Alright…You Picked It! And this one wasn’t really that close. After the first five picks were one for each artist, the winner took the early lead and never looked back. The winner this month is Queensryche and their album ‘Rage for Order’ which was one that was in my collection. This one was never really that close. Queensryche had the lead from vote 1 and never lost it. Here are the results.
- Queensryche – ‘Rage for Order’ – 8 votes
- John Prine – ‘John Prine’ – 6 votes
- Triumph – ‘Allied Forces’ – 6 votes
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse – ‘Barn’ – 3 votes
- Shania Twain – ‘Come on Over’ – 1 Vote
Thanks to all for participating. The February choices will be up on Saturday!
QUEENSRYCHE – ‘RAGE FOR ORDER’:
I discovered Queensryche back in 1988 when they opened for Def Leppard. They were touring for the ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ album which I immediately purchased. As a result, I went back and tried to find more music by them and the next thing I picked up was ‘Rage for Order’. The album came out back on June 27, 1986 and was unlike anything else I had heard at the time. It was progressive metal and I am not sure what the hell was with their clothes and that hair. Woah! That hair. Was it glam? Was it Metal? I had no clue.
Their sound was heavy with dual guitars and sounded very metallic and utilized keyboards and digital technology way more than I would’ve expected. The themes of the music were both political and full of technological themes such as artificial intelligence and robotics. This was nothing like the sex, drugs and rock & roll I was used to with the 80’s rock bands at the time. It made the music enticing and more interesting than anything I was used to hearing.
The guitar work of Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton was astonishing, Eddie Jackson’s bass and Scott Rockenfield’s drums laid down a killer rhythm and there is no denying the vocal talent of Geoff Tate as hit notes that most mortal humans couldn’t hit even if kicked in the balls. Other musicians on the album were Neil Kernon on the keyboards and Bradley Doyle handled all the programming on the emulator. Neil also handled some of the engineering and mixing as well as producing the album. With this incredible cast of characters, they captured something unique and special and something that needs to be heard by all.
The album kicks off with a pure metal song “Walk in the Shadows”. It sounds crisp, metallic and Geoff Tate’s vocals and screams are unmatched by most. With the heart pounding beating of the drum to the wicked and killer guitar solo, you are taken on an artistic journey and not just guys showing how heavy the can sound. The song is infectious and will suck you in for the ride.
“I Dream in Infrared” is a slowed down tempo but not to the point of a ballad. The song sounds sad and Tate’s vocals are both haunting and mesmerizing. It seems to be about a computer dreaming or something technical. The song seems smart and has awesome groove with the keyboards adding texture and layers without being overpowering.
The next song easily makes me think Maiden with that opening riff. It is another rocking track and has some cool effects on the vocals with whispers in the chorus, thus the name “The Whisper”. Keyboards again are used sparingly and for effect and not to drive the song along or be the main focal point. The guitar harmonies of DeGarmo and Wilton are one of the many cool points of the song. Another stand out track.
“Gonna Get Close to You” is up next and is a cover of the Dalbello song written by Lisa Dalbello. The song is eerie, frightening and terrifying as it is about a guy stalking a woman. Musically it is dark and vocally Tate’s vocals are horrifyingly scary and the keyboards are used to make the song get darker. I love the little drum solo (or fills) towards the end, as they almost make you jump out of your skin. The guys hit it out of the park with this cover and for me, made the song their own.
“The Killing Words” is a keyboard based song mixed with the guitar riffs of DeGarmo and Wilton. It is as close to a ballad as you are going to get. It is another dark and sorrow-filled song. Tate’s vocals are layers upon layers giving it such a full sound in the chorus. However, the song for me is a little dull in the verses while the chorus is surprisingly nice. All-in-all though, not a real fan of this one.
The last song on side one is another heavy rocker with “Surgical Strike”. Rockenfield’s drums are immense throughout and Tate’s vocals are nuts as his range change on this one is crazy from a deep, evil low to as high as is humanly possible. The keyboards in the middle are really cool sounding and give the song a more dramatic effect. I would say this is straight up metal and will rock your ass off and a great way to end Side 1 so you immediately want to flip over to Side 2.
Side 2 kicks off with “Neue Regel” (which means New Rule or New Reign in German). There is so much going on with this song musically, it is filled with keyboards, guitars both electric and acoustic, drums, bass and everything but the kitchen sink. Tate’s vocals to start off are run through some electronic device to soften them and muddy them at the same time before his vocals explode out. There might be too much going on as I think they bit off too much on this one as I could get in to it as it seemed to have no direction. Too artsy I believe.
“Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)” takes us back to straight ahead metal and thankfully so. A song with Rebellion in the title needs to sound rebellious and this does that. Funny enough, this song could apply to today as much as it did back then. The anthemic chant of “We Are Rebellion” in the chorus is brilliant and is catchy enough for everyone to join in and get a little fire under their butt.
Now we get to one of my all-time favorite Queensryche songs with “London”. I love the opening riff which is probably all keyboard with a deep bass sound. The song is toned down a bit from the previous one to more of a power ballad take. Tate’s vocals are again so haunting as there is a woeful sorrow in his tone. On the bridge that builds to the chorus, it is explosive and the chants of “London” in the chorus are layers upon layers of vocals to give it a grand, almost epic feel and it succeeds especially after that dual guitar solo that rips and cuts right through you. Total brilliance on all fronts with this one. There are no delusions of grandeur here…it is pure grandeur.
“Screaming in Digital” is about technology taking over and the music captures the essence of that them perfectly as it is a very electronic/digital sounding song. And yet, it kicks massive ass with the power of the double kick drums that is followed by very electronic, metallic keyboards before the guitars coming racing in. The beats are liking a marching army unto the world ready for destruction and mayhem. It is such a unusual sounding song, but works on all fronts as you can’t help but get swept up in its majesty.
“I Will Remember” bleeds straight from the previous song and slows everything down to a very eerie vibe. It is the closing of our story and Tate’s vocals are almost moaning as they are drenched in sadness. It has a little “Silent Lucidity” feel to it or that song has a little “I Will Remember” vibe to it since this song came first. The guitars have an almost flamenco feel to them and are absolutely beautiful. It is unexpected path on this journey and I hate to see it end on such a tremendous catalog of songs that make up this album.
I really love this album if you couldn’t tell. There are only a couple hiccups but the grandness of the overall piece outweighs anything that is not up to par with the rest. Queensryche was always the thinking man metal band for me as there is always so much going on in the lyrics and one listen will not let you grab hold of everything that is happening in the story or in the music. They didn’t hit it big until their next album ‘Operation: Mindcrime’, but this was the start of something big and shows a band that was discovering what they could do and they could do it well. With the exception of those horrid outfits on the cover, this album is head & shoulders above most metal that came out back at this time. My Overall Score is a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars and if you haven’t heard this one before, you are missing out. Spend a little time with it and absorb the greatness that is within.