The Warning sleeve
1. The Warning
2. En force
3. Deliverance
4. No sanctuary
5. N M 156
6. Take hold of the flame
7. Before the storm
8. Child of fire
9. Roads to madness

Produced by James Guthrie
Mixed by Val Garay
Orchestration arranged and conducted by Michael Kamen

Recorded at Angel Recording, Audio International, Abbey Road Studios, Mayfair Recordings in London, England

Kerrang #77

NOT BAD guv, not too bad at all...

Alot of people have been waiting for this album, some I fear with boots raised to strike a blow against a band who have already achieved more than many of their competitors will manage during their entire careers. They might as well start kicking their own heels now, though, because 'The Warning' more than lives up to expectations despite the undignified rush that marked its completion.

Queensryche are definitely a Heavy Metal band, as opposed to iron-fisted hard rockers, but an Heavy Metal band far removed from the norm. Their approach is dramatic, even bombastic in places, but intensely melodic and coherent; sure, riffola is riffola but Queensryche's compositions encompass a whole lot more than merciless Metal might.

This is a proud album, exhibiting a maturity you wouldn't expect from a bunch of fresh-faced youths who look in the flesh like a handful of kids just escaped from the audience and on the verge of politely asking for an autograph (yours I suppose-Ed). Geoff Tate excepted, of course, but after his heroic vocal performance here, he's going to get asked for his autograph rather a lot...

Criticisms? Yes, I can manage a couple! For starters, in places the production and remix tend to fall over themselves somewhat, resulting in a temporary disruption in the flow of the material. And occasionally Geoff's intensely stylised vocals are a little much to get a rip on too - a quibble that may fade with familiarity I concede - but overall there's damn all to moan about.

The band's approach on the album is several steps on from the 'Queen Of The Reich' EP without disowning it, and one track in particular, 'No Sanctuary', marks the connection with particular emphasis. As a result, fans of the Queensryche we have already heard should be more than satisfied, whilst their numbers should increase markedly over the coming months.

It's a broad-based record, despite the typecasting that the track titles suggest. There's mucho Metal from the guitars of Chris de Garmo and Michael Wilton, whilst drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson stoke the furnace and Geoff Tate soars majestically above it all. It sounds like a recipe for another Judas Priest album, but boy oh boy, is it something else entirely...

It's a shade redundant to try and narrate the course of the tracks, since as often as not it's the subtle, indescribable nuances that give them their special character. But the consistently melodic overtones that mix with the band's burning power are the critical element that singles this five-piece out from the pack. Only on 'NM 156' does the whole concept get turned around to any substantial degree, the Metal power still coming through but playing a complementary role to the dangerous, tense delivery, culminating in an adrenalin-crazed guitar break that's several steps removed from Cliche City.

The album's epic is 'Roads To Madness', a lengthy piece that closes the record. Rising from a slow, dramatic opening, it takes some novel turns, moving from thoughtful gentility to high drama and then beyond in classical style, eventually reaching a furious, racing conclusion. There are more ideas contained in this one track than in the entire duration of most of the albums you'll hear this year.

'Take Hold Of The Flame' has to be the album's peak, though, a majestic Metal burn-up of colossal power built on a scorching riff from de Garmo and Wilton, with Tate pulling out some incredible vocals along the way. In fact, it's grade A Metal from beginning to end eventful and thoughtful rather than predictable and cliched.

I don't want to damn the record with extravagant praise, however, and should perhaps simply conclude that it's a damn good Metal album... but I can't help pointing out that there's something rather more here if you care to discover it. Of course, if you don't, fine... here's a damn good Metal album for you, my man...