Friday, April 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Queen II, by Queen

In 1974, Queen put out their sophomore album Queen II, the follow-up to their mildly successful debut Queen. Though it contains none of the band's big radio pop hits that would skyrocket them into the legend that they would later become (although one or two of its songs were used in later Queen concerts) it is considered by many rockers (myself being among them) to be one of the absolute greatest hard rock/heavy metal albums ever created.

Queen II was the first album to feature many of the band's trademark sound elements such as: multiple overdubs, big choral backing harmonies, multiple guitar harmonies, and more. However, this was a much more hard rocking Queen than most people are used to. It honestly feels like a precursor to melodic heavy metal in some areas. The sides on the album are labeled "The White Side" and "The Black Side" rather than "Side 1" and "Side 2". The lyrical themes on "The Black Side" are rather dark and fantasy based whereas "The White Side" is more about emotions.

I know I have mentioned this before, but the track Seven Seas of Rhye from this album is one of the single greatest songs Queen ever created. That iconic lightning quick piano riff just whisks you away on a big adventure the moment it sails out onto the air through your speakers. I love the bravado of young Freddie Mercury in this song. He sings with such authority and conviction. It's hard not to get swept up in the moment and feel like you're being a super awesome god along with him.

Ogre Battle is probably THE most heavy metal song Queen ever wrote. The whole band shines through on this one, though I LOVE the way Brian May just tears it up on guitar while John Deacon thunders away on bass and Roger Taylor pounds at the drums in one of the most progressive and odd time signatured rhythms I've ever heard them do. It is heavy, melodic, and of course gives you vivid pictures of all kinds of big fantasy themed scenes. I think one of the best parts though is just how high the backing vocal harmonies get at certain points. I didn't think anyone could go that high.

Queen II is important piece of Queen history because it shows not just where the band got its start, but also that they could do more than just fluffy pop stuff (even if said fluffy pop stuff was AMAZING). It showed that they had real integrity and skill as musicians and writers. It's definitely not what most people would be expecting or hoping to find when listening to a Queen album, but if you give it a chance you might find you dig it anyway. It's something great to rock out to. It has that same old big Queen sound, just with more overdrive and punch.

Queen II, by Queen receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Procession
2. Father to Son
3. White Queen (As It Began)
4. Some Day One Day
5. The Loser in the End
6. Ogre Battle
7. The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke
8. Nevermore
9. The March of the Black Queen
10. Funny How Love Is
11. Seven Seas of Rhye

Buy the album on Amazon:

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