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The Warning was the album with which Queensrÿche introduced themselves to the metal scene. Being a typical debut compared to their later work, it’s obvious that this album contains many influences from popular bands at that time such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, yet Queensrÿche manages to distinct themselves from those bands at the same time. Given that this album is probably the one that resembles the standard 80s metal the most of all Rÿche releases, this doesn’t make it one of the best, but certainly one worth checking out.
So, as a very first album, what does Queensrÿche sound like? A bit music like Iron Maiden and vocals like Rob Halford, but then they give their own twist to both, which is probably what made this album so notable. Geoff Tate indeed resembles Halford in vocal range, but has an entirely unique way of singing. His wailing voice contains so much emotion, especially in his younger years, and every time I hear it I get struck by it again. On this album he sometimes goes sky high and still keeps his voice balanced, like on “Roads to Madness” for example. Tate is truly the highlight of this album, with only one downside: he almost never uses his lower range vocals, which doesn’t have to be a downside, but sometimes I get the feeling he swallowed helium or so. He sounds like a siren at times. The other band members work great together as well, although it sometimes seems as if there is a strong reverb added to the music as a whole, and sometimes they tend to sound uninspired, like in the unnoted “Child of Fire”.
The music sounds a bit Maiden-influenced, as said before, but also on this area Queensrÿche manages to differ from the Brits. Where Maiden would go into galloping rhythms, Queensrÿche chooses an alternative, such as the staccato rhythms on “N M 156” or the powerchord-based accompaniment on “Deliverance”. Where Queensrÿche goes totally into their own sound, is for example on “En Force”. Both guitars are playing some licks on the background, which forms the unique riff, the drummer is playing wild with his double bass drums and the combination of this with Tate’s voice creates the early trademark Rÿche sound: energetic metal that is not very catchy at first, but it grows on you. Another difference you’ll find with early Iron Maiden is the appearance of power ballads on the album. “No Sanctuary” and the epic “Roads to Madness” for example both begin with arpeggiated chords as the intro and the verses, but explode into a powerful chorus, full of emotional vocals and epic riffs. “No Sanctuary” also features a gentle interlude instead of a solo, which adds a lot more to the suddenly returning chorus. The other, “Roads to Madness” will feature a very spectacular guitar solo, with the whole song speeding up at the end as a last treat. Furthermore, although the band is Maiden-influenced, it totally has its own sound. The arrangements, the way the drums accompany the riffs, the structure of the riffs, it’s all less catchy then Maiden, but after a few listens it easily beats Maiden riffs. That’s what Queensrÿche is all about, the band is a grower.
So, in fact we have a pretty good debut album here. With singer Geoff Tate as the primary attraction and good songwriting as a good backup, The Warning is well worth your money. The REAL treat, however, starts on their next album Rage for Order, where they have really adopted their own sounds. Still I’d highly recommend this to any fan of 80s metal or Queensrÿche.
Strongest tracks: “No Sanctuary”, “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Roads to Madness”.
Fillers: “Child of Fire” and “Before the Storm”.