Queensryche: Rage for Order (1984)
Ask a Queensryche fan which album is her or her favorite, and more often than not, Rage for Order is the one they pick. This occurs for varying reasons, of course, but to my mind the album is singular because it was so far ahead of its time. Released long before Queensryche became the recognized name that dominated charts during the Empire years, Rage predates even the oft sited Operation Mindcrime release. Having recently spoken with Geoff Tate in an interview, I learned that RFO was the first recording in which the band felt like they had really found themselves.
The interesting thing about this stage of Queensryche’s career is the degree of experimentation they undertook. One can easily hear industrial influences on RFO in such tracks as “Screaming in Digital” and “Neu Regal.” The album even includes a cover: “Gonna Get Close to You,” which is something the band hasn’t repeated on any studio releases since. There are, surely, straight ahead rock tunes, such as the one song that got a semblance of radio play: “Walk in the Shadows.” But beyond these tunes, consider “London,” a rendering of the Jack the Ripper story, or “I Dream in Infrared.” Here the group writes with an expressive languor not often found on metal albums.
Indeed, RFO became something of a delineating moment for the group. Despite the fact that Mindcrime is a seminal metal album, it is just as easily categorized as rock opera or even art rock for the conception and cohesion of the story as it is married to the music. Certainly, these things are not mutually exclusive. But it illustrates my point that RFO is the album in which Queensryche begins to differentiate themselves from the pack. And they’ve been doing it ever since, refusing to repeat the sound or direction of each successive album.
In addition, each Queensryche member begins to come into a fullness of his craft on Rage. The most obvious example if Tate, where we see him really blossom as a vocalist, showing his own distinctive style in a way we hadn’t seen before. Along with this, the song writing evidences the growth of the group in not just the variety, as I mentioned above, but the strength of compositional elements. For on this album there is less of a tendency for instrumentation to vie with either the lead vocals or itself in conveying the power of the song.
The entire effort is rounded out by a remarkable tune entitled: “I Will Remember.” The several strengths of the group are audible in this slower more thoughtful song, which again shows the development of the band. Clearly, this record was a precursor to the phenomenal success the band would later achieve. The only misfortune in it is that if this album had come out several years later, or even now, I suspect it would yield sales far surpassing those that it made all these years ago. Still, it is a necessary component of any serious rock, metal, progressive . . . music fan.