Thursday, June 6, 2013

Queensryche Month, Part 3: Review of Rage For Order

Rage For Order has a rather odd position in Queensryche’s discography. The facts that it was their second full-length album and had the classic lineup at their peak make it an instant classic, yet it is also the first album that showcases several traits that would come to bite the band in the ass on later efforts. The resulting release is strong yet one that has also earned its black sheep reputation.

If there’s one thing that you can say about Rage For Order, it’s that it is one of those albums that only could’ve been made in the 80s. The band had been forced into a mismatched hair metal image, the production had more polish, keyboards are prominent on several songs, a few effects are thrown about to add to the drama, and they even snuck in a few ballads for good measure. These factors and more result in an intensely calculating tone that fits in quite well with its lyrical themes of technological paranoia.

Going along with that, the musical style is much harder to pin point compared to most of their efforts as it deals with a wide variety of influences. There is still a decent amount of metal influence as the band dynamic is still pretty guitar driven and the vocal delivery hasn’t changed much, but the appropriately titled “Surgical Strike” is the only track that ever feels like it could’ve been on the EP or The Warning. The prog ends up taking over in its place though there are also vague influences from post punk and glam among other things.

But when it comes down to it, the songwriting skill is what ultimately sets this album apart from the band’s future genre roulettes and even predicts the radio friendliness that would dominate its immediate successors. Just as songs like the opening “Walk In The Shadows” and “The Whisper” stand out for their upbeat injections, others like “I Dream In Infrared” and “I Will Remember” keep their heads above conventional balladry with their dreamlike atmosphere and sweeping vocals. In addition, tracks like “Neue Regal” and “London” provide some solid theatrics and “Screaming In Digital” remains the most intense song that the band has ever put out.

And while it may not be the strongest track on here, I do have to give some serious props to the cover of Dalbello’s “Gonna Get Close To You” that pops up towards the middle of the album. While the more active tempo and even more dramatic vocals may diminish the Nightmare Fuel that dominates the original version, the band’s skillful execution allows their version to fit the album’s overall vision and the retained paranoid tone keeps it from being another genre swap novelty.

While The Warning remains the strongest release of what I like to call the pre-Mindcrime trilogy, Rage For Order is the most interesting of the lot and just might be their most intriguing release to date. Despite the constant genre jumps and even further experimentation, the songwriting holds everything together and results in a number of classics that should please any fan of the band. The other releases from the band’s peak are easier to recommend to a newcomer but you won’t regret giving this one a chance.

Current Highlights:
“Walk In The Shadows”
“Gonna Get Close To You”
“Surgical Strike”
“Neue Regal”
“I Will Remember”

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