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Queensryche's best? Almost... - 98%

natrix, September 23rd, 2013

For me, it's always a toss up between Promised Land and the Warning for the best Queensryche album. Both are sublime and chock full of enticing melodies and subtle passages, but the Warning is just so much more metal. But this is by no means a loud album; the debut EP was in your face heavy metal, with blistering riffs. The Warning, like Promised Land, is a quiet album, in part due to its low volume and rather odd production, but I've always found Queensryche to be at their best when not being super heavy (although, they do that well too).

Here, the only real blistering riff you're going to find is on "NM 156," which is a a heavy, blues driven run that explodes into a gallop after the first verse. Even "Child of Fire," "Before the Storm" and "En Force" have a strong emotional drive to them, due to the minor chords and Geoff Tate's incredible expressive wail. Tate never hit the notes like he did on here again! Whether its a battle cry or the melancholy lines in "Roads of Madness," Tate pulls it off fucking flawlessly, and his phrasing is unique to say the least.

Scott Rockenfield's drumming is all over the place. I remember reading once that Paul Bostaph really likes this album in an old issue of Metal Maniacs (circa 1994), and you can definitely hear some resemblence in their drumming, especially the use of the ride cymbal and fills. Eddie Jackson really sounds like Steve Harris on here, and he's brought out in the mix. Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton are slightly buried, perhaps one purpose, and that's what keeps this album feeling "quiet," but their solos and clean guitars have room to breathe. The balladesque "No Sanctuary" and the anthemic "Take Hold of the Flame" really benefit from this, making the melodies instantly memorable. While there is no real flashy shredding, as on Mindcrime, the solos are standouts: you'll remember them as much as the choruses!

The whole album builds to the beautiful closing track, "Roads to Madness." That second riff is pure Sabbath, a doomy, down trodden riff that takes you somewhere empty and hopless. There are so many moods coming and going on this track, enhanced by an orchestra, that it is the definition of an "epic" track. Even Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" didn't work this well. And damn, are those some excellent solos on there.

The Warning is not, however, perferct. Comparisons to Iron Maiden are inenvitable when we consider the dual guitar interplay and more than a few of the riffs. Granted, even on their debut album Queensryche were throwing in some more challenging structures and riffs, The Warning really feels like some progressive NWOBHM album than what Queensryche is more known for. Maybe it was the fact that they recorded this in London, but there is a very, very strong European feeling to the whole thing.

Queensryche are not known for repeating themselves, and they certainly never came out with an album like the Warning again, as they developed their own syle. For what it is, the Warning is nothing short of a fantastic album.