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.