Remember when rock music held the promise of social change? There is something about having a Bush back in the oval office that makes this album relevant in strange new ways. Originally released back in 1988, this rock opera tells the story of Nikki, a dropout of the Regan era and a heroin addict, who tries to make a difference in society by joining an underground revolutionary movement headed by Doctor X. You can feel his frustration and hope for a better future in “Speak”: Seven years of powerThe corporation clawThe rich control the government, the media the lawTo make some kind of differenceThen everyone must knowEradicate the fascists, revolution will growThe system we learn says we’re equal under lawBut the streets are reality, the weak and poor will fallLet’s tip the power balance and tear down their crownEducate the masses, We’ll burn the White House downSpeak to me the pain you feelSpeak the word [Revolution]The word is all of usUnfortunately for Nikki, he learns that even his revolution will not allow him to think for himself, he just waits for the call to learn his next target. The good doctor provides the drugs he need and the sense of purpose towards a greater good in exchange for Nikki’s killing skills. The role of the doctor is played remarkably like Cancer Man from the X-files. When Nikki goes rouge, the revolution finds a way to silence him. Operation Mindcrime is in my mind the most complex and socially meaningful rock opera in existence. Its major difference from utopian social commentary is that it shows the limitations of the people controlling a social revolution for the supposed good of the masses while still showing the responsibility of the status quo government for the revolutionary impulse. Thus, Operation Mindcrime does not provide easy solutions but exposes the basic problems of our fiscally divided society.
Long dubbed ”the thinking man’s metal band,” Queensryche have always been difficult to classify; somewhere between Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd. Mindcrime was their breakthrough album, garnering the band commercial and critical success. Arguably their best release, this is a complex, ambitious effort, with top-notch music and a complicated storyline (a disillusioned fortune hunter of the Reagan era joins an underground movement to assassinate political scumbags) that flows smoothly from start to finish. The combination of experimental, progressive music with shorter, more radio-friendly songs works well, and enabled the band to release singles from the album while keeping the story intact. These shorter songs provide the album’s most exciting moments; ”Revolution Calling,” ”Eyes of a Stranger,” and ”I Don’t Believe in Love” are some of the best metal songs out there. –Genevieve Williams
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I thought I would buy the RE-MASTERED CD and get a better Sonic quality. What I found to my Shock and Horror, is that they introduced so much digital clipping and distortion that I can not stand to listen to this version.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is one of THE GREATEST albums ever made in it’s original release.
I even exchanged the cd for another thinking it was a problem with the disk, but this did not help, as they all have the hidious distortion.
I tried to contact the record company, but there is no way to get a hold of anyone to let them know someone really screwed up on this album.
There is Clipping, Sizzling, and clicks that are not in the original release.
Listen to the beginning of “I don’t believe in Love” and you will hear all kinds of sizzle and crunch. This is all throughout this CD.
Whom ever Re-mastered this cd should be shot
An immense pleasure I am now experiencing while listening to Queensryche’s stunning “Operation: Mindcrime”, coupled with the surprisingly small number of reviews here have urged me to put digit to keyboard and wax poetic about this incredibly emotive sonic masterpiece. Sadly, this masterwork may have been overshadowed on one side by the predictable poses of the popular “80’s hair metal bands”, and the technically brilliant yet sometimes emotionally chilly “thrash” of the late 80’s; yet Queensryche nevertheless garnered much critical praise and expansion of their core following with a cohesive work that delights on many levels of lyric, melody, and emotional resonance. And today, nearly 15 years after its original release, Mindcrime continues to evoke a passionate listening experience through its well-written compositions of sheer power and emotional catharsis.The core Queensryche “sound” finds its influence in a diverse blend of rock idioms, from the expertly performed art and progressive rock circles to the edgy and incisive sounds of punk rock rebellion. Blend in a pinch of theatrical classic rock in the vein of The Who’s “Quadrophenia” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, and the listener has transcended the run of the mill, stagnant musical forms that occupy a good deal of the record store bins and radio station playlists. Yet Queensryche manages to defy the conveniences of category, presenting an arsenal of sounds and moods that frankly put many of their contemporaries to shame. The vocals of Geoff Tate are inspired and sincere, unlocking the deepest emotional meaning in the passionate lyrics — If Nero carelessly played his fiddle while Rome burned, Geoff Tate is employing his stunningly melodic vocal gift to inspire the fiery insurgency! And what an insurgency it is, with Mr. Tate relating how the mechanized culture of greed and media manipulation “spread the disease” during Mindcrime’s socio-political themed first half, while exposing deepest torment of the soul and it’s heart-wrenching sadness on the album’s latter half, affording us a look through the eyes of a lost stranger who through tragedy no longer believes in love. Noteworthy songs such as “Speak”, “Spreading The Disease” (with a heart-stopping middle break that positively tears asunder the greed and hypocrisy of the dominant 1980’s political culture), “The Mission” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” showcase Tate’s limitless vocal range and keen ability to locate the melodic heart of a lyric through his vocals. Suffice it to say that Operation Mindcrime features brilliance not only in the technque of Geoff Tate’s voice, but also in the songwriting of the “Tri-Ryche” trio of Tate and guitarists extraordinaire Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton. Virtuosos Wilton and DeGarmo unleash pummeling power chords, lilting arpeggios, and soaring solos as if their very lives depended on it, forging a sound that grips the listener and fits like a silken hand inside the velvet glove of Tate’s vocals. The fullness and clarity of sound on this 22-bit remaster reveals the excellent rhythm guitar tracks that form the bedrock for technically and melodically gifted solos galore (a common complaint about 80’s metal “shredders” is that they lacked in the rhythm department — definitely not so with the ‘Ryche!) The depth of the layers of melody here are cemented by a persistently rumbling bass courtesy of Eddie Jackson (brilliantly exemplified in the album’s title track), an ever-audible bass that adds a rhythmic foundation to the symphony of guitars (how many 80’s rock albums are marred by a nearly invisible bass? Again, not on Operation: Mindcrime!). Rounding out the rhythm section is drummer Scott Rockenfield’s cymbal crashes and fiery snare work, a combined assault that not only provides a rhythmic pulse but also a melodic compliment with a fine employment of the ride and hi-hat cymbals.Nearly 16 years after it’s initial release (and about 15 since I first listened), Operation: Mindcrime continues to fascinate, perhaps more than ever on this sonically enhanced, remastered edition. Countless trends have come and gone, but art in its most sincere form is able to defy the fickle tastes of those who listen merely for the “hot new sound” or the latest fashion trend shrewdly marketed through the vehicle of a “musical” group. An album that inspires on so many levels (I find myself concurrently singing, air drumming and strumming, and dancing about in sheer abandon in my living room as I listen … not to mention pondering the deeper lyrical meanings!), I offer the highest recommendation possible to Operation: Mindcrime, an album that any lover of music can appreciate for it’s thought-provoking sound, charging forward through the centuries to bare it’s fierce and fiery musical soul to all who venture to listen.
Widely regarded as the band’s masterpiece, “Operation: Mindcrime” was a rather bold undertaking– following in the footsteps of The Who’s “Tommy” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, Queensryche assembled a concept album about a disillusionment and revolution, with a healthy dose of tragic love in there for good measure. Like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, the greatest moments in Mindcrime are not when the narrative is served, but rather when the pieces take on a universal quality, when the protagonist is clearly someone whose shoes we have worn. All of us have been disgusted with big business, all of us have loved and lost. Admittedly, most of us don’t end up as assassins for cult leaders, but noentheless, there’s a resonance here that’s hard to capture.
Musically, its really a culmination of what’s come before– “Rage For Order” clearly points the way to this one, but this time the progressive elements and the seemingly endless styles mesh much better with the base metal form the band works within. Admittedly, parts of it do sound a bit dated (the title track being the best example), but there’s a real timeless quality to much of the music here.
Highlights are numerous here, certainly the opus “Suite Sister Mary”, ten minutes plus of orchestral rock with chanting choirs, moody guitars, and a passion filled duet vocal became singer Geoff Tate and guest Pamela Moore is pretty central, and there’s quite a bit of powerful metal pieces (“Revolution Calling”, “The Mission”, “The Needle Lies”) that exceed the quality of similar songs on past releases, but its odd little moments on the album that really shine– “My Empty Room” foremost on this. An odd melancholy song, haunted, horrifying, and totally bizarre and unprecedented in the band’s material.
For the remaster, the sound is somewhat improved and is crisp and distinct. The album is augmented (in my opinion to its detraction– I prefer the album as a statement unto itself) by two live tracks, a great take of “The Mission” from 1990 and a rerecording of the rearrangement of “My Empty Room” the band played on the “Promised Land” tour in 1994. The latter is definitely well worth having as it really is quite inventive and creative.
This is one of the masterpieces of the metal genre and cemented Queensryche’s reputation. While I personally find “Promised Land” to be a superior album (for reasons of personal taste), this is a superb record, a great place to begin exploring the band’s catalog, and essential listening.
We’re not talking about just any album here. We’re talking about Queensryche’s ‘tour de force’, their ‘magnum opus’ or any other cliche that denotes sheer perfection. Yes we’re talking about Operation: Mindcrime, not only Queensryche’s zenith, considered by many as the apogee of concept albums and heavy metal in general. Basically we’re talking about progressive metal nirvana.
There is a reason that the preponderance of reviewers give Operation: Mindcrime five stars. When it comes to concept albums, it is the standard to which all concept albums are compared, it has no peers. Heck I do it myself, stacking other very good concept albums against the incomparable Operation: Mindcrime.
What is a concept album? It is simply an album where each song revolves around a single concept or story.
In only their second album, Queensryche scored their breakthrough success with this most ambitious concept album, Operation: Mindcrime, which tells the story of an anarchist whose disillusionment with Reagan-era American society leads him to join a shadowy plot to assassinate corrupt leaders. The band plays fabulously and Geoff Tate does both a great acting and singing job and the music as indicated is quite ambitious, featuring, among others “Suite Sister Mary”, a ten-minute track with orchestrations by Michael Kamen.
The band released two hit singles “Eyes of a Stranger” and “I Don’t Believe In Love” from this album which is basically hard driving heavy metal except for these singles, which are both power ballads. Interspersed within the music are four suites of dialogue and several other cameos of short monologue or dialogue which help tell the story. These certainly add a nice touch in completing this great recording.
Operation Mindcrime begins in a hospital ward where a patient named Nikki after a pain shot from a nurse who calls him a bastard, recalls the recent rash of murders he perpetrated at the request of Dr. X. Nikki, you see, was a psychotic, cynical malcontent who was recruited and brainwashed by the nefarious Dr. X, a power crazed evangelical preacher, leader of ‘The Order’, to be his personal assassin.
After getting Nikki addicted to drugs, brainwashed and dependent on him for his fixes, Dr. X sends Nikki first out to kill an unnamed corrupt politician, then his girlfriend Mary (an ex hooker) and the priest who got her off the streets because they are risks.
After completing his mission but not remembering it, he finds Mary murdered and realizing what he has done, Nikki goes on a drug binge and ends up in the hospital, the victim of a self induced narcotics overdose. From there the songs vacillate to a series of recriminations and rationalizations with “Breaking the Silence” “I don’t Believe in Love” and “The Eyes of a Stranger”.
It is truly a hard choice on this album but here is my list of the four best songs:
“Spreading the Disease”
For those faint of heart you may want to stay away from this song as it’s just loaded with sex and deviancy. It is the sordid tale of Mary a prostitute, whom Nikki tries to save by getting a priest to take her off the streets. This emotive song is set to heavy double base drums at a medium/fast tempo with plenty of metal accompaniment.
“Suite Sister Mary”
A ten minute and forty second masterpiece, this ‘piece de resistance’ starts out with Dr. X ordering Nikki to go out and kill Mary and the priest after which, “Mary” starts out with a solo melodic guitar and a Choir which goes on to accompany Tate throughout the song. As on the whole album there are sound effects and dialogue thrown in such as thunder and sirens.
The music itself is again a highly emotional but variable paced number that is a wonderful confluence of rock/metal and opera.
“I don’t Believe in Love”
In this song Nikki denies his love for Mary because he cannot face the fact that he murdered her. It is a sad melancholy power ballad. It is very melodic with a varied pace, the verses being slower than the chorus. This was released as a single because it is quite accessible and it was a minor hit even though taken away from the story it loses something.
“The Eyes of a Stranger”
This is my favorite song after “Mary”, it is again very melodic varied tempo piece with a great guitar intro. Tate does some powerful singing here on the choruses. the song picks up speed as it goes on up to about a medium pace.
Another single and again a minor hit.
I have a confession to make. I don’t put much emphasis on lyrics and seldom pay much attention to them, especially when they are hard to understand. Operation: Mindcrime is the exception. The lyrics are easily understood and tell a sad if not exciting, suspenseful story. I’m sure everyone will have their own interpretation of this monumental work, in my case I visualized definite similarities to the movie Manchurian Candidate.
In this day of terrorism and runaway fanatical religion this classic album/story gains even more importance.
There are so many nuances in the epic CD that everytime I listen to it I pick up something new. If you haven’t heard Operation: Mindcrime, don’t you think it’s time.