By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
[WRITER’S NOTE: Geoff Tate will be performing the entire Rage for Order and Empire albums when he plays a sold-out show at The Vault Music Hall & Pub in New Bedford, MA on Tuesday March 3rd, 2020.]
QUEENSRYCHE – RAGE FOR ORDER (1986)
If you are like me and agree with the notion that the Queensryche album Operation:mindcrime is the band’s magnum opus, then I think it is probably a pretty good bet that you might also agree that the band’s 2nd full-length album (and third overall release) Rage For Order is the thematic precursor to that anarchy driven tale of conspiracy and death.
I didn’t own this album prior to getting Operation:mindcrime as a Christmas gift, but I obviously went back and snapped up all the band’s previous releases once my fandom was given full reign.
Rage For Order is not an actual concept album but it isn’t hard to notice the similarity each song has. If you have any kind of imagination, you can see this album as a kind of dystopian science fiction story where technology has won and the government rules over all…sound familiar anyone?
Regardless of how true the stories behind the songs might feel these days, in 1986 this had to be a real burst of creativity for the band because the album holds up so well now. A lot of these songs became staples for the band and remain incredible recordings even now.
The album opens with “Walk In The Shadows” which from the get-go shows the band in their most attacking metallic light. This is a style that pretty much threads its way on most of the eleven songs. While the band is usually portrayed as “the thinking man’s metal band” because of their lack of sex, drugs and rock and roll lyrics, they had no trouble making the metal here. This is demonstrated amply of Side One with songs like “I Dream In Infrared”, “The Whisper” and the incredibly balls out rocking “Surgical Strike”.
The band was never really known for doing many cover songs but their cover of the Dalbello song “Gonna Get Close To You” was a bit intriguing. I am not completely sure I am remembering this correctly but I think the song was not all that well received when it was released as a single. I know I didn’t hate it when I first heard it but I still don’t consider it one of their best songs. It’s okay but that’s about it. That being said, it certainly does tie in thematically with the rest of the material.
When I first heard Rage For Order, I was still at the age where I labored under the delusion that I was a rebel against the world. While time has revealed that I was more rebel without a clue than anything else, the opening two songs on Side Two of the album fueled those delusions. “Neue Regel” (which is German from New Rule or New Reign”, according to Google translate) and “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)” might not stand up as great representations of who I thought I was at the time, but they are great songs regardless. I still get a crackle of electricity running through me during the line “If we don’t stand together, we stand to lose the future” in the latter song. Again, the lyrics are incredibly accurate for modern day it would seem.
On “London”, the music moves a bit slower but Geoff Tate’s emotional vocal take is superb on the song and when the backing vocals come in during the chorus, the song takes on a bigger sense of grandeur to me.
Of course, then you have “Screaming In Digital” which to me plays like the concluding chapter to the story that plays in my head as I listen to the album. And it is one of the band’s best songs in my opinion. Just a killer collaboration between each member of the band to elevate the song into something that will be long remembered.
However, that’s not the end of the album. No, there’s “I Will Remember” which plays as kind of a post-script to the story and while it moves in a much more deliberate fashion than the more hard driving nature of most of the other material on the album, it brings things to a close quite perfectly.
As I said in the beginning, Rage For Order does seem to be a kind of thematic predecessor to Operation:mindcrime even if it isn’t a direct line concept album itself. Think about it, this album closes with “I Will Remember” while Operation:mindcrime opens with “I Remember Now”!
It is perfectly possible that I’m putting way too much thought into the motivations, meanings and themes behind the album but what I do know is that Rage For Order was a stunningly creative venture for the band and it raised their profile at the time and provided the launch pad for what was to come with their next album. So when Geoff Tate steps on stage at The Vault Music Hall on March 3, 2020, I will be hyped up with anticipation to screaming my affirmation for the album…in digital or otherwise!
NOTES OF INTEREST: How much do I love this album? It is one of those rare albums that I own on vinyl, cassette and CD. In fact, I have the original CD release and the 2003 remastered edition from the Revolution Calling boxed set that has four bonus tracks included.
What I didn’t know is that there are two demos out there from the time this album was recorded that I want to hear now. The songs were called “From The Dark Side” and “The Dream”. I don’t know if they’ve ever gotten any kind of official release.
The band recorded at title track for the Rage For Order album but it was never used. According to the Wikipedia entry for the album, the main riff eventually became the Operation:mindcrime track “Anarchy-X”.