written by Penelope Tritou & Giorgos Tsekas
Seattle born megatherium of prog/power metal Queensrÿche started as a promising band with their, legendary now, “Queen of the Reich” EP and the US Heavy/Power, heavily inspired by Priest and Maiden, debut “The Warning”. But it was their sophomore step that transformed the Heavy Power hopeful group that originally started in 1981 as The Mob, with a line-up consisting of guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield, to Prog pioneers as in June 20, 1986, came out via EMI Records the “Rage For Order” album.
36 years after, their look may seem cult or ahead of its time but back then made many people cringe. Too glam, too gothic, too vampire for the masses that probably made some of them to bypass the music. Queensrÿche some years later have admitted themselves that they made a serious mistake trying to change their image. But if you focus only on music you will come across a brilliant album made by thirsty artists that wanted to explore new things and dared to discover them. Truth to be told as musically brave Queensrÿche was back in 1986 they were equally commercially ambitious, having no hesitation to flirt with pop. The final result eventually gave birth to something progressive and alluring for the fans of mentally provocative metal.
Guitarist Chris DeGarmo, the main songwriter for the band back in the days does a great job with the lyrics (and song arrangements) in order to justify the mentally provocative characterization, by writing some of his significant smart, provoking, political, vivid, intelligent and why not, daring verses. DeGarmo told RIP magazine in October 1991: “This was about 20th-century youth, really; about living in the atomic age. ‘Chemical Youth’ was also a play on the technological/ecological aspect of the days we were living in at the time. It was a song about feeling rebellious. I don’t know if there was really a general theme to it. It was more like a hodgepodge of all these little sentences that made up a modern-day picture: ‘The leftist cry as the right subsides… hear me, the media mouth is open wide… success is our hunger, we need to feed.’ Classic Geoff Tate.” More criticism about some lyrics of the album can be found easily in the internet nowadays and show a lot about the album. “It’s kind of a call to arms, a call for unification, of throwing out the fencepost and borders that separate people and cause problems. Politics, religion, those things.” said Chris DeGarmo, in Sounds, in July 1986 about “Neue Regel” or speaking about “Walk in the Shadows”΄: “That was our delving into vampirism. “By day we’ll live in a dream / Walk with me, and we’ll walk in the shadows”. It’s talking about joining the dark side. This song is also about infatuation. It’s speaking to a woman: “You’re through with me, I’m not through with you / We’ve had what others might call love / You can’t stay away, you need me like I need you / When the fire starts, the pain’s too much for your mind.” We were all reading the Vampire Chronicles around that time. Our music has always had a sort of dark flavor to it. Even when we write a love song, it’s usually obsessive in nature”, again in RIP magazine, in October 1991.
Still besides the political verses, the artistic approach and the commercial hunting, you will find plenty of Heavy riffs and awesome choruses, as those in “Walk in the Shadows” and “The Whisper”, full of Maidenisque melodies and catchy tunes. The use of keyboards, acoustic and symphonic parts enriched the volume of the songs that also featured a tremendous performance by Tate. It was not only the mid paced nature of the songs that helped Tate to unfold his skills and talent. It was the whole mood and aura of the album that had a silent fury underneath the surface, as in its entirety “Rage For Order” is emotional and there’s a depth on a songwriting level.
Strangely, the band picked “Gonna Get Close to You” as the leading single; as also a video was filmed for it, that showed the band with eyeliners and glam customs. I used the word strangely as this is a cover on Dalbello. Lisa Dal Bello -born 22 May 1959- also known as Dalbello, is a Canadian recording artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and voice actress who had released three albums in the pop and pop/rock genre in her late teens, from 1977 through 1981 under her full name. In 1984, she re-emerged as Dalbello, with an edgier brand of alternative rock from her 1984 album “Whomanfoursays” and the song isn’t either the best of the album neither the most characteristic. Still it made some noise so it may be considered as success story after all. In any case, it’s an interesting dark and pleasant song. In an experimental environment tracks full of keyboards and spoken words like “Screaming In Digital” can breathe side by side with an epic song like “Neue Regel”, or “Surgical Strike” and “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)” which lack of something extraordinarily, but yet they are both very straight forward Heavy Metal pieces coming from the 80’s.
Slow and mid-paced tracks like “I Dream In Infrared”, “The Killing Words”, and one of the greatest moments of their career “London” unveiled the ability of Queensrÿche to write marvellous songs while at the same time transcending genres easily as it’s something natural and vital for their creativity. Neil Kernon’s production is crystal clear and rich, letting all band’s guns blazing, giving kudos not only to Tate that was probably in his prime but also DeGarmo and Wilton with their beautiful dual guitar harmonies.
Nevertheless “Rage For Order” was the proper forerunner to “Operation:Mindcrime”. Some would even see beyond that as the album closer “I Will Remember” sounds like the precursor to the “Empire” album, as it brings in mind the hit single “Silent Lucidity” that conquered MTV a couple of years later.
Personal Favourites: “I Dream In Infrared”, “Walk In the Shadows”, “The Whisper”, “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)” and “London”.
“That’s what the ‘Rage for Order’ title is concerned with. A need for some logic, some clear thinking, to bring people together without the chaos of different religious and political ideas.” Geoff Tate, Sounds, July 1986
“Rage for Order followed the theme of general order and chaos in the world. I guess ‘Operation…’ just takes things a stage further.” Chris DeGarmo, Raw, October 1988
- Walk in the Shadows (Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton) 3:34
- I Dream in Infrared (Tate, Wilton) 4:18
- The Whisper (DeGarmo) 3:36
- Gonna Get Close to You (Lisa Dalbello) 4:37
- The Killing Words (DeGarmo, Tate) 3:56
- Surgical Strike (DeGarmo, Wilton) 3:23
- Neue Regel (DeGarmo, Tate) 4:55
- Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion) (Tate, Wilton) 4:15
- London (DeGarmo, Tate, Wilton) 5:06
- Screaming in Digital (DeGarmo, Tate, Wilton) 3:37
- I Will Remember (DeGarmo) 4:25