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




Progressive Metal

4.22 | 1120 ratings

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3 stars QUEENSRYCHE's famed album Operation: Mindcrime gets rave reviews from many here, but I think that it may be best suited to a selective audience. Specifically, this ideal audience should be into a hard-rock sound and not expect music that's too innovative, and preferably should be very interested in the lyrical and conceptual ideas of PINK FLOYD lyricist ROGER WATERS. Both artists share the tendency towards bombastic, leftist conceptual albums, a knack for incredibly good sound production, and also a knack for coming up with incredibly shocking, often politically-charged statements...although QUEENSRYCHE takes that last one to a whole other level. Before I continue, I'll suggest that if you think very highly of albums like PINK FLOYD's The Wall and ROGER WATERS' Amused to Death, then you will like Operation: Mindcrime. If not, then you may strike out with this one, just as I did.

Musically, this album is not that impressive, but certainly not awful either--the focus is squarely upon the album's concept. The music itself I would describe as hard rock...but to me it lacks the punch that I associate with metal. Certainly as a historical forerunner to the metal genre I can see why this album is so acclaimed; some riffs particularly remind me of DREAM THEATER's Scenes from a Memory, most particularly on "The Misison". GEOFF TATE's vocals range from beautiful and emotive to completely and totally overblown in full 80's style. The opening suite, from "I Remember Now" to "Operation: Mindcrime" proper is probably the strongest section on the album. Past that point, however, the album starts to suffer from variable quality, and ultimately falls down towards the end, with songs like "The Needle Lies" and "Breaking the Silence" seeming redundant and boring. By that point, the interstitial pieces like "Waiting for 22" and "Electric Requiem" actually begin to be better than the full songs, in my opinion, and this was the first reason for docking Mindcrime a star.

In some ways, Mindcrime seems derivative of The Wall, even down to a musical level in some places. Most strikingly familiar to fans of PINK FLOYD should be the use of sound effects and voices to complement the music--and I've got to say, the sound production is truly stunning, especially for when this was released. Audiophiles should be quite pleased. Musically, you may notice some similarities during the darker, moodier, and quieter sections of the album. The opening of "The Mission" evokes the intro to "Nobody Home" thanks to the use of the television clips, and "Electric Requiem" is very suggestive of tracks like "Stop". The cycling from beginning to end, though, is possibly the most FLOYD-like aspect of the execution of this album.

To continue my comparison to The Wall, Operation: Mindcrime has been kicked up to a much greater level of vulgarity. That was what ultimately turned me off of this album. The irony is, I actually listen to musicians like OPETH who create much harder music than this--the difference is that OPETH doesn't make a habit out of the disgusting comments and outright slams that QUEENSRYCHE seems to revel in. Hard music (to my mind) does not have to mean spiteful lyrics and a lot of swearing--and unfortunately it's bands that do things like this that get the entire metal genre a bad name. I can live with a bit of swearing and the occasional lurid statement with no problem--used sparingly, such words can have great, powerful effects. But with the kind of overkill you find here, it just becomes grating and unpleasant. As such, I am personally displeased with this album, and it definitely cost the other star.

Just like WATERS, QUEENSRYCHE's most common targets are Christianity and America. "Spreading the Disease" and "Suite Sister Mary" are probably the most outrageous lyrics-wise, but there are numerous examples of statements guaranteed to offend one group or the other. Now, just like ROGER WATERS, I've got to give it to QUEENSRYCHE's lyricist...he is talented, and you're guaranteed to find many clever turns of phrase. Unfortunately, just as WATERS started doing as he progressed in his career, one could say that the QUEENSRYCHE lyricist has quite a tendency to "use his powers for evil". If you do not care for highly political, anti-religious, or vulgar lyrics, this is not for you. If you don't mind, then you may be interested in picking this one up for the talented writing.

Overall, I think this is one of those albums you should consider carefully before buying. For fans of ROGER WATERS, this would probably be the logical next step after exhausting WATERS' catalogue. But for those who take a more escapist philosophy towards music, such as some fans of AYREON, this may not work out. Personally, I recommend reading the lyrics first. If you can live with what is said, fine, but if not, perhaps this will save you some money.

FloydWright | 3/5 |


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