Queensryche were already being labelled as ‘the thinking man’s metal band’ at this point and with this opus they really did turn that statement up a notch or two.
Written by: Explorer
ALBUM: Operation: Mindcrime
LABEL: EMI Manhattan
CD REISSUE: Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Geoff Tate – lead vocals * Chris DeGarmo – guitar, guitar synthesizer * Michael Wilton – guitar * Eddie Jackson – bass * Scott Rockenfield – drums,percussion
Additional Musicians: Pamela Moore – as Sister Mary, Anthony Valentine – as Dr. X, Debbie Wheeler – as the Nurse, Mike Snyder – as the Anchorman, Scott Mateer – as Father William, The Moronic Monks of Morin Heights – choir, Michael Kamen – orchestration
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Remember Now * 02 Anarchy-X * 03 Revolution Calling * 04 Operation: Mindcrime * 05 Speak * 06 Spreading The Disease * 07 The Mission * 08 Suite Sister Mary * 09 The Needle Lies * 10 Electric Requiem * 11 Breaking The Silence * 12 I Don’t Believe In Love * 13 Waiting For 22 * 14 My Empty Room * 15 Eyes Of A Stranger
WEBLINKS: Official Website
The bands second full album ‘Rage For Order’ saw them come back on track after the misstep that was ‘The Warning’, but I don’t think that anyone was quite prepared for what was to follow. ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ was a quantum leap in quality, and since its release in 1988 its been rightly seen as a benchmark when it comes to ‘Prog Metal’.
Many bands have tried since to emulate this album but have never reached those dizzy heights. Queensryche were already being labelled as ‘the thinking man’s metal band’ at this point and with this opus they really did turn that statement up a notch or two.
This is a true ‘concept/story album’, there’s nothing remotely obtuse here. The story telling is linear and very direct and from the very off it’s right in your face. You can almost taste the venom in Tate’s vocals, such is the disdain for the subject matter, corrupt politicians, the general mistrust of authority etc.
The fifteen tracks on display here are seamlessly put together to make it a complete listen. In isolation, the tracks probably don’t mean much, apart from perhaps ‘I Don’t Believe In Love’ which was the single in fact. This album is most definitely best heard in one sitting.
After the brief intro which sets the scene, we’re off and running with the likes of the rallying cry that is ‘Revolution Calling’, the quite malevolent title track, and the Judas Priest like ‘Speak’ and ‘Spreading The Disease’. To enhance the storyline, there are various voice actors liberally spread throughout the album which helps flesh out the story, there’s nothing remotely ‘cheesy’ about it either, it’s all done perfectly.
The band are in top form, Geoff Tate has never (before or since) sounded better and the twin incendiary guitars of DeGarmo and Wilton are really an assault on the senses. The album centrepiece is the 10 minutes Prog Metal epic ‘Suite Sister Mary’ which at times has a gothic feel to it, but it’s also a beautiful piece and yet still with that nasty underlying tension within its lifespan.
In the live setting this track featuring Pamela Moore in the ‘starring’ role was simply awesome, and the final track ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’ is a fitting finale to what is an exceptional album. A note also about the production too, it’s harsh, brash but completely compliments the message the band wanted to convey.
The band really did vent their spleen with this one, seemingly getting the collective monkeys off their backs, and all the better for it I say. I reckon this album is Queenryche’s creative peak, it was a slow burner sales wise but eventually attained Platinum status.
Its follow up, the huge selling ‘Empire’ was nearly up there with it, but not quite so for me. The subsequent decline of the band in both creative and personnel terms was sad to see, and has been well documented in the rock press so I’ll leave it at that. Queensryche really did capture something special with this album. If you are new to the band start with this one.. satisfaction guaranteed.
I Don’t Believe In Love
Eyes Of A Stranger