QUEENSRŸCHE — Operation: Mindcrime (review)

QUEENSRŸCHE — Operation: Mindcrime album cover Album · 1988 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
"Operation: Mindcrime" has often been hailed as one of the 'founding fathers, so to speak, of progressive metal - its intriguing concept and flawless realization more akin to vintage progressive rock than straightforward heavy metal. A dark, convoluted, positively dystopian tale out of Orwell's "1984", whose world view is best summed up by the chilling lyrics to "Spreading the Disease", it is also a strong, stark political statement that goes against the grain of Eighties hedonism and heedless faith in unbridled consumerism.

In 1988, when the album came out, Queensryche were at the top of their game: an extremely tight outfit spearheaded by the immensely talented guitarist and composer Chris De Garmo and the exceptional pipes of Geoff Tate - one of the very few vocalists in the genre to prove himself much more than a simple screamer in the Rob Halford mould. Though their second full-length album, "Rage for Order", already pointed to a definitely more progressive direction for the band's music, but nothing could have prepared the audience for something like "Operation: Mindcrime". With this release, Queensryche showed the metal world they were not afraid of pushing the envelope by creating a record which flew in the face of most heavy metal stereotypes, with lyrics that made you think accompanied by powerful, brilliantly executed music - miles away from the nihilistic violence of many thrash metal outfits, or the empty posing of hair-metal bands.

The highlight of the album is also the one track which comes closer to 'traditional' prog, the 11-minute long, hauntingly beautiful "Suite Sister Mary", which also includes a choir and an orchestra (directed by Michael Kamen) performing Giuseppe Verdi's menacing "Dies Irae". The remaining tracks are more in a classic metal vein, aggressive and energetic, yet sharply intelligent - with special mentions for the rousing "Revolution Calling" (which opens the album with a bang), the above- mentioned "Spreading the Disease" with its disturbing, half-whispered middle section, and the two closing songs, "I Don't Believe in Love" and "Eyes of a Stranger". Needless to say, the performances of the individual band members are impeccable, with Geoff Tate proving himself as one of the greatest heavy metal singers of all time.

Such a masterpiece was hard to repeat, even for such a talented band as Queensryche - who, in the years that followed, never released anything as powerful or impressive (even if most of their later output is of more than respectable quality). However, "Operation: Mindcrime" is as close to perfection as any self-respecting metal fan can expect, and one of the undisputed landmark albums of the genre. An essential listen.

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Raff wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thank you very much, guys!
Pekka wrote:
more than 2 years ago
A very good review indeed, I'll have to re-listen to this with my rediscovered interest in classic heavy metal...
Negoba wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review of one of my favorite albums of all time!!!

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