Operation: Mindcrime


EMI Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Bill Ziemer


Every once in a great while you stumble across an album that you feel is truly one of the best ever recorded. My tastes in music are usually more eclectic than most, so I usually keep these opinions to myself to avoid senseless bar room discussions that cannot ever have any true resolution. In the case of Operation: Mindcrime, however, I'll pull out all the stops, and offer my greatest praises for an album that was largely unnoticed by the mainstream.

my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Operation: Mindcrime is a concept album, masterfully written so that it achieves novel-like story development and in only a couple of hundred words. The story revolves around Nikki, a drug addict who gets mixed up in a crime syndicate and is recruited to murder a priest and a destitute named Mary. The priest had rescued Mary from the streets while she was a prostitute, and had been forcing her to grant sexual favors to him in repayment of his good will. Nikki murders the priest, but winds up falling in love with Mary, and finds it difficult to complete his orders.

Eventually, under pressure from the syndicate, he returns to complete his assignment to murder Mary. We eventually find Mary dead, but mystery surrounds her death. Was it suicide, or did Nikki murder her?

Behind this wicked tale is masterfully composed music with a metal flair. When you listen to this album, your mind fills with movie like images from the story, while the music thunders along in the background like a good movie score. At album's end, you are left with a chilling feeling that sticks for a while. The music remains resident longer. It's an album that you can listen to a hundred times over and still pick up something new every time.

Operation: Mindcrime was a relative bomb on the charts, peaking at #50 in 1988. Their follow up, Empire (1990) was a typical compilation of rockers and ballads that went double platinum, thanks to MTV's near constant airplay of "Silent Lucidity."

Typically, concept albums are not big sellers. Record labels stipulate that the rock audience isn't interested in albums that are complicated musically, or lyrically. Because of this, albums like Operation: Mindcrime usually don't receive much promotion and languish on the charts while brainless Sammy Hagar-penned Van Halen tunes rattle the top 10. If you're into rock music with a harder edge, and like a good story, give Operation: Mindcrime a whirl. The music will blow you away. The story will bring you back time and time again.

Rating: A

User Rating: B


© 1997 Bill Ziemer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI Records, and is used for informational purposes only.