I bought “Operation: Mindcrime” on cassette when I was 13 and I remember being absolutely spellbound by it. So, a few months later while in a record store I eyed “The Warning” and immediately bought it with my hard-earned allowance money. Of course, I expected another Mindcrime…I was pleasantly mistaken. I’m 28 now and just picked up the remastered CD version of “The Warning” a few weeks ago. I am still surprised at the freshness and youthfulness of the music after all these years.
Geoff Tate has been one of my favorite metal vocalists for many years. Famed for his voice’s operatic texture and a range about a mile wide, he doesn’t disappoint here. My favorite aspect of “The Warning”’s vocals is the lyrical phrasing. The actual rythmn of the words takes you on a roller coaster-like journey through the album. Tate’s word choice on this album is also sharp and intelligent, using “50 cent words” without sounding melodramatic or overdone.
The guitars of Wilton and DeGarmo compliment each other well, both taking turns shredding on every track. I seem to notice Eddie Jackson’s bass more distinctively on this remastered edition (which is a plus). Rockenfield’s drumwork is practically flawless in keeping time and tends to throw the listener a few rythmic curves every once in a while (to see if you’re really paying attention!).
Without sounding too critical, “The Warning” is probably not what a neophyte Queensryche listener should start off with. This is due mainly to the fact that this album is not radio-friendly, even though I think I remember hearing “Take Hold of the Flame” on rock radio a few times. Try the two classics: “Operation Mindcrime” and “Empire”; then move to “Rage for Order” and “The Warning”.
Progressive metal fans will like this album because it sometimes has hints of early Fates Warning (John Arch era). Though “The Warning” is purely original, one can feel a strong Iron Maiden influence in the music.
Choice cuts are “Deliverance”, “Take Hold of the Flame”, “Before the Storm”, and the 9+ minute epic “Roads to Madness”. The extra tracks on the remastered edition are filler at best – I usually stop the CD after “Roads to Madness”.
P.S. The band’s photo for the album (on the inside cover of the remastered edition) is one of the coolest (and yes, cheesiest) photos in heavy metal. I’m diggin’ the all-black leather and eerie green mist motif!