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Queensr˙che - Rage For Order CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.00 | 321 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Prog Metal's First Dramatic Fire

Prior to Rage for Order, several bands, Queensryche chief among them, had been dabbling in adding progressive elements into metal. But the moment that prog metal truly arrived was 1986 upon turning this LP or cassette over for side 2. The first song on that side, Neue Regel, is pure prog. Combining syncopated time acoustics, seamless transitions between quite distinct sections, intense effected vocals, and composed riffs designed in conjunction with the song, this piece announced that the band was going to jump into a new sound head first.

The style of composition is something that Queensryche did better in the late 80's than virtually anyone in metal has ever done. Unlike the majority of metal (including most prog metal and this band's debut EP), the riffs did not come first, with vocals added over the top. The multiple parts of the song clearly evolved together, with melodic themes obviously in mind, and rhythmic interplay essential for the composition. While the rhythms are rarely in complex time signature, the members set up polyrhythms between their parts that are the heart of progressive playing. Tate had managed to do this once on the EP, a little more on Warning, but here is when the style blossoms. Guitarists Chris Degarmo and Michael Wilton's leads are also clearly composed for the song here, an element that becomes their signature, and something that has evolved from the trade-off improvisation punctuated by parallel harmony leads typical of NWOBHM.

Side 2 of Rage for Order also contains Screaming in Digital, which is a virtual prototype for Pain of Salvation's masterpiece The Perfect Element. While PoS again have evolved the complexity to some degree, Geoff Tate's unmatched voice pulls off the theatrics much better. Keyboards play a much larger role in this album, again courtesy of Tate. But instead of smoothing the rough edges as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest did around the same time period (Maiden as a nice addition to their stock sound on Somewhere in Time, Priest as a commerciality grab on Turbo) the keys add darkness, thickness, and a new layer of complexity to an already complex music.

Unlike Dream Theater, who draws more on the then very popular shredder movement (led by Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai and their gazillion imitators including John Pertucci), Queensryche based their evolution by incorporating Rush and Pink Floyd into their metal. Their progressiveness is, like Devin Townsend's, vertical / harmonic, deriving from layering and composition, rather than horizontal / melodic which defines the complexity of the majority of the Dream Theater school.

Rage for Order also fixed Queensryche's perennial problem of getting mired in mid-tempo, sometimes dragging, drama for way too long. Several songs here are driving, on top of the beat rockers which offset the slower sections extremely well. At the same time, side 2's slow burners "London" and "I Will Remember" (perhaps the best Queensryche ballad of all time) still move well displaying the bands much improved songwriting skills.

Two final elements must be mentioned and are sometimes ignored. The extreme importance of harmony vocals in Queensryche's music often gets forgotten because of the power of Tate's lead voice. And yet, without the vocal interaction (which on record is a combination of Tate and Degarmo but which Degarmo pulls off perfectly live) the songs would be missing an essential element. Also, the much improved and composed drumming of Scott Rockenfield is starting to demand attention on this album, and is absolutely essential on the following album of the decade, Operation: Mindcrime.

Side 1 contains more standard melodic power metal, though improved, that had been the basis for Queensryche's previous album the Warning. The opener, Walk in the Shadows, is straight ahead metal where Tate evokes Ronnie James Dio to good effect. The Whisper is a middle eastern tinged piece that is very much reminiscent of Maiden's Powerslave. At the same time, already the prog is finding its way in on the eerie cover Gonna Get Close to You which uses the mechanical rhythms introduced on Warning's NM 156 and also on display later on Rage for Order.

Rage for Order is, in my opinion, the first true prog metal album. That alone earns it high marks, but the great songwriting, stunning performances, and perfect pacing push it near the top. The fact the Queensryche bests this album on their next effort does not diminish from the fact that this is an excellent piece of prog metal.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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