a world has passed them by.
Too late to save a dream that's growing cold.
We realize that fate must hide its face
from those who try to see the distant signs of unforetold.
One Word Review: Portent
Warning: This album is addictive!
Queensrÿche's debut album has always been a favorite of mine and it has a place among their very best, coming in close behind Rage for Order and Operation: Mindcrime. The album doesn't conform to a single norm, but mixes various genres and ideas into something that is quite unique for its time. The special ambience, which the band would pressurize to perfection on Rage for Order is evident here and often shines through. It is a timid, sort of charged atmosphere that you can feel pressing down on you. It is hard to describe, but something is definitely hanging in the air, waiting.
Musically the album constantly challenging and inventive. Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton fill the songs with sharp guitar licks and play off each other extremely well. Eddie Jackson on bass is audible throughout and proves a fascinating focus point, while Rockenfield on drums keeps it all together with precision and skill. High class musicians all around. Geoff Tate's voice is at its prime, especially if you like his high notes. Who doesn't?
On one level "The Warning" is a powerful Heavy metal album that can be enjoyed as a straight ahead, in your face metallic attack. On another level it has the depth to suck you into a deep world of musical layers and lyrical metaphors that only unfold with patience and close listening. It all depends on how deep you want to go. One thing is certain, the music progresses with each listen and at the present time it is still hugely enjoyable, in a vintage sort of way.
A common theme running through the lyrics is the nightmarish vision of a future world, controlled and plagued by war and fear. This background is used to add extra strength to the songs that deal with personal issues. This works best in No Sanctuary and Take hold of the flame.
The title track has a rhythm that takes some getting used to. The song rises and falls all the way through. My favorite moment is probably the way the second guitar adds to the intensity as it enters the sound at the second verse. A spellbinding and different beginning to the album.
The tolling bells and dual guitar intro to En Force create a stark atmosphere. As an air siren fills the air at 1:00 I absentmindedly look out the window to see if Galten city is under attack, embarrassed I realize that it was just Geoff Tate and I got lost in the song again. The acoustic ending adds a certain sense of sadness which affects the whole album. There is a serious sci-fi atmosphere to this song. It is a rather interesting coincidence that "The Terminator" was released the same year.
Deliverance delivers a powerful punch right from the start. First the aggressive guitar opening, which is then surpassed by Geoff's agonized scream. From here on the song picks up speed and moves along swiftly, pausing only for a memorable chorus.
Through the album are scattered many small surprises that give a sense of not quite knowing what is going to happen next. Combined they add immensely to the overall impression. The ending to the first chorus of Deliverance is just one of these moments.
No Sanctuary is a superb ballad, carried by Geoff's varied and confident performance. He is able to add deep emotion to simple words that end up hitting me right in the stomach. A classic in search of peace.
N M 156 has been a favorite of mine since the first time I heard it. The computerized elements, the special percussion sound and the captivating chorus all make the song stand out. It is a unique and brilliant song with a seriously great guitar solo. Another one of those moments I mentioned earlier comes in the final chorus where Geoff twists the word "key" and makes it linger in the air in a special way. A small touch that makes a world of difference.
As Geoff starts singing the opening line of Take hold of the flame I feel a chill running down my spine. It is a moment that will get the attention and hold it. The song opens slowly with a special melody and emotion before releasing all its held back power in a high pitch scream and a powerful guitar riff that tears open the fabric of the song. Geoff Tate sings with a conviction that just forces the life affirming lyrics into your mind. There is no doubt anywhere in this song and it leaves the listener in no doubt of what direction to take.
Before the Storm and Child of Fire are the only two songs that don't quite match the level of the rest. I'm not sure what it is but they lack a certain something to really stand out. Before the Storm has the intensity and a special chorus, but the way the words "Before the storm" are repeated could have been incorporated better. Child of Fire is a good, in your face song but I don't find it as memorable as the rest. Reason unknown.
The 10 minute Roads to Madness serves both as a conclusion and the crowning achievement on the album. The first part of the song is lead by Geoff's rock solid voice. The way the word "Madness" is sung is a thing to behold. The momentum builds slowly to a highlight in the third chorus with a superb guitar solo leading the way. As the second part of the song commences an impassioned scream rips through the air and the song continues on to a breathless finish.
Elements of both Judas Priest, Rush and Iron Maiden are evident in the music, but the band takes inspirations like these and make them, not the base of the music, but add these influences as extra spice in their own style.
Comparing the 2003 remastered version of the album to the original there is no doubt that I prefer the sound on the original release. The real reason to invest in the remastered album is the added material. Three bonus tracks and the booklet, which has a well written introduction by Paul Suter, as well as lyrics for all the songs. For the fan it is definitely worth the purchase if you already have the original.
Intensity, melody and tantalizing guitar work keep the heart of this release pounding after all these years. It will appeal to nearly all lovers of challenging music and If you haven't heard "The Warning" yet, I urge you to check out a metal milestone.
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Take Hold Of The Flame
Take Hold Of The Flame