Saturday, 28 January 2012

CD Review: Operation: Mindcrime, by Queensryche (1988)


Heavy metal's most famous concept album is also one of the genre's all-time best. With an attitude of controlled aggression, Queensryche deliver in Operation: Mindcrime a record of outstanding quality wrapped around a movie-like story.

The Operation: Mindcrime narrative offers a lot more plot than many films, and although the momentum muddles towards the end, Queensryche shepherd the drama through to its conclusion. The story centers on the drug-addicted narrator Nikki being recruited by the power-hungry Dr. X to commit political and religious assassinations. Whore-turned-nun Sister Mary and the corrupt Father William are also caught in Dr. X's web. Nikki embarks on a killing spree and starts to fall in love with Mary; Dr. X orders Nikki to kill both Mary and Father William. Nikki kills the priest; Mary kills herself; Nikki tries to get out of his role as an assassin; fails; is arrested; and Dr. X disappears.

Despite the strength of the concept, the music stands on its own, particularly in the first two thirds of the CD. Revolution Calling, Operation: Mindcrime and Spreading The Disease highlight the band's unique style of progressive power metal, complex structures allowing vocalist Geoff Tate and guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton to shine as they bring the story to life. The music is full of sharply directed energy, innovative pace changes and the occasional solo flourish. Most of all, the music is acutely memorable, Queensryche stylistically embedding the lyrics into perfectly molded and long-lasting vessels.

Producer Peter Collins deserves credit for helping the band link the tracks with just the right amount of instrumental and spoken bridges, and no more. The result is an album that still emphasizes the music above all, while presenting a well-constructed and engrossing narrative.

Operation: Mindcrime is one of metal's milestones, an intelligent and musically dazzling achievement.


Band:

Geoff Tate - Vocals
Chris DeGarmo - Guitars
Michael Wilton - Guitars
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Scott Rockenfield - Drums


Songlist:

1. I Remember Now - n/a (spoken)
2. Anarchy - X - n/a (short instrumental)
3. Revolution Calling - 10
4. Operation: Mindcrime - 10 *see below*
5. Speak - 8
6. Spreading The Disease - 10
7. The Mission - 9
8. Suite Sister Mary - 9
9. The Needle Lies - 9
10. Electric Requiem - n/a (short instrumental)
11. Breaking The Silence - 7
12. I Don't Believe In Love - 7
13. Waiting For 22 - n/a (short instrumental)
14. My Empty Room - n/a (short instrumental)
15. Eyes Of A Stranger - 8

Average: 8.70

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Produced by Peter Collins.
Engineered by James Barton and Paul Northfield.
Mixed by James Barton. Mastered by Bob Ludwig.





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