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Chapter II: The Flame Rises

1984-1985Queensryche circa 1984-1985

Once Queensryche returned from supporting its debut EP, the band had plenty of material written for its first full-length record, The Warning. The band hooked up with noted Pink Floyd producer James Guthrie and recorded Queensryche's first album in London, England. Inspired lyrically by world events and George Orwell's "1984," the album showed a more progressive sound than the EP, while retaining Queensryche’s core heavy metal roots.

The recording sessions for The Warning also marked the beginning of Queensryche's relationship with the late composer Michael Kamen, who led the orchestration on the album. In addition, working with a high profile producer like Guthrie led to a number of surprise visits to the studio, including Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, and Jimmy Page - the latter being a huge thrill for guitarist Chris DeGarmo, a big fan of the Led Zeppelin guitarist.

Although recording its first full-length album was a milestone, Queensryche was initially disappointed in the final product. The Warning originally had a sequence where “NM 156” opened the record, with the title track preceding the closing epic, “Roads to Madness,” creating a circular listening experience. In addition, the band-approved final mix had the guitars more prevalent in the album’s sound. But as the band left for Japan in August 1984, EMI Records made a decision to change the sequencing so that “Warning” -- the record's first single -- was the album's opening track. The company also brought in Val Garay to remix The Warning before its release.

Upon receiving word of the changes, the band was “crushed” according to a former crew member. In an interview with The Breakdown Room in 2013, Wilton revealed the only documentation of the original sequence are cassette demo copies that he and some other members of Queensryche still possess. Wilton also indicated there are no plans to release the demos, although he plans to transfer them to a digital format before they oxidize due to age and become unlistenable.

The tour supporting The Warning had Queensryche on the road from August 1984 until July 1985, concluding with a number of headline appearances in California, where they would debut "Neue Regel," a song written on the road for the band's next album, Rage for Order. While primarily touring as an opening act (Queensryche again supported Dio, and also toured with Kiss and Iron Maiden, among others), a strong underground fanbase developed outside of Queensryche's Seattle home, leading to sporadic headline appearances during the year.

-- Brian Heaton

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