Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II Review
by Zane Ewton
The original Operation Mindcrime was wildly successful record that has enjoyed the kind of cult status a band could only hope for but rarely survives. Queensryche have always been a band that separated itself from the crowd. That separation widened when they dared to release a concept album in the heyday of big hair, big drugs and big sleaze.
Mindcrime I was a reaction to Reagan politics and the reality of life that was not spoken of much during the spandex and confetti parties. So the sequel arrives during a similar time in our political and social climate. Whether the political overtones will matter in a time when everyone has their complaint album on store shelves does not matter. The most important question remains. Does Operation Mindcrime II rock?
Granted, sequels rarely outperform the original but II is a dramatic album with depths only uncovered through repeated listening. And most importantly, it does rock. II is an old school metal album that should please the band's loyalists and perk the attention of the new kids discovering eighties style metal.
The actual story may not be easy to follow but even the Who had to clearly state that Tommy was a "deaf, dumb and blind boy" who played some "mean pinball." The story isn't that important. The highlights shine through Ashif Hakik's urgent orchestral arrangements, Geoff Tate's outstanding vocals and a cameo from the Man on the Silver Mountain, Ronnie James Dio.
Hakik's futuristic arrangements remain grounded in classicism and set the tone and pace of the record, beginning with leadoff track "Freiheit Ouverture". Tate plays the lead role and carries the records emotional depth through a murderous confrontation with Dr. X, voiced by a particularly creepy Dio, and into the desperate finale.
The rest of the band blazes through early album highlight "I'm American" and plows through the rest of the album like a turbo-charged machine, only pulling back to highlight the orchestration or during the quiet final track, "All the Promises."
Critics can complain that Operation Mindcrime II is out of touch with the current music scene or just a simple retread of past success. That's nonsense. A good record is a good record despite the back-story and II stands up on its own merits.
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