Formed in 1981 outside Seattle, Washington, Queensrÿche were one of the most artistic and creative of the hard rock bands during the decade, and released one of the most enduring and influential albums in the genre, Operation: Mindcrime, the story of a young man fed psychotropic mind-control drugs by the government that lead him to murder his girlfriend.
It was a concept album with a sweeping story arc, complex arrangements, socially conscious lyrics and snippets of sound effects and dialogue to carry listeners from song to song.
The album built on foundations laid on their very first EP, and the band’s follow-up – the more accessible, lighter Empire (August 1990) – secured their commercial success with the spin-off power ballad hit Silent Lucidity, a song that set Geoff Tate’s impressive vocal against a full orchestra.
During the 18 months following the release of Empire, the band toured non-stop, eventually coming off the road only out of pure exhaustion.
After taking time off for personal issues, the band re-emerged in 1994 but foundered in the wake of grunge.
Eventually, guitarist Chris DeGarmo left the band, but a reinvigorated Queensrÿche released Operation: Mindcrime II in 2006.