The march of the Black Queen: Queen’s first multi-part epic

Drew Ruppel, Staff

The March of the Black Queen is the ninth track from the band Queen’s second self-titled album, Queen II, largely considered Queen’s heaviest album. It is Queen’s second longest track at about six and a half minutes long. The song’s main claim to fame among Queen fans is being a predecessor to Bohemian Rhapsody by more than a year in the fact that it is a long, complex, multi-part song that takes the listener on a musical journey. 

The March of the Black Queen started as an idea that frontman Freddie Mercury had before he had even joined the band. He told Melody Maker, “That song took me ages to complete. I wanted to give it everything, to be self indulgent or whatever.”

During the sessions for Queen II is when the whole band began work on the song, Layering track after track of vocals, guitars, and embellishments into the track. The song ended up so complex that the technology of the time had trouble catching up, with drummer Roger Taylor saying in a 1977 interview, “The tape went transparent, genuinely… It was 16-track… The tape had gone over the recording head so many times, overdubbing, that the oxide had worn off.”

So what’s my opinion on the track? I’m glad you asked. I want to be straightforward before I give my opinion, that being the fact the Queen has been my favorite band for about eight years and the album this track is on, Queen II, is not only my favorite album by the band, but my favorite album of all time. That being said, I may be just the tiniest bit biased. 

This is a standout example of a Queen deepcut that shows the band’s pure talent and dedication to their art. The sheer amount of overdubs and multitracking on this track is more than enough to get lost in. To this day, I’m still noticing guitar fills and other little details mixed into the song. The use of multiple differently styled sections, dreary piano melodies, beautiful vocal harmonies, thundering drums that sound like a marching beat, evil sounding guitar solos that compliment lyrics about a malicious queen ruling over her people, and the grandiose nature of the track being the opus of the album it’s on. 

I love the medieval theme of this song as well as the rest of Queen’s first two albums. Although the lyrics may not be about one specific story, they paint a vast world of kingdoms and fairies and royalty and mythical creatures in the mind of the listener that’s always fun to interpret.

Overall, I think Queen’s earlier music is vastly different from the songs they are most known for, and is definitely worth a listen. 

I give this song 5/5 paws and definitely think that this song, and the album it’s on, is a good place to start if you want to hear another, heavier side of Queen’s vast catalog.