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




Progressive Metal

4.24 | 981 ratings

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5 stars It's rare that an album that tries to achieves so much combines all of its disparate elements so flawlessly. That's what we're presented with here, with Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime". I'll try not to gush as I pen this review, however this is one of my top 10 albums ever, so I hope that at least a little gushing is forgiven.

I was first introduced to Queensryche through the Empire and Promised Land albums via a couple of friends. It's ironic to me now that none of us had heard of the earlier album, Mindcrime, since it is a far superior work. To be sure, Empire and Promised Land are both good albums; but they pale in comparison to their predecessor.

When I finally got around to Mindcrime several years later I was floored. Even if this were not a concept album, it would be a great metal album. Every song works brilliantly on its own as an individual piece.

Then you put them together. Whoa.

There is a masterfully crafted story to be pieced together across the album. I won't go into a breakdown of the plot, suffice to say that like any great story, there are some twists and turns, and enough mystery left intact to allow the listener room for interpretation.

Every song sets the perfect mood for the relevant chapter of the tale, from "The Mission" and its gloomy moodiness, to the panicked confusion of "The Needle Lies" and the sweet conflicted love of "Suite Sister Mary". It's mind boggling to me how Geoff Tate comes up with such brilliant vocal melodies whilst providing an information dump for the story at the same time. It's exceedingly difficult, but he pulls it off in the most natural fasion across the whole album.

As for the songs themselves, I could talk about the virtues of every track. I'll single out "The Mission" and "Eyes of a Stranger" for special mention. The former has a brilliantly catchy, instantly memorable groove and the latter a fantastic buildup and outro. The perfect end to an album and a story if ever there was one.

It begs the question why the band chose not to do something similar for albums that followed. Perhaps they didn't have the right story, or wanted to do something different. I for one would have loved to hear more in the same style. I know that many years later Mindcrime II was released, and I did listen to it briefly, but it was not compelling to me. I also viewed it as an unnecessary sequel. The original was a perfectly encapsulated story that did not require such expansion.

And so Operation Mindcrime remains the perfect synthesis of story, music, pacing and production. It remains to this day the yardstick for all other concept albums to follow. And I have not heard one to better it.

bonestorm | 5/5 |


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