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Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime II

Do you remember how it started? Do you remember that he was only doing what they told him? Well a full 18 years have passed and Nikki has returned to give us the second chapter to his tale which began in the classic "Operation: Mindcrime". A lot of their original fans might lambaste Queensryche for choosing to revisit the themes of their most popular release but since so many years have gone by there is an entirely new audience available to their music. I admit at first I was one of the detractors who screamed "How could they do this", fearing that the original release and its premise would suffer as a result but after a couple of listens I am happy to report that I was wrong. "Operation: Mindcrime II" picks up almost two decades later as Nikki now out of prison goes seeking revenge on the man who both put him there and was the cause of all his problems in the first place. The mysterious Doctor X. appears on the album in the form of the legendary Ronnie James Dio but his talents are sorely under utilized. He appears in only one song and could have been effective at least in dialogue in other areas of the album. Pamela Moore returns as Sister Mary (whether in his mind or in spirit I have not determined yet) and she shines on a number of tracks. After so many listens to Ms. Moore as this character I am interested in hearing her solo work. Tate is once again on top of his game proving that his pipes are still able to deliver even after over 20 years in the business. I also found the band to be above par and playing the best that I have heard them do in a number of years. Guitarist Mike Stone seems to have really stepped up for this release and is no longer relegated to the shadows left by Chris DeGarmo who left the band a number of years ago. As one might expect, members Rockenfield, Wilton and Jackson do not disappoint at all.

As you listen to the album you will find a very mature Queensryche delivering a very mature piece of music. It is by no means the Prog-Metal record that the original was yet is more a Progressive Rock piece with subtlety and creative edges at numerous corners. While touring with Judas Priest in 2005 the band teased fans with "I'm American", and this track appealed to me now in its finished form more than its teaser did for those shows. I expect this to be a fan favorite as well. "One Foot In Hell" has a classic Queensryche big vocal to it and shows some tastes from the original however there is not a lot of similarity to the first Mindcrime anywhere if you ask me. However, this is not a problem for the record stands strong on its own with the use of the characterization alone as they introduce new music based on a familiar back story. "The Chase" is where we find Mr. Dio and Mr. Tate coming head to head while "If I Could Change It All" finds the central character reflecting on the whole situation. The listener is treated to an enormous booklet with the story lined out for you to better absorb. The duet closer of "All The Promises" with Geoff and Pamela makes for a very powerful end based on its lyrical content.

So is this album on a par with or better than the original? It certainly is not better than the first chapter but that was released in a different time and a different world of music altogether. Queensryche as well as most of us were far different back then and today we find the band as elder statesman to the form who no longer needs to prove anything. They can prove to listeners new and old that they are far from dated and are still very relevant. I can safely recommend this album for people who want a solid rock album that has a lot of thought placed into it but recommend that for Operation: Mindcrime II that you give it two or three listens in order to appreciate it better.

So does Nikki get his revenge? Well, that would be telling wouldn't it? Maybe you should find out for yourself.

Track Listing
1. Freiheit Ouverture
2. Convict
3. I'm American
4. One Foot In Hell
5. Hostage
6. The Hands
7. Speed Of Light
8. Signs Say Go
9. Re-Arrange You
10. The Chase
11. Murderer?
12. Circles
13. If I Could Change It All
14. An Intentional Confrontation
15. A Junkie's Blues
16. Fear City Slide
17. All The Promises

Added: April 25th 2006
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4363
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime II
Posted by Keith Hannaleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-04-25 05:33:21
My Score:

Queensryche has done the unthinkable and released the sequel to Operation Mindcrime, the 80's metal-prog classic that made them legends. Operation Mindcrime II was a big chance to take. Regardless of the risk involved, they forged ahead anyway and it turned out very well. This release will help to add to the band's legacy and certainly stir up some interest in previous recordings. I love it when a band has enough balls to do something that everyone says will not work and then it works.

The storyline picks up where it left off and finalizes, well almost, everything some 20 years later. I have been following this band for a few years now and listened to the remastered back catalog and can say with certainty that they are rocking harder on this release than they ever have. With steady touring year after year and a consistent lineup with minimal changes, Queensryche has managed to stay on top of their game and release one of the best albums of their long and successful career.

There is tons of energy on this album along with the usual pounding rhythm section and heavy metal guitars ripping away on nearly every track. There are also some special guests; Ronnie James Dio provides his legendary vocals to "The Chase," helping Geoff Tate make it an instant Queensryche classic. There are two female voices in the mix as well, Pamela Moor and Tate's daughter Miranda. They both do an excellent job adding some taste and emotion to the storyline and music.

Progressive Metal does not get much better than this, Queensryche is hot as a pistol right now, and putting out an album like this will more than likely pull in an entirely new legion of fans, continually adding to their legacy and making their fan base one of the largest in the genre. These guys are the old masters now, not too many bands are as tight and have the following that they do. Is this where the story ends now? Will there be a number 3 someday? You just never know…

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime II
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-04-19 09:10:39
My Score:

The saga of Nikki continues on Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime II, the long awaited sequel to the smash 1988 classic prog-metal concept album. Long awaited by the fans, but until a year or so ago a project that the band never intended to initiate. The story continues as Nikki, who has been in prison for 18 years, and is now free to gain revenge on those who put him in there.

Most album sequels fail to work as successfully as the first, and I'll not lie and say that Operation Mindcrime II is the overwhelming success both musically and lyrically that the first was, but it's damn good. One thing to mention right off the bat is that this new saga is not the catchy, prog-metal masterpiece that the original was, filled with memorable songs and anthems that fit into the overall scheme of the piece. Instead, what you have here is one long concept of dark classic rock and progressive rock songs that work well as a cumulative whole rather than individual pieces. In fact, there's much more prog rock here than on any Queensryche album since Promised Land, and there's the welcome return of the intricate dual guitar solos that's been missing for some time. Keyboards play a strong support role on songs like the opening "Freiheit Ouverture", "Re-Arrange You", and "One Foot in Hell" (check out the tasty guitar solos on that one as well!), and the single "I'm American" seems to have been re-worked a bit from when the band first introduced it on their tour opening for Judas Priest recently. Here, it's the memorable and catchy song that I think it was meant to be. Overall, the album is not overly heavy, but there are a few crunchy rockers, like "Hostage", "Signs Say Go", and the symphonic progressive thumper "The Chase", which also features the vocal talents of one Ronnie James Dio. Speaking of vocals, Geoff Tate sounds better here than he has in years. Something about Tate singing grand and majestic songs like the ones that are included here just work better with his vocal style than the more grungey hard rock songs that the band has been performing the last 10 or so years.

In the end, Operation Mindcrime II has to be looked at as a success. No, it's not the mindblowing powerhouse that was Operation Mindcrime, but a return to progressive waters for Queensryche is a good thing in my book, and this album is leagues better than many concept pieces that are being recorded by countless prog and metal bands these days. The playing of the band is flawless, the story interesting, and the packaging of the CD very well done. Let's all embrace Operation Mindcrime II for what it is, and that is a very solid prog rock opera that is sure to be on many Best of 2006 lists at the end of the year. Welcome back Queensryche-we knew you had it in ya!

» Reader Comments:

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime II
Posted by Karl Jones on 2006-07-06 15:22:48
My Score:

Why do some bands feel the need to express artistic licence at the expense of what they and the majority of their fans enjoy playing/ listening to ? This is a very hard album to listen to as the songs are all very bland and plod along turgidly. The story here doesnt really become interesting because the music sounds like it was written overnight during the early nineties grunge era. I loved Queensryche once , but they totally lost their way after the Promised land album. Its only the distant hope that they may return to their former creative glory that keeps me buying their music....A huge disappointment from a once great band.

Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime II
Posted by Disappointed on 2006-04-25 20:21:19
My Score:

Loved the original, couldn't suffer through this thing even once. Horrible idea to try it again, and it only denegrates the original.

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