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)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Queensryche ~ The Warning

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: heavy metal, prog rock
Label: EMI
Year: 1984
Home: Washington

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



Do not judge an album on the first few tracks! Or, do not judge this particular album on the first few tracks & toss it away away as uninteresting. I did & began to scribble notes for this review with the first song only to find myself walking away from the album with opposite feelings. Queensryche have two sides: a straight rock side with a NWOBHM feel & a very ambitious experimental side. Some fans prefer the rock, which was apparent in their four song indie debut. Others prefer the experimentalism which came forward in their third album Rage For Order & would be fully born with "Silent Lucidity". This album, while not truly their debut it's their first major label release & full length & many call this their debut & the four song EP a demo, but its a matter of interpretation, tries to find a middle ground & does so successfully. Many critics criticize the unfocused nature of what would follow this, Rage For Order, due to the experimental nature of many of the songs that hurt the cohesiveness of that album. They rate this earlier album far better. Listening to the first few songs I had the opposite view. This album opens with some straight ahead rock, akin to their debut/demo EP, that does little for me. No bite or individuality. Too safe after the shocks of Rage For Order. Geoff Tate is the miracle worker with his voice, but the material just isn't that interesting. I could not understand how this gets rated higher. Rage For Order has the rockers but it also has some amazing experimentalism ... so obviously, it just comes down to what the critic wants to hear. I don't want the old rabbit out of the hat trick but the new dragon out of the hat nobody has seen before & can't even imagine. I will agree that Rage For Order has a lack of focus, but entering into this album ... well, it might be called a warning but I didn't see anything to be warned about. How wrong I was. Or, how sweet it is? It's interesting to note that "Silent Lucidity" was not a fluke but was being developed through much trial & error from day one. So many bands have a unique hit song that comes out of nowhere & vanishes to nowhere, a fluke moment of creativity. Queensryche have shown a sustainment of their creativity that makes "Silent Lucidity" only a stop on the timeline not a bump in the road to live up to. Queensryche understood the game. They new they needed a certain sound to get listeners. That's what opens the albums. But, they also had a bigger vision. So, as the album progresses ... or once they've hopefully got your attention ... they start to really play the game & bring out the big hitters. & what hitters they are. It kicks into high gear with some wonderfully crafted songs including the ballad "Child Of Fire". Textures! Great lyrics! Now I know what I'm being warned against. "NM 156" foreshadows what would come next with distorted vocals singing a song about computers, much like "Gonna Get Close to You" on Rage For Order but not as ambitiously experimental. "Take Hold Of The Flame" is undoubtedly the highlight here, though its not really anything but metal with a NWOBHM feel, but it does it so well. "Before The Storm" & "Deliverance" come in second & third place. "Before The Storm" should be given a second chance by all listeners. The nine minute "Road To Madness" is Tate's vocal show-off moment. It holds together incredibly well. A nine minute song like this, at this point in time on the heavy metal timeline, plus on a debut, is a risk. It pays off & it shows the fans that this is not a band that is going to be predictible. When given a bigger budget, a moment to shine, they have a lot up their sleeve. They know their roots & they know where they'd like to go. They're going to give you rock that you know & then take you someplace you don't. When I first began listening to this album, as I said, I couldn't fathom why it rated higher than Rage For Order. I know understand. While that one has the flashy experimentalism it's almost too much. The Warning still plays it safe, the band is getting their footing. Then, they'd start galloping. Or, they'd take the approach of let's do it because we can, why not? Rage For Order shows the conflict between the two sides. Listening to the albums out of historical order was interesting. I heard creativity & got worried when it wasn't immediately apparent. Listening the other way one hears the creativity from day one then on day two get carried away. Thus, Rage For Order now indeed sounds like the transitional album that other music critics label it as. Though, it shows the band willing to take risks & see what pays off. Their future success would show the result & maybe if it wasn't for the gallop they might not have reached "Silent Lucidity" or Empire. Though, certainly, I now I prefer the experimental side of Queensryche over the straight ahead heavy metal side. If that was the only side they'd have I would be digging more & more into their catalog with interest. My appreciation of Queensryche keeps going up a notch.

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