It was 1986. The United States was awash in the haze and corruption of the Reagan Administration. Technology was evolving, computers were becoming a personal thing, MTV ruled the airwaves, and people were dying in droves from a still as yet understood disease – AIDS. Across the world, metalheads were gathering in more and more numbers to headbang along to Metallica and Judas Priest, bending gender presentation with glam metal, and out of Seattle, a quintet led by a quiet guitar genius and an operatic frontman released one of the most underrated but powerful albums of the decade. And in the liner notes and soaring melodies of Rage for Order, Queensryche laid the groundwork for albums such as Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, and Promised Land.

After taking their place in the scene in 1983 with their self-titled Ep, Queensryche was quickly labeled the “thinking man’s metal group” and often forgotten about as the scene became flooded with garage anger and hair metal glam. They didn’t quite fit either scene – despite trying their best with hair teased to the atmosphere and pink spandex that is best forgotten about. While not taken seriously by the industry until after 1989’s Operation: Mindcrime smashed politics into everyone’s party, 1986’s Rage for Order was replete with anger and warning, mixed with a dark tone that blended progressive guitar and bass lines that inspired many a musician who is playing today.

Despite its reputation for being a genre that sings solely about Cherry Pie(s) and being Slippery when Wet, metal has long been a haven for commentary about the state of the political world. Queensryche has always found itself in that political state, moreso than many bands that rose to prominence during the 80s heyday of the genre. Rage For Order was rife with lyrical expectation and prophesy in songs such as Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion) and Screaming in Digital, which could (and possibly should) be anthems for today’s justifiably angry millennial revolutionaries.

Even songs such as the Dalbello cover Gonna Get Close to You, which is the weakest on the album, and the haunting concept Walk in the Shadows highlight the dark warning, the underbelly of the world at large. On the surface, the 80s were a time for pink sequins and teased hair, but underneath a country claiming to rise from the recession of the 70’s, there was a storm brewing. One that Queensryche is still addressing in its music, 30 years later.

The key to relevance is that it does not matter when a book was written or a song composed, the words hold true no matter what era it is being experienced in. With more than 30 years of helping to write the pages of metal history, Queensryche has proved that it is perhaps one of the most relevant bands to ever form.


– Shauna Brock (@vegawriters)

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