Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986, which now shifts to the releases I didn’t discover until after 1986]
Album: RAGE FOR ORDER
Nearly a decade before the rise of the grunge scene in Seattle that stalled or ended the careers of many traditional heavy metal bands, Queensrÿche formed in nearby Bellevue, Washington to carry on that area’s proud rock & roll tradition that dated back to the ‘60s with Jimi Hendrix and the ‘70s with Heart. Emerging with a self-titled EP in 1983, it would be 5 years before they really made their mark (with Operation: Mindcrime) and another 2 before they had multi-platinum mainstream success. 1990’s Empire was where I first took notice of them, since I wasn’t really into the metal scene throughout most of the ‘80s, but I soon delved into their back catalog and discovered a lot of great music. The quintet of singer Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo & Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfeld proved early on that they were gifted & ambitious musicians/songwriters. Their second full-length release, Rage For Order, shows a band pushing musical boundaries. They weren’t quite the progressive-metal behemoth that they would soon become, but those progressive elements are on display throughout the album in the form of adventurous arrangements, questing lyrics and impressive instrumental chops. Also noteworthy for a mid-‘80s release, especially one that focuses on modern technology (the atmospheric ballad “I Dream In Infrared” and the pounding, synth-infused “Screaming In Digital” are just two examples), is the fact that it was recorded & mixed in analog, so it doesn’t have the tinny, digital sound that afflicted so many records of that era.
Album opener “Walk In The Shadows” combines the insistent rhythms & high-pitched vocals of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Dio with elements of Twisted Sister, most notably at the group-sung “walk with me.” The only single released from Rage For Order was “Gonna Get Close To You,” a cover of a song by the band Dalbello. It’s somewhat atypical for them and far from the most radio-friendly song here, but someone at their record label incorrectly thought the sparse arrangement, stomping beat, synths & sound effects, along with Tate singing in a lower register, were the keys to their success. In “Surgical Strike,” I love how it switches from the tom-tom heavy tribal rhythm to a more driving groove, as well as the thunderous guitar solo section. “London” is another great song with lots of dynamics, veering from quiet, haunting verses with subtle vocals to a more insistent (yet restrained) chorus with Tate’s voice soaring. Like much of the album, DeGarmo and Wilton showcase a melodic & flashy twin-guitar attack here. They close things out with the slow-building ballad “I Will Remember,” a precursor to their 1990 breakthrough, “Silent Lucidity.” There’s been a lot of drama in the world of Queensrÿche the last several years, which followed a steady decline in the quality of their releases (probably after DeGarmo left the band in 1998), all of which has diluted their reputation among fans & critics. However, just listen to the music they produced during their first decade and you’ll remember why they were so exciting…and successful. For the uninitiated, Rage For Order would be a great entry point into their catalog, still sounding fresh 30 years later.