without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
While better than Iron Maiden's "Somewhere in Time" or Judas Priest's "Turbo" of the same year, Queensryche improve their playing techniques and experiment with sounds and textures rather than bother to improve upon their songwriting abilities on this follow up to "The Warning".
On the whole, it's pretty much more of the same but a bit better and more experimental - the same Priest/Maiden riffs, vocals and guitar lines are re-used, with snippets of Marillion, (Dio) Sabbath and Diamond Head. The songs themselves are utterly unmemorable - although razor sharp in execution and imaginative in detail.
This sharpness in execution and production, it must be remembered, was de-rigeur for most metal bands of this time - even the thrash metal bands were polishing up their acts, as evidenced by "Reign in Blood" and "Master of Puppets" - both infinitely more progressive in terms of songwriting and technique development, the latter being a fully-fledged Prog Metal album in all but acceptance by the Prog Metal crowd.
It's easy to hear all manner of details that still underpin Prog Metal in this album, however - from the drumming style, and "complex" rhythms deployed in tracks like "The Killing Words" - for while the album has a kind of samey quality to it all the way through, it does develop in terms of rhythmic and textural experimentation over the course of what is side 1 on the vinyl album - although someone should have told them that the keyboard "orchestra hit" sound has never been cool. Can anyone remember "Reflex" by Duran Duran?
Lyrically, this owes much to "Script for a Jester's Tear" in terms of the content - the subject matter mainly appears to be about failed relationships - but also to Priest and Maiden; "Gonna Get Close To You" reminds me of "Prowler" somewhat. However, there's a nice bit of computer paranoia in the last two songs - a touch of irony, perhaps, given the addition of a "computer" to the list of instruments...
One of the main problems with this album is the lack of any real harmonic development - everything hangs off a couple of chords and excessive use of what are known in musical circles as pedals - by which I don't mean the boxes made by Taurus, but a single held bass note over which music flows more or less freely. This technique lends a spacey feel to the music, and helps it feel "big", but ultimately prevents it from feeling dramatic or satisfying.
All these criticisms are merely to illustrate why this is not really progressive, despite the patina and the skill in execution; not to say that this is a bad album in any way.
On the contrary, it's well worth a listen for any metal fan - follow it up with "Stained Class", "Heaven and Hell" or "Script for a Jester's Tear", and compare real raw, unadulterated, progressive songwriting with what is essentially poor songwriting compensated for by technical exploration and experimentation, that makes for an intriguing listen a few times and a worthy place in the Prog Metal history books.
Stand out tracks "Neue Regel", "Screaming in Digital" (if you can ignore the lyrics...).