Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Queensryche - Rage For Order

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock, prog-rock
Label: Capitol
Year: 1986
Home: Washington

Members: Geoff Tate ~ vocals/keyboards
Chris DeGarmo, Michael Wilton ~ guitar/b. vocals
Eddie Jackson ~ bass/b. vocals
Scott Rockenfield ~ drums

Additional: Neil Kernon ~ keyboards
Bradley Doyle ~ emulator programming


Kerrang! rated this number 88 on the 100 greatest heavy metal albums of all time back in 1989, while allmusic.com calls it a cliched two star rehash of the glam that was on the scene. I think one gives it too much glory, while the other didn't listen to it. This may not be one of the greatest metal albums ever, but I'll proudly declare it a hidden gem in the Queensryche catalog. As for their worst? Even in comparison to their later successes, it's far from their worst. Albeit, I actually don't know what their worst album might be. But, certainly, with the success of "Silent Lucidity" everything they did before & after suddenly was given a new interpretation & without that hit allmusic might be more favorable to this release. As for being cliched ... only if you consider Savatage & Alice Cooper the standard for the sound of hair/glam metal! If Queensryche's early release Rage For Order has a weakness it's that its a transitional album. Even without hindsight its obvious that they're going in new directions. The directions aren't fully developed & that's also obvious, but they're trying hard & willing to make mistakes to see what works & what doesn't. The problem is that the experiments are not the head banging fist pumping thrash songs Queensryche entered the door with on their demo & second album, & fans expecting that are going to be disappointed as with this release as they're seemingly being left behind. But, yet some fist pumping songs are here ... slammed uncomfortably next to the experiments, giving the album a disjointed feeling. The album seems to go after two groups of fans, yet they're not with similiar tastes. All the old fans have to hang onto is some Iron Maiden-esque songs that aren't particularly anything glamorous & only survive because they are but filler (for example "Surgical Strike" & "Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)") next to the better experimental songs. What is becoming the focus of Queensryche's music is metal for those that like diversity & experimentation & might call themselves Dream Theater fans, for example, or Savatage fans. They want something more than the bump & grind rock. Though, its interesting to note that the band's later music is counted as prog-rock, while this is often labeled as full of theatrics. There's a thin dividing line there. & the only reason I would agree with theatrics, I think of theatrics in terms of Alice Cooper, is because the experiments rely heavily on singer Geoff Tate to bring them to that level not necessarily the music. This is Tate's album for sure, while the later albums would do better with the music than some bland guitar rock. There's actually two types of experiments, both firmly prog-rock & theatrical First there is the theatrics that really are akin to Alice Cooper because Tate pushes his voice in every unexpected way. The highlight "Gonna Get Close To You" is a song from inside an insane asylum, a similiar topic to Cooper's From The Inside even, opening with the Alice Cooper-esque line "I like to look at the shadows on the wall". It was originally done by Canadian artist Dalbello in 1984 & I'd love to hear her version. It's the experiment du jour & comes out of nowhere with Tate singing in true shock rock manner. It's a fascinating song that needs to be heard, but headbangers are going to be disappointed I believe. "The Killing Words" stays in a similiar mode for the introduction & verses, though the cliche hair metal chorus vocals hurt it. "Neu Regel" follows with synthesized vocals & keyboards & is an undeveloped experiment that shows the weak songwriting that is taking second tier to the experiments. While "Screaming In Digital" could be found on Billy Idol's Cyberpunk & would be so much better without an annoying dominating keyboard line, unmeshing with the bland guitar riffing. Tate is a great singer & is the key to the album & its fun to hear him experiment, but the bland riffing underneath is what hurts the songs, let alone the unwelcomed keyboards. As for the second experiment that appears - it's "Silent Lucidity" in the making. & I don't say that modestly, as there are a few songs that sound like a junior version of "Silent Lucidity", but just not with the heart-ripping emotional quality, something missing from the album on the whole. If someone said "I Will Remember" or "I Dream In Infrared" were combined two albums later & rewritten as "Silent Lucidity" I wouldn't be suprised. If all you know is "Silent Lucidity" then this album will disappoint your image that the song came out of nowhere & just was a freak masterpiece. Nothing is made in a vaccuum & Rage For Order is the missing puzzle piece. Again, though, what keeps these two songs from being "Silent Lucidity" is that the experimental parts are too unsettled & too vocally focused, while the songwriting too weak. Even for its faults I only found a couple songs on this album that I wanted to skip over & those were the Iron Maiden-esque typical rock songs. It might not be the masterpiece of the later Operation: Mindcrime or Empire but its far from a throwaway that some reviewers imply. Going back to their four song debut, three of those songs were straight ahead thrash, only to end with the mellow ballad "The Lady Wore Black". Most listeners probably thought that was the token ballad that every hair metal band would come to include. What a surprise, perhaps also to the band itself, that the token would become the norm. If it wasn't obvious in their first full length & first major label release The Warning that this was not going to be just another thrash band it is apparent here. Of course, every band seems to have an acoustic hit, but "Silent Lucidity" isn't a lone wolf. Queensryche is more than a one hit wonder but crafting strong albums that have kept them from falling the way many of their peers had. A lot of development went into creating their most famous song & here it is for Sherlock to pour throw.

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