous songs, and it became the inspiration for the band’s name after they realized that they would be unable to continue as The Mob. This song has all of the hallmarks of the classic Queensrÿche sound, with DeGarmo and Wilton’s powerful, melodic guitar playing and Tate’s soaring vocals being immediately recognizable to fans of old-school metal. Jackson and Rockenfield are also incredibly competent, and their work in the rhythm section gives the song a driving sense of urgency. It’s easy to see why this band would become so influential on power metal and progressive metal. Despite the band’s young age, the musicianship is already incredibly tight and Tate sounds incredibly comfortable with the rest of the band, making it easy to see why he decided to join as a full-time member. All four songs are fantastic, but “The Lady Wore Black” is probably the highlight for me. This song features Tate’s only lyrical contribution to the EP and it remains a shining example of how to do a melancholic metal ballad that isn’t missing the metal!
The 2003 remaster features all ten tracks from the band’s 1984 concert video, Live in Tokyo. These live performances are excellent. The performances are on par with the studio versions of the songs and the Tate’s interactions with the crowd are a far cry from the reports of him cursing and spitting at audience members in recent years. This is a welcome addition to the short runtime of the original release. Overall, this is a mandatory listen for anyone who likes power metal or progressive metal.
My rating: 95/100 (Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)