Queensryche’s debut EP got the band’s foot through the door and remains one of their most powerful efforts to date, but its ambitions seemed to suggest a youthful hunger rather than the grandeur that would come to define them later on. Fortunately, the band’s first full-length album was released just a year later and shows some dramatic evolution in the form of expanded sounds and an early attempt at a unifying concept.
While The Warning could still be classified as a heavy metal album overall, this is the first Queensryche album where progressive rock emerges as a truly prominent influence. The songs are longer, the structures are more complex, and tracks like “No Sanctuary” and the closing “Roads To Madness” drop the metal entirely in favor of Floyd-esque textures and building choruses. They even pair some operatic influences up with a Maiden style gallop on “En Force,” resulting the most glorious song that has ever appeared on a Queensryche album.
But even if the more metal tracks still have some odd quirks and tinges of prog in their deliveries, they still manage to quite memorable and occasionally as heavy as the EP. Aside from the previously mentioned “En Force,” “N.M. 156” and “Take Hold Of The Flame” serve as the album’s strongest highlights as the former combines tense vocals during the verses with a fast chorus while the latter serves as one of the band’s more theatrical singles. Also worth noting are “Before The Storm” for its strangely sequenced yet infectiously catchy vocal lines and “Child Of Fire,” which plays out like the successor to Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” before it goes off on another spacy tangent.
With all the various stylistic experimentations that dominate this album, its frequent risks pay off well and its biggest flaw has more to do with the flow of the overall work rather than its individual components. Much like how Sad Wings of Destiny had its sides switched around at some point, you can tell that The Warning’s track order is rather jumbled compared to its original vision as the title track gets things going in an awkward mid-tempo march where it was meant to start off in a frantic fashion courtesy of “N.M. 156.” Factor in the equally awkward sequencing on “Deliverance” and you have an album that screams to be moved around on your iTunes Playlist.
A few bumps in the road keep this from reaching the consistency of the EP, but there is no denying that Queensryche’s first full-length album offers a more thoroughly rewarding listening experience. Even the weakest songs on here are pretty far from being filler material and the sheer variety involved results in several powerful tracks that only get better with repeated listens. It’s still heavy enough to suggest as a good first purchase and fans of their most successful releases won’t be too out of their element here.
“Take Hold Of The Flame”
“Before The Storm”