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Queensr˙che - Operation: Mindcrime CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.24 | 981 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The most influential album in progressive metal, PERIOD!

So here we are in 1988, days when traditional punk rock has decayed into oblivion, heavy metal is having mainstream attention worldwide and is developing into something else fast, as different metal genres are blossoming as a result of the crossover and experimentation with metal and other kinds of music, such as progressive rock, and here is where my review truly begins.

Just like progressive rock, progressive metal has its milestones, great albums that influenced a whole generation or generations of musicians and bands, that help identify what is progressive metal and what is not (in other words, a good measuring stick) and that help defining the genre. This album is one of those albums. Making a parallel with progressive rock, i like to say that this album is progressive metal's equivalent for King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, because some consider it to be the first progressive metal album (just like some consider Crimson's album the first progressive rock album) and it is a very important and influential album to the genre's history, being one of its foundation stones.

Queensr˙che's influence can be seen more clearly in traditional progressive metal bands, such as Dream Theater and Shadow Gallery (Dream Theater had, in numerous occasions, declared that Queensr˙che is one of their main inspirations). In albums such as Dream Theater's Metropolis part 2: Scenes From a Memory and Shadow Gallery's Tyranny and Room V the influence comes even in the album structure: they are all concept albums, they all have introductions that resemble a lot Mindcrime's introduction tracks: I remember now, Anarchy-X and Revolution Calling (in Scenes From a Memory the resemblance, structure-wise, is enormous: in the first track the protagonist is taken into a journey back to its past; the second track represents the process when the protagonist starts remember its past; in the third track the protagonist sees his former actions and the things he experienced in the past; in Tyranny and Room V, the resemblance in the introduction are only between the first and second tracks with, respectively Anarchy X and Revolution Calling) and both Tyranny and Room V have ending tracks that allow the story to be continued like Operation: Mindcrime's final track does.

In Shadow Gallery's case, the influence reaches much deeper and can be seen even in the concept of both Tyranny and Room V. In Operation: Mindcrime, there is also noticeable Pink Floyd influence from the album The Wall towards its end, probably because in both albums the protagonist snaps and occasionally loses his sanity and both albums picture that with accuracy.

The Concept

The whole concept develops around Nikki, a heroin addict and would-be political radical frustrated with contemporary society, that is manipulated by Dr. X through a combination of his heroin addiction and brainwashing techniques and whenever Dr. X uses the word mindcrime Nikki becomes his docile puppet, being used as an assassin. Through one of Dr. X's probable associates, a corrupt priest named Father William, Nikki is offered the services of a prostitute-turned-nun named Sister Mary with whom he falls in love. Wile his feelings towards Mary grow, he begins to question the nature of what he is doing and, when Dr. X finds out about that, Nikki is ordered to kill both Father William and Sister Mary. After killing the priest, Nikki confronts Mary, but is unable to kill her and so they both decides to leave the organization together. Then, Nikki tell Dr. X that he and mary are out, but is remembered by Dr. X that only he could provide Nikki his daily fix. Nikki leaves confused and conflicted and goes back to Mary only to find her dead. He suffer immensely with Mary's death and with the possibility that it could be actually he the killer and starts losing his sanity.The police finds him at the crime scene and arrest Nikki for the murderer of Mary and his other crimes, committed under the influence of Dr. X but, because of his near-catatonic state, he is put into a hospital, where he starts to remember his story and where the album begins and ends.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

The songs here, unlike many metal bands from the 80's, don't sound dated: they in fact sound pretty much modern (maybe because of its broad influence among important modern progressive metal bands).

The musicianship is also something noticeable and worth some consideration. Although the music here still riff-based, like most metal bands even today, you can notice that the composition style is slowly changing to melodic lines instead of a half dozen riffs used in the entire song. I mean, instead of riffing all song long with a small combination if riffs, they start to open the horizons, building more complex melodic lines and harmonies, and to make the instrumental work round there is Geoff Tate incredible vocals.

Like all (or at least most concept albums) i don't think thins album can be listened in parts, i mean, you can't simply break it to the songs and listen them separately: you MUST listen the album as a whole or else it will lose its magic, its essence, something that all good concept albums have and Operation: Mindcrime also has.

However, there are parts / songs that are better, such as the opening (I Remember, Anarchy X and Revolution Calling), Speak, Suite Sister Mary, The Needle Lies and the closing (Waiting For 22, My Empty Room and Eyes Of A Stranger).

Grade and Final Thoughts

This albums is really a gem. Being, arguably, the first progressive metal album, it is undoubtedly a milestone of the genre and of progressive rock as well. Also it is a great concept album (both in music and in storyline / lyrics) and, for the reasons i expressed above, i REALLY think this album deserves to have the masterpiece grade.

CCVP | 5/5 |


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