THE TOP TEN BANDS MOST OFTEN MISCATEGORIZED AS HAIR METAL: #3, QUEENSRYCHE
Call it PBS, or Power Ballad Syndrome; Queensryche are yet another band whose biggest hit was a soft acoustic number — the haunting “Silent Lucidity” — and who were subsequently written off by many MTV viewers (and any young metal fans today who happen to stumble upon the song) who didn’t care to dig into the band’s deep history. But Queensryche were anything but hair metal; instead they were arguably one of the most crucial bands in progressive metal history, most certainly of the ’80s (and ’90s). If you had to put together a simple flow chart denoting key progressive metal influence over a period of time, it’d look something like this:
Rush -> Iron Maiden -> Queensryche -> Dream Theater -> BTBAM -> ?
An extremely important cog indeed. In a time when most metal focused on sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, Queenryche made it ok to be smart and be a metalhead by writing complex musical compositions with socially conscious lyrics.
Often dubbed “thinking man’s metal” — for example in this hilarious MTV clip where Jani Lane introduces their video — Queensryche were the first metal band to write a complete, honest to goodness concept album in 1988’s Operation Mindcrime. Their music was influenced more by the NWOBHM bands than anything from the American / Los Angeles scene, and as such they kind of had a hard time fitting in — their music was just too heady for the average joe. Even outside of their concept album magnum opus, Queenryche proved that they had plenty of staying power with the equally strong Empire, a more song-based affair that delivered a number of hits without cowering to outside musical pressures: the title track, “Best I Can,” “Jet City Woman,” “Hand on Heart” and of course “Silent Lucidity” are all songs with phenomenal staying power.
Queensryche were the filet mignon to your average ’80s metal band hamburger. Not that a burger is bad, but ya know, sometimes you just want something a bit better. Of all the bands we’ve covered so far on our list, Queensryche are certainly the least “hair metal” of them all.
THE LIST SO FAR: