Operation Mindcrime II


Rhino, 2006


REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


Let me first say that I understand why Queensryche wanted to make this sequel to the original classic concept album. The first Operation Mindcrime hooked me as a fan from that faithful day that I sat in Chad Elick's bedroom and heard the nurse mutter, "Sweet dreams . . . you bastard" followed by the narrator saying, "I remember how it started. I can't remember yesterday, I just remember doing what they told me. . ." for the first time.

I became an instant Queensryche fan. Songs like "Eyes of a Stranger" and "I Don't Believe in Love" took me over the edge. I did my research, got "The Warning" and "Rage For Order" and their 4 song EP and immersed myself in the band. When Empire came out, I bought it almost immediately and savored in the band's power, especially the opening track "Best I Can." Then sometime after Empire, I lost track of them. I listened to Promised Land and thought the band I loved was gone. I didn't really pay attention to the band after that as my musical tastes led me to other places.

Therefore, I was skeptical when I first heard that vocalist Geoff Tate felt he had something to add to the original story. Most likely, Tate came up with "What would happen next for these characters?" and felt he needed to get the rest of his band to present that story to the masses. On the surface, it makes a lot of sense. However, like all sequels, it's very difficult to capture the spirit of an original masterpiece years later. Sequels can tarnish the legend of the original and at times my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Operation Mindcrime II comes close to doing so.

In general terms, Operation Mindcrime II continues the story in the original. The guy gets out of jail and is obsessed with finding out what has happened to his world since he was in jail. The world has definintely changed and, basically, he's out for revenge. With that concept in your head, you'd think this might be a fast-paced musical journey. Well, you'd be wrong. Only the opener "I'm American" has an urgent tempo. I really like this song. The tempo is fast and drummer Scott Rockenfield gets a Master Of Puppets style snare fill that sounds awesome.

But it goes downhill after that. "One Foot In Hell" plods along and isn't very interesting. "Hostage" doesn't get much better. The mix is amazingly unclear and muddy, which is disappointing because most Queensryche albums have a crisp sound to them. Instead, the instruments sound like there was a blanket over the microphone in the studio.

Then, remarkably, this release treks its way up a long hill. Starting with "The Hands," this release begins to sound more like the original Operation Mindcrime sound. Vocalist Tate hits the classic vocal style that made him a legendary metal vocalist and either the mix becomes clearer, or my ears adapted to the sound to pick up the individual instruments. Guitarists Mike Stone and Micheael Wilton suddenly play some interesting solos and riffs while Rockenfield gets some interesting parts on "Signs Say Go."

One of the trademarks of the first Operation Mindcrime was the use of dialogue between the songs as a way to tell the story. Queensryche decided not to do that as much on this release. Instead, they use silence between the tracks "Signs Say Go" and "Re-Arrange You," which is interesting. Whereas the storyline was pounded into the listener's ears on the original, here the story is told more through the lyrics. Therefore, it's a good thing that the lyrics are printed in an easy-to-read font.

There's also silence between "Re-Arrange You" and "The Chase." On my first few listens, this silence annoyed me, but now, I don't notice it as much, and after all, "The Chase" includes a guest vocalist appearance from Ronnie James Dio. However, when "All The Promises" ended, I was disappointed. The lack of a powerful ending leaves me feeling empty. Not even the way the lyrics try to summarize the story about love and desire can do it for me.

Now, having said all that, I have listened to this album multiple times, and as time has gone on, this release has gotten stronger. If you are tempted to pick up OM II, I urge you to listen to it more than twice -- probably five times is what did it for me. The complaints I have about this release still stick regarding muddy sound and the final track being anti-climatic musically. I am planning to put this album aside for a couple of months now. Only time will tell if this should have been rated higher than the B I am giving it today.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Paul Hanson 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 Rhino, and is used for informational purposes only.