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

OPERATION : MINDCRIME II

Queensr˙che

 

Progressive Metal

3.24 | 191 ratings

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semismart
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Almost twenty years later, the release of the follow up to Queensryche's monumental creation, Operation Mindcrime had music lovers in general and Operation Mindcrime lovers specifically drooling.

So does Operation Mindcrime II, measure up to the original? That's what I'm here to discuss.

Operation Mindcrime I

Obviously, before Mindcrime II there was a Mindcrime I, so let's revisit I, before we get to II.

Nikki is an impressionable sociopath whom the evil "Doctor X" addicted to drugs, becoming his supplier. The agenda of Dr. X, the leader of "The Order" is unclear but his control of the suggestible Nikki is complete, and he compels Nikki to go on a mini crime spree, even assassinating a U.S. senator in the Doctor's behalf.

Niki is also involved with an ex-whore turned nun named Mary, emotionally and sexually, who is really the only positive influence in his life. The Doctor knows this. Worried that he may have confided in Mary and wanting to eliminate her influence, Dr. X orders Nikki to assassinate Sister Mary and the priest too, which in a drugged stupor, he does.

At first he doesn't remember killing Mary but seeing little flashbacks here and there , Nikki goes into a tailspin from guilt. Eventually, Nikki ends up in a hospital under guard, charged with Mary's murder.

Operation Mindcrime II

After eighteen years in prison, ready or not Nikki is released back into society. Nikki has had years to think about his life and how he ended up in prison and he has one thing and only one thing in mind to use his newfound freedom for. REVENGE! This is obvious when you open up the Cd booklet and the following poem appears on the first two pages :

REVENGE He awoke from a dream. "Where am I?" With his mind like a blank sheet of paper, he sat for hours staring at the television. Maybe something would click. A random news clip announces the successes of Xcide Pharmaceuticals-CLICK!

He remembered the killing. Oh, all the killing. With no faith in humanity, no trust in society and the system, innocence is lost. Is there meaning for such a worthless life?

The doctor, called X, said, "I will give you a mission! I will make you somebody! I'll show you a way into the INNER CIRCLE!" But only morality would make him somebody. Only morality would save him.

The church offered the prostitute Mary a way in with the promise of safety, love, and forgiveness. It was a lie. Like a life on the street, abuse by others happens here too.

And like a flood-it begins. All the memories.

"Kill the priest!" It was done but the satisfaction faded. Need more, something more. Revenge! And the hunt began-to save his soul.

Revenge is an endless cycle of action and reaction with another. To some, a worthy goal, but once attained, how would you feel? What then? Would you finally have peace?

He and Mary had it all-but couldn't see it. True love for another is everything.

The fallout is addiction. Numb the pain.

Immersed in violence. A worthless life? Numb the pain and sleep forever . . . ?

Listen.

And so, Nikki has found purpose in his life. A goal worth living and dying for - the assassination of the evil "Doctor X".

Tracks 1 & 2 - Freiheit Ouvert�re & Convict - A wonderful introduction. One that really fits the mood and tempo of the following story, featuring full orchestration, including string section and double bass drums. The only problem was it length. At only 1:35 I found myself wishing it was a ten minute opus.

3 - I'm American - Is a hard driving fast paced song reminiscent of the third track from the original Mindcrime - Revolution Calling. The fact that Nikki leaves prison with a sense of entitlement is evident in the songs lyrics: " I've got no fear 'cause I've weathered the breakdown, San Quentin to the edge of the Big Town. I'm a man of the people, in the home of the brave, and I'm no man's slave.

Because I'm free, I deserve everything I can get. I'm American. I'm American."

4 - One Foot in Hell - A medium paced song where Nikki is starting to dwell more on the dirt done to him by the maleficent one - Doctor X. " Back streets . . . oh hell, back where I started from there's not a thing . . . but you. When they took you, when they took you from me and left you bleeding on that concrete floor. One man's obsession is another man's trash, and Mary was more than a whore.

And every day I breathe I remember more. I've become something you wouldn't believe!"

5 - Hostage - Is another medium speed song laden with strong guitar work and backup singing, where Nikki is ruminating about crooked politicians and all the injustice in the world. " Culture hostage. I'm writhing in the cold grasp of justice, as she turns away. Blind is she supposed to be but, someone took a razor to her mask.

Rusted now the scales you hold, the balance tipped by the weight of gold. When will it end? When will it ever end?"

6 - The Hands - The third medium tempo song in row, all good but sounding a little alike. On the Hands, Nikki's psychosis is beginning to show in the lyrics, which are very good: " When I'm lost . . . I find a way. I hear voices. I feel them surround me, pull me from the edge. I close my eyes and . . . .

my luck keeps holding strong, even when the boot comes down. Waiting for the revolution but there's no one around except the . . . hands out of nowhere, saving me again. There's always something there watching out for me, if I'm suffocating, it gives me air."

7 - Speed of Light - This song reminds me a lot of the original Mindcrime. It is a medium tempo number in which Nikki's mental questions are answered by his inner voices. Toward the end Mary asserts herself as one of the voices and Nikki assures her, "Don't worry, I'll kill the bastard!" " Wonder where'd the time go? There it was, gone in the blink of an eye. See how much life is left staring back in my face? But I know it now as clear as, clear as a window."

8 - Signs Say Go - Is an interesting if not exceptional song. Songs Say Go is a hard rocking fast speed song that sounds like the 'Ryche' of the eighties. The lyrics again feature the bantering between Nikki and his inner devils. " Imagine if you will, what it means . . . this worthless life. Tried my best to the scratch the surface got bloody broken fingernails.

Convincing stories of achievement, lies. All expectations smashed, never could comply. Generations come and go. And what will I be, the failure they see here?"

9 - Re-Arrange You - Is one of the best songs. It is a fast-paced song in the old Queensryche style featuring full orchestration and some truly interesting riffs. Although relatively short at 3:11 it has a big impact and displays there progressive tendencies. The song discusses how Nikki is closing in on Doctor X and it's inevitable that he will get him. "Last time, missed my chance but never again. The further away you slip, the more I'll dig in. All things come around again and this time I'll be ready and waiting. You can't imagine dedication that I now possess."

10 - The Chase - A hard driving varied paced number with a catchy chorus and violins in the background, this is where Nikki confronts the nefarious Doctor X. Ronnie James Dio playing the part of the nefarious Dr X and Geoff Tate spew back and forth a tirade of vitriolic aspersions in one of the highlights of the album. The Chase allows the listener an intriguing observation into Dr. X manipulations of Nikki, showing him to be just a tool in X's convoluted scheme. " You think you're smart, inventive because you've figured out my game? Pride is a handy substitute, when you've got only yourself to blame. All my dreams I've realized while you . . . were indisposed. While you've spent eighteen years watching TV, I've watched my fortune grow."

11 - Murder - Is a rather strange song that I only rate as average. Starting with an acoustic guitar and a cha cha beat, it morphs into heavy percussion indictment of violence. The second half of the song picks up speed and intensity but the damage is done for me. " Lost my faith in humanity and I don't trust in society I'm numb, cold, ready.

No one else dies today . . .

What did you do? I don't remember . . . Murderer! They say I'm a murderer!"

12 - Circles - Another strange song. The four lines below are the entire lyrics of this mostly instrumental, ethereal journey with a discordant electric guitar " I walk around in circles, up all night. I wish there was something in my life that turned out right. I'm waiting here for reasons that used to be clear. What I thought I needed so bad was always here . . ."

13- If I Could Change it All - Is a truly great bluesy ballad with a dialogue between Nikki and long dead Sister Mary that evolves into the blues being backed up by a choir. Sounds strange? It is, but it's wonderful as well. Then the song segues right into another powerful bluesy song "An Intentional Confrontation." You almost have to think of these two songs as one, " She said, "Baby, where you been? Why'd you have to leave me? I'm on the other side . . . just looking in." I've been so high; I climbed to the mountaintop, looked at myself and . . .

I'd tell you anything you want to hear. And I'd desert you when I'm through. I'd say anything because true love don't mean a thing to a man, who's not a man, but a fool."

14 - An Intentional Confrontation " Where are you now? Feeling small. Can't live without it? You call this your best? I made my life a mess. And everyone but you sees it. What a fool. What are you gonna do, make more excuses? Why don't you tie it off? Hang myself? End your pathetic little life!"

15 - A Junkie's Blues - Is another excellent song. It has an long heavy introduction but settles down into a powerful philosophic ballad, with some of Tate's strongest vocals, backed by the orchestra. " I still have questions with no answers. I'm alive . . . but I'm not living. I don't have much time left . . . I just know this: I've lived a violent life. I might as well be dead.

I just want to sleep forever and forget . . ."

16 - Fear City Slide - Is a medium tempo song with a catchy melody and chorus. It's another song reminiscent of the older 'Ryche'including a strong ending guitar solo. " Come on, come on gotta take a ride, Fear City slide. Last chance @ suicide.

Come on, come on leave your head outside, you've built a lie. Last chance @ suicide."

17 - All the Promises - Is a soft sad acoustic ballad between the former lovers, the long dead Sister Mary and Nikki. Does Nikki commit suicide? Who knows? I couldn't figure it out. Maybe we'll see an Operation Mindcrime III. " Is there some other way out of here? Somewhere I could find myself? Can't sleep enough, can't stay high. All the promises . . . just another lie.

I've always been afraid except . . . in the moments that I loved you. The only time I felt strong was when you stood next to me. I could make a stand if . . . I could hold your hand again . . ."

Conclusion

So, is Operation Mindcrime II (OMII) as good as the original? I don't think that anyone would argue that OMII is as good or better than the original. Rarely does an album reach the lofty heights achieved with the original Operation Mindcrime, which I have suggested on several occasions, is the ultimate concept album ever produced.

That's not to mean that OMII doesn't have merit. It is a good album. In fact, it is a very good album and Queensryche's best album since Empire. It's just not OMI, but then again ninety-nine percent of the albums I have are not as good as OMI.

The good news is that after several listens and after writing this review, I have decided that Operation Mindcrime II is both a worthy followup to the original and a great stand on it's own album. The older Queensryche sound (translates into good) is back and Tate's vocals are both emotional and inspired.

The beginning of the album is great and the end is excellent. In addition three of the best songs are in the middle. If you are a Queensryche fan you shouldn't be disappointed. If you're not a Queensryche fan, you shouldn't be disappointed.

Killer songs are: Freiheit Ouvert�re, I'm American, The Hands, Signs Say Go, Re-Arrange You, The Chase, If I Could Change It All, An Intentional Confrontation, A Junkie's Blues.

semismart | 5/5 |

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