Queensryche is almost to the fullest extent, one of the most underrated hard rock groups of the 80's. Geoff Tate's voice is undeniably one of the greatest voices in rock 'n' roll, starting out originally as an opera singer. With DeGarmo's genuinel all around charisma fused with Rockenfield's solid beats, Queensryche was a group that was out to rock, which is exactly what they did. Queensryche had already released three albums before Mindcrime came out. Their first self titled album was known for songs such as 'Queen of the Reich', and 'The Lady Wore Black'. A couple of videos were made for the very short album, and the record is harder to find now, but all around not a bad release. Next was The Warning, with fair songs and an overall slightly better than average lineup, with one of their better songs being, 'Warning'. The Warning was followed by Rage For Order, which in my eyes, was an overall better album than the Queensryche material previously released, with harder songs such as 'Walk in the Shadows', and 'Surgical Strike', as well as lighter songs such as 'I Dream in Infra-Red'. However, while these releases are quite good, Queensryche's most famous album, Operation: Mindcrime, made the bands mark on the genre as we know it today. It is an abstract concept album, with a few instrumental songs and tracks I like to call plot-progressions, in which there is little or no music and it is used merely to further the plot. The main storyline involves Nikki, a young man who is brought into and underground movement lead by the notorious Dr. X. Nikki spends his time doing missions and various other tasks for the organization, until he finds himself knee deep in quicksand, and in a situation impossible to get out of...
I Remember Now- A plot-progression track, it is just a recording of a scene in a hospital. On the speaker in the background, you can hear a lady calling for a Dr. Blair, which is something to pick up on to tie this track to the final track, 'Eyes of a Stranger'. Nikki is silent until the last few seconds where he says, "I remember now, I remember how it started. I can't remember yesterday, I just remember doing what they told me to".
Anarchy-X- An instrumental piece which has a catchy opening riff and a peppier kind of mood to it. The piece is very short, only about a minute and a half.
Revolution Calling- This is the first piece with the full band in full motion. It has catchy guitar licks throughout the entire song and a well arranged solo. This song also gives Geoff a chance to shine with his powerful voice in the chorus. At this point in the story, Nikki is realizing that there is something else, something he cannot quite explain, but he knows that everything just seems not quite right. The song is geared toward Nikki exploring Dr. X, and about getting done what needs to be done, no matter what the cost.
Operation: Mindcrime- This song is one of my favorites off of the album, in which, if you are listening closely enough, gives the bass the rare chance it gets to shine in the verses. The drums add nicely to the song with syncopated beats almost throughout the whole song, acknowledging how Scott Rockenfield can make things flow extremely well. The song is overall very catchy but at the same time, heavy and almost darker when you factor in the lyrics. O:MC is geared toward Nikki actually getting involved with the underground organization, and getting familiarized with the system on which its foundations are based. Those foundations are: get the job done; eliminate those who stand in the way.
Speak- This song is a faster paced tempo with an opening intro which gets you into the song as soon as it starts playing. At this time, they are basically telling Nikki to show everyone what the organization is about, and let those who oppose who they are dealing with, speaking for the entire organization (Speak the word, the word is all of us). However, this song, if you listen to the album enough, is one that gets a little old after awhile, although still an overall good headbanger.
Spreading the Disease- One of my personal favorite tracks off of the album, and from Queensryche for that matter. This song is another track where the drums really get the chance to shine, both in the intro, verses, and outtro. The song is one of the heaviest on the album, and one of the most thematic with darker more vulgar and explicit lyrics dealing with life on the streets and prostitution. In the intro, Geoff sort of half speaks and half sings a short verse until it goes into the main verse. This is where we introduce two new characters to the main plot, Mary the whore, and Father William. The song pertains strictly to Mary on the run from home working as a prostitute, until she seeks refuge and finds religion with Father William. She becomes Sister Mary, and gives up her old life to start new. The lyrics also deal with how society keeps turning away from the realities of life all around us. A definate tune that you end up blasting when you hear it.
The Mission- The first power ballad of the album, although some could disagree with that, and justifiably so, due to the amount of times the song changes tempo. The song starts slow with an easily identifiable riff to any Mindcrime fan, and incorporates symphony into the song, which flows very nicely. At this point in Nikki's life, he begins to realize that with each and every mission he embraces, he gets more and more tangled into a web that is impossible to escape from. He is also introduced to Sister Mary, which is just another web of problems when they begin to fall in love.
Suite Sister Mary- Another example of how Queensryche can take a song and completely change it around numerous times, and make an instant masterpiece. Definately one of the greatest achievements of this album, extremely efficient, and well arranged. Everything from the slow intro to the harder conversations between Nikki and Mary, and back to the verses again, make this song flow very nicely, but the music is not the only brilliant part of this song. The lyrics are extremely well written and incorporated into the story-line, which is jam packed with new happenings for Nikki. Nikki is ordered to kill Mary, for she knows too much, and yet he must struggle to do what's in his best interest, or follow his emotions and stray away from his mission. In the middle of the song, Geoff Tate sings as Nikki and a female voice (which sounds like a femal carbon copy of Tate) sings as Mary in a back and forth conversation. In this song, Nikki kills Father William and must confront his mission, and his love. Mary knew too much and could not hide her knowledge which would eventually cause the chain of events leading to her doom. Mary pushes Nikki to get it over with and pull the trigger, but he refuses to do it. The song is not my favorite 'ryche song, but it is by far, one of their best.
The Needle Lies- This song starts off with a fast paced drum intro and is a fast song, going by quickly, but an instant hard rocker to get your fist raised into the air. This song is where Nikki starts to deal with the fact that he is in too deep, and just wants out, period. However, Dr. X will not let Nikki walk out on the organization. The whole arrangement is again, very basic, but still creative and well done, and the solo fits well with the song and makes you have that deeper appreciation for the guitarist. An overall great headbanger.
Electric Requiem- WARNING: IF YOU ARE STILL WORKING OUT SOME HOLES IN THE PLOT YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS TRACK REVIEW!
The song is a very short track and is a plot-progression track in which we find out Mary is dead. To draw the conclusion of Mary's death, you must see certain videos. Mary's death is over with and clues of the video as well as the word.........
SUICIDE!!!! flashes over the screen. Also, in 'Breaking The Silence' and 'I Don't Believe In Love', such comments as, "she never said goodbye" and "I didn't do it", were made, which leads us to believe that Nikki was not present at the time of her death. Also Many believe that Nikki killed Mary, but all of my good sources (including other die-hard 'ryche fans with the same outcomes) indicate that it was in fact suicide.
Breaking the Silence- This song is more upbeat than anything, although it is geared toward Nikki starting to deal with the loss of Mary. After about a 25 second intro, it goes into the verse which is very simple guitar-drum synchronation but it picks up more in the chorus which only proves more than ever that Queensryche has always done a great job of arranging everything together. Overall a catchy tune that sticks out in a way that makes it difficult not to want to hear it again.
I Don't Believe In Love- This song sounds somewhat similar to 'Silence', however it is slightly heavier. The guitar kicks off the song with about a 7 second intro and it is easily the melody of the guitar and the lyrics which sticks out in the song. The solo is very well done and the rest of the band sets an almost seperate beat that flows in perfectly with the lead guitars. At this point, Nikki is dealing with Mary's death by pretending that he didn't ever need the love in the first place, and denying killing her to the police. It is a sadder song off of the album but one that shows the true characteristics of Nikki.
Waiting for 22- An instrumental piece focused only on guitars, and no other instrument. It does not further the plot, or have any real purpose on the album, but it is a well organized piece that somewhat resembles 'Call of Ktulu' by Metallica. An overall good song in you're in the mood.
My Empty Room- A minute and a half long ballad about the denial Nikki is going through taking place between the time he is placed into custody to the time where he is back in the hospital. Nikki realizes that he has been caught by the police and does not want to accept the fact that Mary is dead. Musically, there's really not much to say, and lyrically, it is more spoken than anything. A track I classify as a plot-progression.
Hard track to rate but...~4/5~
Eyes Of A Stranger- The final track on the album starts off back in the hospital. The incorporation of strings is in this case another good trait of this song. In the background, you can hear the lady calling the same doctor as she does in 'I Remember Now', which lets us know that Nikki's past is all coming back to him, and if you listen closely enough, you will hear a news cast letting us know he is placed in custody. After the slightly drawn out string intro, it goes into a heavier part of the intro, and turns into a lighter sound with clean guitar in the verses. This song is meant to explain how Nikki is haunted by his past and unfavorable memories that don't seem to fade. The song becomes heavier in the second verse and stays that way throughout almost the remainder of the song, however, the strings are still going, and they flow nicely with the rest of the band. This song is a very well done song and is just another of many examples of Queensryche's ability to organize and orchestrate a song into something great. There are a few more change offs in the song, but it goes back to the same thing. At the very end of the track, we hear Nikki's last words...I Remember Now.
Later Queensryche would record Empire in which they did most of the Mindcrime material that they lacked in the previous tour. They have released several albums after, including some compilations and a live album, but none have really compared to the complete and utter distinctness that Mindcrime brought to us. The sound was like older 'ryche mixed with a blend of new creative ideas. In April of 2006, Queensryche released Operation: Mindcrime II, which is based on Nikki out of jail and out for revenge on Dr. X, whose voice is done by none other than Ronnie James Dio. The album was done without DeGarmo, to the disappointment of many, but overall it proved that no matter what, Mindcrime was unbeatable against any other album of theirs, and against many other bands as well. Mindcrime is one of the greatest concept albums of all time, even when compared to The Wall or Dr. Feelgood (yeah, I was surprised to learn it was a concept album too), and it will go down as one of the most creative and distinctively unique album to ever be released.
OVERALL: OPERATION: MINDCRIME RECIEVES ~10/10~
BTW My theory (I am editing this so I don't know if this conflicts but...) Dr. X used the Mindcrime deal on Mary to make her kill herself.