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In 1988 Queensryche released Operation: Mindcrime. In my opinion, the greatest metal concept album ever and one of the great metal albums ever released! It also happens to be my favourite album of all time. It’s undoubtedly their magnum opus, and they have never managed to quite capture its brilliance in any release since.
In fact recent efforts such as “Tribe” and “Q2K” have not gone down well, at all. So when they chose now, after weak releases and without the legendary Chris DeGarmo on the axe to follow up Mindcrime with a sequel, expectancy was less than high. I also had fairly low expectancy. I mean some say they’ve not released as good album since Promised Land, and Mindcrime was their last great work. There was no way they were going to pull this off was there?
Well, they’ve managed to pull off the best album they’ve in a decase. But personally, I think this has got to be the best album since the original Mindcrime. While it doesn’t match the original it’s still fair to say… QUEENSRYCHE ARE BACK!!! The Queen of the Rhyche is ruling once more, and I’m glad!
Well as far as the story. Well Nikki has been released 18 years after his original incarceration. He finds himself in a world not so dissimilar as far as governmental leadership especially to the one he left in ’88. He goes out to seek the truth, looking for answers about his past life. I’d say more but I wont spoil it for all of you.
The atmosphere is built up perfectly in “Fahrenheit Overture” and then in the bizarre 8second track “convict” which consists of him being let go. But then comes the stomping anthem “I’m American” and it starts us off in style. It’s short, heavy and gets you going. It’s catchy as anything, I’m a Brit and proud of it and it managed to get me singing “I’m American! I’m American!”
“One Foot in Hell” is quite bluesy and is slower than it’s predecessor, but it’s a good track. Though the chorus is a bit weak, the verse is very slick. “Hostage” is another very strong track and the chorus is very memorable. “The Hands” is again another good track, it’s not super fast or stomping like “I’m American” but it’s slick, memorable and catchy. They both show off that Geoff Tate is still the best, in my opinion.
“Speed of light” is one of the weakest tracks on the album. It’s just mundane and seems not to have a real structure. However, the super fast and super slick “Signs Say Go” follows. One of the strongest tracks on the whole albums. It’s insanely catchy, lighting quick and Geoff Tate’s vocals are superb. “Re-arrange You” is slower but no less catchy and is another high quality song.
“The Chase” is the highlight of the album. Here we have a vocal duet between two of metal’s greatest vocalists Geoff Tate and Ronnie Dio. The two work brilliantly well together and Dio’s epic, wise and purely amazing voice is perfect for DR X. It’s difficult to choose who to sing along to. “Murder?” is a great track though not my favourite. It achieves what it set’s out to do but the verses are perhaps not to my taste, but Tate’s vocals once again drip with emotion.
Both “Circles” and “If I could Change it all” are just again mundane. Even though Pamela Moore’s vocals are once again superb. They are displayed on a much greater track in the form of the sizzling “An intentional confrontation.” The duel vocals work perfectly well, Moore and Tate just go together. “Junkie’s Blues” is a beautiful song and a real tension builder. It prepares for “Fear City Slide” which has another of these BIG catchy chorus’ that get me singing along. Another great bit of vocals by Tate.
“All the Promises” was the big disappointment to me. I thought they needed to end an a really good track. Considering last time they had “Eye’s of a stranger” to close, this is a big disappointment. Despite the impressive vocal work.
All in all with a few notable exceptions this is an album full of great songs. It’s not quite the masterpiece its predecessor was, but it’s still a great album. It’s quite a masterpiece in it’s own right, despite the weaker tracks. All in all, I’d say it was the album of the year so far.