|Review: Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime II|
|Operation: Mindcrime II|
Label: Rhino Records
Year released: 2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: May 7, 2006
Reviewed by: Pierre Bégin
for:Operation: Mindcrime II
Rated 2.6/5 (52.09%) (43 Votes)
18 years after the release of the original concept album "Operation: Mindcrime", Queensrÿche is finally back with a sequel to this masterpiece aptly named "Operation: Mindcrime II". But does the band succeed in recreating the magic that they did back then? This is a huge task considering that this band, in my own opinion (and many other die hard fans by the way), has not released a good album since "Empire" in 1990. Well I can include "Promised Land" in 1994. We must also remember the absence of one of the founding members, Chris DeGarmo (now replaced by Mike Stone), who was one of the main songwriters of the original "Operation: Mindcrime".
I won't go in depth about the storyline here, but I'll just say that the main character Nikki is finally out of prison, 18 years after being imprisoned (well, if Nikki was a Canadian citizen, he would have been freed a long time ago with our excessively tolerant system!!! (-;). Once out of jail, he's back on the streets and wants his revenge on Dr. X. The tale is inspired by current social and political climates like the first one was back in the 80s.
The nearly one-hour long album starts with the instrumental and orchestral "Freiheit Ouvertüre", followed by the heavy driven "I'm American", the first single off this CD. Wow, it's been a long time since I heard Queensrÿche on fire like on this one! This song includes a nice guitar harmony between Michael Wilton and Mike Stone.
The 17 tracks CD (there are some interludes like on the first "Operation: Mindcrime") has many great moments and some of the highlights are "On Foot In Hell", "Hostage", the second single, and my favourite ones "The Hands", "Re-Arrange You" and "The Chase" which include a nice duet between Nikki and Dr. X, the latter very well interpreted by Ronnie James Dio. The emotional conclusion of the album is very good with tunes like "If I Could Change It All", the epic "An Intentional Confrontation" with a wonderful lead guitar solo at the end, "A Junkie's Blues", "Fear City Slide" and the acoustic "All The Promises", where Geoff Tate and Pamela Moore (who plays Sister Mary like on the first one), makes for a beautiful soft finale to this saga. By the way Pamela sings on a couple of tracks on this CD. I like her performance a lot, especially on "If I Could Change It All". Musically speaking, "Operation: Mindcrime II" is in the vein of the first "Mindcrime" album (standard tuning, heavy/progressive driven beat, orchestrated parts and dual guitar harmonies and vocals).
My biggest deception is the production. The overall sound of the mixing and the recording (especially the drums) is a bit thin and far from what Queensrÿche did back with the original "Mindcrime" opus and "Empire" as well. Nevertheless, it is reasonably tolerable. The overall packaging is excellent; nice cover art similar to the first one and a nice booklet.
To wrap it up, this is a surprisingly good yet not perfect release and a very welcome one from this Seattle band. With "Operation: Mindcrime II", Queensrÿche achieve to deliver an astonishing sequel to their classic album released back in 1988 with high-quality songwriting, and finalize the story line of the "Mindcrime" saga successfully. If you expect a CD as good as the original one, you'll be disappointed. Sequels never or rarely outperform the original, especially a huge classic like this one. But with repeated listening, this album shines with many great tracks and it will grow on you. Queensrÿche is finally back on track with this CD and I just hope they can stay the course! I can't wait to see them perform "Operation: Mindcrime" I and II live on stage.
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