QUEENSRŸCHE – Operation: Mindcrime II

QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime II


Release date: April 4, 2006

Run Time: 59+ minutes
Total Tracks: 17

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In 1988, Hair Metal and the Power Ballad had established a firm grip on the music industry, and sex, drugs, and sleaze ‘n’ roll was prevalent both in the airwaves and on the music video scene. Metal was enjoying rampant global popularity in spite of itself … and a “standard formula” for success in the genre had developed that involved androgynous lead singers, ephemeral lyrics, over-the-top stage visual effects, and bulbous-breasted hotties lurking in the shadows at every turn. It was in this same year that Queensrÿche released Operation: Mindcrime, the antithesis of those 1988 Metal trends, delving topically into the then-ignored realities of corruption, personal conflict, and societal disintegration … masterfully woven together into a concept album, yet filled with remarkably catchy songs — a strong handful, in fact, making their way into many radio stations’ playlists.

An argument can even be loosely made that Operation: Mindcrime was divinely inspired … after all, the premises for the plot of Mindcrime’s story hit Geoff Tate like a ton of bricks during a serene state of meditation whilst soaking in the ambience of a Catholic Church in Montreal, Canada. The result: A timeless, Progressive Metal masterpiece that has been the continual reference point since 1988 by which to judge other conceptual albums.

So now, 18 years later, Geoff Tate and Queensrÿche, sans founding member Chris DeGarmo, have decided the time is right to take another crack at it and finish out the story line via the release of Operation: Mindcrime II. The inspiration found this time by Tate was essentially driven by the destructive “me first” attitude prevalent in modern-day society, filled with on-the-spot personal gratification, countless immediate entertainment fixes, lack of awareness and resources towards “the arts,” and incessant media manipulation of “the truth.”

The story line picks up with the main character, Nikki, being released after 18 years in prison amid the eerie processional intro tracks “Freiheit Ouverture” and “Convict,” now ready to soak up his newfound freedom, as demonstrated by the song “I’m American.” Topically, the lyrics offer a nice synopsis of Tate’s view of what’s wrong with American society today. Simply put, “… Because I’m free / I deserve everything I can get …” – damn the torpedoes … you’re entitled to the “good life” at the expense of anyone who gets in your way. The plot of this new story begins to take shape in “One Foot In Hell,” when Nikki begins to fixate on the need for revenge, and Dr. X, having now created huge wealth for himself (played by none other than Ronnie James Dio in the track “The Chase”), is Nikki’s primary focus. Amid continuous soul-searching and mental turmoil, Nikki’s infatuation for revenge eventually causes him to make his way towards an epic confrontation with Dr. X, and in the mix of all of this, the killer of Sister Mary is made known. The rest of the story line deals largely with Nikki battling his inner demons, with the voice Sister Mary (Pamela Moor) nudging him along and/or serving as his resisted conscience. Eventually, Nikki comes to realize that the joys of life had been available to him all of the time, and could not be found in cheap highs, power/wealth, and revenge.

As you should be able to tell by now, similar to Operation: Mindcrime, Tate and Queensrÿche, from a story-line perspective, have covered all of the bases and put together a remarkably well-thought out piece of Progressive art via Mindcrime II. The logical thought process in your mind at this point may rightly be, “Yeah, sounds great on paper, but was Queensrÿche able to recapture that musical magic of yesteryear in this Mindcrime sequel?” The unequivocal answer is … yes and no.

One thing that over-starches Tate’s boxer briefs is society’s short attention span, and the drive for continuous and varied superficial entertainment. It’s pretty clear that this societal deficiency played a role in the composition of Mindcrime II from a structural and musical standpoint. Indeed, this album was written with the intent of looping in the listener and causing him to stay on board for the duration of the album. Operation: Mindcrime had many songs that could be carved out of the album and were able to stand on their own without knowing the full plot of the story. Other than perhaps “The Hands,” the songs on Mindcrime II just don’t fit that mold … but that most definitely doesn’t mean that these songs are sub par … nope, not even close. Rather, the craftsmanship of each song is excellent, and the musicianship (especially Ed Jackson on bass) is very strong as well. After multiple spins of this release, though, you get the feel that the album was really written with the eventual stage production in mind, and the intent of creating an album that would be warmly embraced by radio stations across the lands never came into play.

In the end, what Tate and Queensrÿche have produced is a remarkably entertaining album with a totally different, if not “more mature,” direction than its predecessor. Though all songs have their place and artistic merits, notable highlights certainly include the radio-worthy “The Hands,” the inclusion of Dio stretching his outer limits as Dr. X in “The Chase,” the great bass line by Jackson in “Hostage,” and the presence of Pamela Moor in the latter tracks of the album.

Operation: Mindcrime sold well in excess of 1,000,000 copies over its 18-year existence. Each and every person who is a fan of that album should also pick up a copy of Mindcrime II, along with anyone who enjoys well thought out Progressive Metal/Hard Rock with unique artistic flair. Additionally, if not as important, be sure to check out Queensrÿche on tour this year, as the band plans to perform both Mindcrime albums in their entirety … for anyone who was fortunate enough to catch 2005’s tour, where Operation: Mindcrime was performed as part of the band’s 2nd set, you know what potential this year’s expanded tour indeed holds!

You can listen to Metal Express Radio’s interview with Geoff Tate here!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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