without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
For me, this is the point when Queensrÿche’s career started getting very ropey. With The Warning being a rather premature artistic peak (it strikes me as a little unusual that they delivered such a mature, confident album as a debut), the band decided to play up their “thinking man’s metal” credentials in a very forced and obvious manner. Whereas The Warning was a stunningly realised piece, Rage for Order is an album that spends (read: wastes) a great deal of its running time with ‘clever’ little experiments. If Queensrÿche’s prior output was highly unique and certainly not your run-of-the-mill heavy metal, what with all its subtly progressive touches, then Rage for Order was an album that forsakes such subtlety and constantly reminds you of just how incredibly clever and adult it is. That’s right, this is the ‘rÿche’s descent into “adult contemporary metal” – that’s metal music that wears a suit, puts its hair in a pony tail and has a well-stocked wine cellar – and in making such a song and dance about flexing their artistic muscles, in a “look at all the funny little synths we have!” kinda way, they actually compromised a lot of the key elements which made their previous two releases so great.
Again, I can’t help but feel horribly let down with this album in comparison to The Warning. If the said debut was a rather polished affair then Rage for Order is just really slick to the point at which seems a little greasy. It’s got a lot of that same confidence but it seems like they just have a lot of misguided bravado as if they think they can try their hand at anything and pull it off. It’s pretty much “yuppie metal” and it spends a lot of time preening but never really breaks a sweat lest it come off as, you know, passionate. For me, it’s rather surprising how much this band did lose in comparatively short time (and with no major overhauls in the band’s line-up, that might have explained such a considerable drop in quality). However, not all is lost, the interplay between the two guitarists is still good (on the comparatively rare moments where they actually decide to let rip and show us that this is still supposedly a heavy metal band and not an AOR band with inexplicably heavy moments scattered here and there) and Geoff Tate’s vocal lines are still good. After all, he wouldn’t learn the fine art of being actively annoying until the band’s next bloated “masterpiece” Operation: Mindcrime (or “how we learnt how to write Big Dumb Hooks and lame concepts about Doctor Bad Guy and people called Nikki”)… so I can say, yes, Geoff’s still the main attraction here, even if he’s certainly not concerned about bringing anything as stirring as ‘Roads to Madness’ to the table.
I can only really say that there’s one track I genuinely enjoy on this album, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the album’s most direct number, ‘Walk in the Shadows’. It seems to be a forerunner to stuff like ‘Jet City Woman’, as it seems so obviously sleek and commercial. But let’s be fair, it’s still a good song, a pop song in metal clothing, perhaps, but still an effective number. Alas, it seems to be the well-known ruse of putting a direct, catchy song as an opener on an album that’s otherwise too busying spending its time hunched-over, red-in-the-face, furiously polishing those… ugh… “artistic guns” rather than worrying about, you know, good songwriting. But yeah, it’s got some catchy riffs, a spirited vocal performance and some real passion to it… things that are sorely missing from the rest of Rage for Order. Honestly, I feel like this album is full of wasted opportunities and missed chances and perhaps that’s somewhat appropriate given the amount of promise Queensrÿche showed early on in their career, only to squander it. Take ‘I Dream in Infra Red’ after an excellent intro, it settles into a rather dull ballad. It’s not an awful song by any stretch, but it really can’t stand up to ‘Take Hold of the Flame’ or ‘Lady in Black’ now, can it?
And yet, for some bizarre reason, Queensrÿche develop a keyboard fetish on this album… and it’s really rather annoying. It sounds like they wanted to make the most dated, garishly 1980s keyboard-driven AOR possible on ‘Gonna Get Close to You’ and ‘Screaming in Digital’ really doesn’t fair much better. Honestly, I can’t really fathom why they choose such an obnoxious keyboard sound, it sounds like a five-year-old dicking around on a £10 Casio model that he got for Christmas (this said child, would probably have the keyboard’s batteries taken out after his parents realised just how annoying cheap keyboards can be). For 1986, it’s very ‘contemporary’, just like shoulder pads, mullets and legwarmers, if you get me. Honestly, the tracks plagued by keys seem like excuses for the band to flaunt how they don’t need to write guitar-driven music. They’re different, get it!?
There’s a fair bit of debate as to where Queensrÿche started to suck and, for me, this is it. It’s not outright terrible for the most part. But why bother when this record is so frustratingly inconsistent and irritatingly ‘different’? They really did go from a very unique and excellent band, to a band who so hopelessly wanted to assert just how “intelligent”, “progressive” and “special” they were. This sort of stuff really does mean nothing to me. Maybe it’s worth hearing once or twice to hear just how Queensrÿche fucked up, but that's it as far as replay value goes. At least they burned so bright on those first two albums, and for that, I must say their career has often seemed like a frustrating waste of talent.