REVIEW: Queensryche – Rage For Order (remastered)

QUEENSRYCHE – Rage For Order (originally 1986, 2003 EMI remastered edition)

Every fan has their favourite Queensryche album.  Whether it be The Warning, MindcrimePromised Land or Empire, there are plenty of great albums in their back catalogue.  I used to seek the warm high of Promised Land when looking to chill with my favourite Queensryche.  Now I look for refuge in the cold, technological sheen of their 1986 album Rage For Order.

Rage For Order was a challenging album in its time and today it is still complex.  In 1986, fans questioned the gothy makeup and hair, not to mention the excessive samples and synths.  Today you can look back and almost call Rage For Order the first progressive industrial metal album.  It certainly has qualities from all three of those genres.  Geoff Tate beat Trent Reznor to the punch by years.  Rage seems to have a vague futuristic concept about a world of technology, revolution, and disconnection.

Although Rage For Order is certainly not an immediate listen, certain key tracks are commercial enough to keep you coming back.  The first is “Walk in the Shadows”, one of the few songs to be played live fairly consistently over the years.  “Walk in the Shadows” could pass as a hard rocking hit.  For the first time Queensryche really proved they were more than a simple metal band.  The slick production was completely different from their first two records, with the edge taken off the guitars and instead given to the computers and sequencers.  They give the whole album a precise, punchy tech sound that is its own form of heavy.  No wonder:  Dave “Rave” Ogilvie was an engineer.

A dense ballad called “I Dream in Infrared” has sorrow, but flowing through the veins of a computer.  Geoff Tate blows minds with his incredible voice and singing ability, layered for maximum effect.  In 1991 it was remixed acoustically for a single B-side, and that version is a bonus track on the remastered edition.  The original was perfect for what it was, but the acoustic mix is more accessible to outsiders.  It ends suddenly and the metallic guitars of “The Whisper” enter, accompanied by clock-like percussion.  Rage For Order has many songs with layered, overlapping vocals and you can hear that on the chorus.  It is a cold, sterile but powerful track.

The strangest song was actually the lead single, “Gonna Get Close to You”.  It was the only cover Queensryche ever put on one of their studio albums, a track by Canadian songstress Lisa DalBello.  In the hands of Geoff Tate, it becomes a creepy song of a stalker with a strangely rousing pre-chorus.  “You think I’m a fool or maybe some kind of lunatic?  You say I’m wasting my time but I know what to do with it.  It’s as plain as black and white.  I’m gonna get close to you.”  Cree-hee-eepy!  Which is the point.  The bizarre samples and synths only deepen the macabre.  DalBello’s original is perhaps even creepier, but Tate’s pompous bravado adds its own slant.  “If you knew my infinite charm, there’d be no reason to be so alarmed…”

As an added bonus, a 12″ extended version of “Gonna Get Close to You” is included in the bonus tracks, but like most extended versions from the 1980s, it’s very choppy and awkward.

Along with the technology, there is a theme of loneliness on Rage For Order, and “Gonna Get Close to You” plays into that.  “The Killing Words” contains more heartbreak on the album’s second ballad (third if you count “Gonna Get Close to You”).  Tate’s voice is drenched in pain.  A 1994 acoustic version from the “Bridge” CD single is included as a bonus track.

“Surgical Strike” is a brilliant track, fast and heavy, and working with the technology.  The lyrics are brilliant and quite prescient.

It’s lonely in the field,
that we send our fighters to wander.
They leave with minds of steel,
It’s their training solution.
We’ve programmed the way,
It leads us to Order.
There’s no turning back.

A Surgical Strike.
We’ve taught them not to feel.
performance is their task,
A Surgical Strike,
Its time is arriving now for you.

The plan for the day,
will be swift as the lightning they harness.
The atom display,
It’s not mindless illusion,
At master control, assessment will not,
Be by humans.
There’s no turning back…

It feels like this future is not very far off.

One of the most techy tracks is “Neue Regel”.  Clockwork percussion, strangely computerized lead vocals, and intelligently used samples paint a scene of a future battlefield, complete with bomb-like drum sounds.  The multi-layered chorus is one of Queensryche’s most perfect.  Respect to Geoff Tate.  When the man was at his peak, nobody could touch him, both vocally and as a songwriter.  Of course one must also remember the other side of the equation, which was guitarist Chris DeGarmo.  He has more songwriting credits on this album than Geoff Tate, including two solo credits (“The Whisper” and “I Will Remember”).

The future continues to look cold and dark on “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)”.  “Our religion is technology” is one line, and if only Tate knew how right he was!  There is a still a spark of hope and that is the young.  “Chemical Youth” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, and sonically very interesting too.  The next ballad “London” fades in with a synthy bass line.  Loneliness returns.  “There’s some things in life I could never face.  The worst is being alone.”

The technology slant hits its peak on the brilliant “Screaming in Digital”.  Describing this song can do it no justice.  It is like listening to Queensryche within the gleaming sterile walls of the dystopian sci-fi classic THX-1138.  There is far too much going on underneath it all to absorb in just a few listens.  You will hear new sounds you never noticed before even 30 years later.  Artificial intelligence has never rocked so heavy.

I am the beat of your pulse,
The computer word made flesh,
We are one you and I,
We are versions of the same,
When you can see what I feel,
Don’t turn your back on me,
Or you might find that your dreams,
Are only program cards.

Fucking chilling!

“Screaming in Digital” must be counted on any list of Queensryche’s best music.  It is sheer genius, far beyond what their hard rock peers were peddling.  It was also years ahead of its time.  By crossing digital techniques with heavy metal in such an intelligent way, Queensryche truly were breaking new ground.

“I Will Remember” is the final song, a ballad that seems to tie it all together.  It has the feel of a lonely ballad, while lyrically tying up the technology concept.  “And we wonder how machines can steal each other’s dreams.”  Another Queensryche classic, including a genius DeGarmo acoustic guitar solo.  Shades of the future “Silent Lucidity” too (also written by DeGarmo).

There are four bonus tracks including the three discussed above.  The last one is a 1991 live version of “Walk in the Shadows”, which appears to be a mix of two different performances judging by the credits.  Whatever the case may be, it’s cool to get a live version of this incredible song as a coda to the album.

Queensryche took the conceptual approach to its logical apex next time out with Operation: Mindcrime.  They ditched the technology and went back to guitars and even added an orchestra.  For that reason, Rage For Order is very unique in the collection.  It was a sound they have never repeated.  Operation: Mindcrime had a sequel, but Rage For Order never will.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

Advertisements

32 comments

  1. I’m not familiar with too much of the Queensryche discography, but I did notice that I do have something of theirs somewhere (can’t mind what it was now, but I certainly haven’t listened to it). This doesn’t sound like my cuppa, though… even though I’m kinda tempted to check it out on account of your praise!

    Like

  2. When the EP for Ryche came out in 83 I was all over it! So I bought all there stuff right through till Empire…
    They always changed up the sound from album to album and as a young dude in the mid 80s I found this one a bit of tough listen. I didn’t get it right away in what they were doing..
    86 was Roth/Halen/Priest/Maiden for my listening tastes so when I heard the Dalbello track i was like ?????….
    RFO wasn’t bad at all it was different metal like you mentioned….
    Funny enough it was around this time that i had a conversation at school during one of my classes one day that I can recall and it was about what band would last longer…
    Motley Crue or the Ryche…
    3 guys went with the Crue…I went with Ryche….
    3 guys laughed at me…
    I said the Crue put out a shoddy album (Theatre Of Pain)…even back in 86 as a 18 year old I could smell a turd….
    They squawked at me…
    Told them even though I’m confused by the look and sound of the Ryche at least there changing it up….
    They agreed and said Ryche still sucks ….
    Figured at that point i was dealing with Neanderthals in a musical sense!

    Funny enough back in around 92-93 I bumped into one of the three and I brought up this debate…
    We had a laugh and I said told ya so as Ryche had put out Promised Land and the Crue were imploding…..to point….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i totally hear you Deke … i had the original EP on cassette myself. Another one i actually heard before it came out like I heard songs off Kill Em All a year before …. good ol Midnight Metal Hour on q107 ;)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Here in TBAY radio sucked back than and still does…after not listening to the local radio for years once I switched into my new job last year a boombox was playing our local rock station (94 Fm) which is a good thing as at least it’s rock but i swear to god every 3-4 the same songs are played on certain days.. No change up …
        Better than nothing I suppose…..
        Q107 was known inTbay back in the 80s as the coolest station in Canada. Thats probably why I have always been an album guy as I had to buy what I wanted to hear as the shitty ass stations certainly wouldn’t….

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It almost seems comical comparing Ryche to Crue!

      I’m sure they lost some people especially with the image. I mean their image was NOT GOOD at this time. Tate looked like Bride of Frankenstein with the streaks in his hair. Rockenfield had this weird top that looked like armor plates. Just weird. Didn’t work. I bet the album would have been better received if their image didn’t go with it.

      Like

  3. One of my favorite reviews you have ever done here. Rage For Order is a different nut .. and probably the best nut in Queensryche’s collection in my opinion. Hard to deny Mindcrime for what it is … but there is soul and chaos on this album. I do want to point this out though

    I think it was actually the song NM 156 from Warning that was the diving board into this album. You voted for that song this year for SausageFest. To me … its like Rage is a bit of a sequel to that song itself … Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agreed. I listened to The Warning recently too. NM-156 isn’t as “techy” — doesn’t sound as dependant on samples and sequencers. But it definitely sounds like the start of the Rage For Order sound and even lyrically could have fit on the album flawlessly. A personal favourite.

      This album reminds me of a time when you’d wait for the new QR album and be blown away by whatever Geoff Tate was able to sing.

      Like

      1. Good point .. Tate was the benchmark for vocals at that time. His par in Hear N’ Aid was probably around Rage time ish? And I remember it being my highlight at the time. When Mindcrime came out it was even more with being amazed by his vocals. Empire was in my opinion the last album where his vocals were still on a shelf by itself … and even then it just wasnt as “amazing” anymore for whatever reason

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hear N’ Aid was the same year, 1986. You are correct.

          Mindcrime was just an amazing album period. I listened to it yesterday. Side two in particular just kills from start to finish and so did Geoff Tate. I think age just started hitting his voice like every other singer. I listened to Promised Land today. Still amazing…but more earthy.

          Like

  4. I haven’t heard this album in years! I remember the use of keys on the album but when I saw them live on tour for this album, I don’t remember any being used then. The Dalbello version of this song is interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A 5/5 speaks highly, indeed! Did I tell you a while back I found an original LP of this one for a friend of mine? It had some rubs, and someone had written in the corner of the cover, but he couldn’t have cared less, was thrilled to have it, in fact. Cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In the Dalbello original, the synth notes are used as the sound style of the chorus. In Ryche’s version, the synth is restrained, really exploding at the climactic verse around 2:30 in. When taken as in part with the album’s concept, it feels as if the cyberstalker is breaking into literal sonic “bits”. The sensation is simply too much for him and he’s falling apart. It was such a great touch to hold them back for effect and another sign that the band was sophisticated beyond their peers.

    Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Eric! Fantastic analysis there. And yes, absolutely sophisticated beyond their peers. I’d argue that there simply isn’t another album like Rage For Order out there, by anyone. Truly special.

      Like

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s