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I didn't believe in love... until now - 87%

EzraBlumenfeld, November 16th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Capitol Records (Remastered)

I first heard of Queensrÿche when their songs continuously popped up on my "Suggested" list on iTunes, but I never really gave them a listen. Then I heard "Silent Lucidity" on the local classic rock station, and was thoroughly unimpressed with the song. Despite this, I saw Sam Dunn and BANGERTV's show Metal Evolution run a profile on the band during their "Progressive Metal" episode, and Sam talked continuously of the album Operation: Mindcrime, citing it as a key album in the history of metal. Now I was intrigued. I happened upon a used CD copy of the album with a broken jewel case at a sale held by a local used book store, and I picked up the CD for a mere two dollars along with a copy of Judas Priest's Painkiller.

When I first popped the used CD into my also-used Sony CD player, I was bored to death by the somewhat dragging intro "I Remember Now," which, unbeknownst to me, was setting up an intricate storyline that I was not yet aware of. But when the first power chords of "Anarchy-X" thundered through the speakers I listened intently. When I heard the harmonies at the end, and at beginning of "Revolution Calling," I decided to listen to the whole thing. While I found a handful of tracks from the 15-song album to be a little bland, the rest delivered on and exceeded my expectations.

While maybe doing their job in setting up the story, songs like the title track and "Spreading the Disease" are overrated and very uncreative for a band like 'Rÿche. While singer Geoff Tate overuses, reuses, and mispronounces many lyrics throughout the album's nearly one-hour running time, his voice is powerful and well-used, like a mixture of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Geddy Lee (Rush). Guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo play some complicated, aggressive prog-metal riffs along with trading solos and epic harmonies on a few occasions. "Speak" is a masterpiece both lyrically and instrumentally, with a complex chugging riff and plenty of shreddin'. "The Mission" is a beautiful, emotional tune with an earworm chorus that was designed to be an anthem. "Suite Sister Mary" is, like the name suggests, a suite, and the best composition on the album; it perfectly blends eerie acoustic/clean riffs and aggressive, NWOBHM-like overdrive with an operatic female voice to accompany Tate's, and even a choir in the background to create a truly haunting atmosphere throughout its nearly-11-minute length. "The Needle Lies" is the fastest and most purely metal song on Mindcrime (\m/!). "Electric Requiem" is extremely underrated, featuring an incredibly dark dual-guitar harmony in its second half. "Eyes of a Stranger" finishes with a bang.

This is a concept album, but it takes awhile to realize that for the unknowing listener. It took a summary I found on Wikipedia for me to get the gist of it, and I wish I hadn't. I story is thoroughly depressing, and driven by protagonist Nikki's facepalmingly bad mistake of agreeing to assassinate politicians in exchange for... heroin? However, the poor storyline can be brushed aside because of the incredible instrumental work.

All in all, this is a great album in terms of songwriting and is definitely an essential turning point in the history of the genre.