Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

WHAT?! - 20%

RedRedSuit, September 29th, 2016

I am a huge fan of the original '80s opus, Operation: Mindcrime. In fact, that probably goes without saying for anyone interested in this sequel album here. If you haven't heard that one -- please proceed to the reviews section of that album now.

Still here? Thank you for reading.

Like, I assume, many other fans of the original album and the band near the peak of its fame in the late '80s and possibly early '90s -- or maybe in its thrashier pre-Mindcrime incarnation -- by the time Mindcrime II rolled around in 2006, I'd lost track of Queensrÿche. Their main musical force, or at least half of it -- guitarist Chris DeGarmo -- had been long gone, and the band hadn't produced anything with traction (commercially or critically) in a decade at least. Simply put, I didn't care about Queensrÿche any longer, and nor did essentially anyone else.

Yet, seeing the news of a sequel to Mindcrime made my ears perk up immediately. I'm sure I wasn't the only one. Cynical cash grab? Sure, that was a possibility, but on the other hand, these guys know OM is their crowning achievement, so if they went ahead and made a sequel, there must be something worthy there, right? Still, I waited for reviews, and when they came out, they weren't very kind. So, at the time, I skipped it. Nevertheless, Mindcrime is Mindcrime, and back in the present day (2016) I made use of Spotify to finally give this thing a spin. I even gave it a couple of spins.

Operation: Mindcrime II is the type of album that makes one hate having to write a review. I like writing good reviews, and it's fun to write bad reviews too -- what's the meanest, yet still true, thing I can say about this atrocity, right? The problem with Mindcrime II is that listening to it is such a banal chore that it's not even fun to write *specific* bad things about, as that would require paying attention to *specific* things about this album... and that's a tall order, given that this album is generically, un-memorably bad.

For example, could I criticize the story? Probably. The original's plotting was nothing particularly intricate either, but it had a grittiness and mix of drama and realism to it, not to mention some strong social commentary, that made one pay attention and empathize with the characters and the protagonist Nikki in particular. The sequel? Not so much. Nikki gets out of jail/the nuthouse/whatever, meets the ghost of the dead Sister Mary, has some run-ins with the law -- I guess -- and goes after Dr. X in a fit of vengeance. There is a violent climax, of sorts, and then the album spends another 20 minutes on a sappy and depressing denouement.

The whole thing is just so... forced. Did you know Dr. X, the villain, is played by Ronnie James Dio on this one? Sounds amazing, doesn't it? RJD gives it his best, and his best is very good, but participating in a Broadway-like sing-off on an otherwise forgettable track (The Chase) is not how you use a guest spot from The Man With The Golden Lungs.

Bringing back the character Mary, again sung by Pamela Moore, is -- you guessed it -- forced. She does a great job, but she playing a fucking ghost. And there is even an afterlife (or something like that) conversation between Nikki and Mary at one point. It's just too cheesy.

Of course, the lameness of the storytelling -- which also seems to be lacking in social commentary, or maybe I just couldn't focus my mind on the lyrics due to the mediocrity of the music -- could be forgiven on the strength of the songs. I swear to you that there is not one song on this album that I would keep in my library. Mindcrime may have been a prog concept album nominally, but it was also full of well written sing-along-friendly songs, many of which could have been singles. There is nothing like that here. There are attempts, but it just doesn't work. Geoff Tate's voice doesn't soar and seems buried in the production, while the instrumentation completely lacks character. Listen to Mindcrime, or even the relatively soft Empire, and you know you're listening to Queensrÿche. Listen to this... and you have no idea; if not for Tate, it could be anyone, or no one. It could be computer-generated.

There are no hooks, no memorable choruses, and certainly no progressive expressionism to compensate for lacking those things. The music is just sort of... there.

Now, if you know the history of this album, you might be thinking to yourself, "oh, this guy just knows that this isn't really a QR album but more of a Geoff Tate solo project, so he's projecting that onto his thoughts of the music." Interestingly enough, I actually had no idea about any of that stuff when listening to it. Once I did finish listening to it and stopped marveling at its mediocrity, I did of course look it up online. Only then did I learn that:

- The songs are written not by the core of Queensrÿche -- which did still include old-time members Wilton (guitar), Rockenfield (drums), and Jackson (bass) -- but largely by the producer Jason Slater and new guitarist Mike Stone. Of course, Geoff Tate (vocals) is a major creative force as always, but lacking DeGarmo it just doesn't work... and adding outsiders into the mix is disastrous.
- Moreover, the other band members were against the very concept of this album and only consented to it upon being given an ultimatum by Geoff Tate.
- The credited drummer, Scott Rockenfield -- who has a very distinctive sound on other albums -- doesn't actually appear on the album! It's just some session people or even drum machines.
- Even Michael Wilton barely plays on the album!

So there you have it. A cynical cash grab and a glorified Tate solo album... an album simultaneously riding on its predecessor's coat-tails yet failing to even mimic it convincingly. It just sucks. Thankfully, the original is in no way besmirched by this monstrosity, but it is sad that now no good sequel could ever possibly come out in the future. In a way, this kills the franchise for good.