The Warning


EMI America, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When it comes to the early days of Queensryche, one common theme has played in my head: I don’t get it.

I know there was uniqueness to them thanks to the operatic qualities of vocalist Geoff Tate, but what allure the band seemed to have—at least in terms of their first two albums and debut EP—have eluded me all these years, despite how hard I’ve tried to wrap my head and ears around their work.

Their 1984 full-length release (and second overall), The Warning, is a slight step up from their self-titled EP and does have moments of promise hidden within its nine tracks. But, for the most part, it has the feel of the same old stuff they presented on Queensryche, albeit with a slightly more muddled sound thanks to the production of James Guthrie. (The overall sound of this album has been a sore point with the band since its release.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This disc gave Queensryche its first real taste of success in the track “Take Hold Of The Flame”—and I have to admit, it’s the best track on this disc, one that does give insight into the juggernaut that Queensryche would eventually become. If only there were more moments like this song on this album; it would potentially been a blockbuster.

Instead, we’re treated to tracks which seemed to build on the style featured on Queensryche, though the tempos are slowed down considerably. There aren't any tracks in the vein of “Queen Of The Reich”—too bad, ’cause they would have potentially improved the album. Instead, we get middle of the road tracks like “En Force,” “N M 156” and “Deliverance”—all of which show the technical precision Queensryche had in their music, but precious little of the soul or emotion.

Even epic tracks like the album’s nearly 10-minute closer “Roads To Madness” don't really have the power to hook the listener the way that later works like “I Don’t Believe In Love” or even “Silent Lucidity” would. You can’t fault the twin guitar attack of Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, or the rhythmic backbone of bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. Musically, they were en pointe, at least in terms of their precision. If only the music really moved the listener.

Wait a minute, you may say... this is heavy metal we’re talking about. Well, yes. Even a metal band could come up with a song that, through a combination of music, performance and lyrics, could capture one’s interest and evoke some kind of emotion or action. In this case, it’s almost as if The Warning lays out the songs like it was preparing a legal briefing: cut-to-the-chase, no-frills tracks that convey the message, but just don’t deliver on it.

Still, The Warning marks a slight improvement in Queensryche’s style (even if they all thought the production was pure horseshit). “Take Hold Of The Flame” demonstrates there was something to the band that was worth paying attention to; we just needed more moments like that.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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