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Operation: Mindcrime II
April 2006
Released: 2006, Rhino
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Has it really been 18 years since Queensryche released what is one of, if not, the best concept metal alums of all time – OPERATION: MINDCRIME?!? Since that monumental album, Queensryche have never had an album that had the same impact in the metal community. EMPIRE did have commercial success, but it was a step down to many of those into the more aggressive side of Queensryche’s progressive metal. So how does OPERATION: MINDCRIME II fair? In a nutshell - it is easily the band’s best album since OM:I but it does not deliver the same punch as the original!

Musically this album is the closest they’ve come to the style on OM:I and many of us have been waiting for, and in fact wondering if, this day was even possible. We wondered if the band even had it in them to drop the dreary slow and boring style they turned to over the past 10+ years and get down to some serious progressive metal. Surprisingly, the band can still cut it in this style but in places, they do waste some time with boring filler. The band obviously realized that fans want this what with the huge success of performing the entire OM:I album live on stage over the past few years. I can’t say exactly what difference guitarist Chris DeGarmo might have had on the outcome of this album, but it is really too bad that DeGarmo isn’t on here. Even if he could of appeared as a guest writer or even if he contributed some solos it could of made this album even better. While solos are on here, there should have been more!

Regarding the storyline, it takes place 18 years after OM:I, which is perfect since it’s been 18 years in the real world since the album came out. So for 18 years our main character, Nikki, has been in jail. We find out that the past 18 years hasn’t really changed him but has only given him time to fester and develop a thirst for revenge. Nikki becomes a free man…what will he do? Rather than spoil anything, I’ll let you figure that out with the CD and lyrics!

Musically the album plays like it’s predecessor with interludes and storyline pieces. Let’s look at some of the highlights (from my point of view anyway). The first song on the CD, "I'm American" was very well chosen because it grabs you right away and is a heavier track. The next one that stands out is “Hostage” which has a slight OM:1 feel as well. “The Hands” begins with the same chording as “Breaking the Silence” on OM:1..this isn’t the only place on here where there ad musical nods to the original, but they are mostly hidden which is too bad. “Signs Say Go” has some grat soaring vocals from Tate, he still has it that's for sure. “Re-Arrange You” starts out with a lot of strings, something what wasn’t so prominent on OM:I. One of the things many have been eager to hear is the duet with vocal god, Ronnie James Dio. On the album, he plays the part of Dr. X and can be heard on "The Chase". Pamela Moore also reprises her role as Sister Mary throughout the album – a welcomed addition for sure! “An International Confrontation” is quite adventurous with duel vocals, heavy parts, orchestrations, and a solo at 1:52 that sounds like Slash did a guest appearance!

There are some filler songs and interludes on here like “Speed of Light” which tempo wise is anything but…more like speed of mud! Then there are the ULTRA-boring moments like “Circles” and “If I Could Change It All” which most will skip past. The album closer is also VERY boring and slow…not grand or epic sounding like you might expect…this makes the album end quite dull. I wish some of these songs could have been replaced with something along the lines of OM:I greats like "Spreading the Disease" and "The Needle Lies". That intensity is not reached as much on here and that is very unfortunate.

Despite some of my misgivings, I am quite glad that Queensryche have returned to follow up the Mindcrime tale and musical style even if it took them 18 years to do so! Since I bought OM:I when it came out, part of what I have to overcome is nostalgia…something that is often impossible to overcome. Either way, Queensryche are back doing what they do best. I hope they can stick with this style from here on out but I am not going to hold my breath.
Track Listing

1. Freiheit Ouvertüre
2. Convict
3. I'm American
4. One Foot in Hell
5. Hostage
6. The Hands
7. Speed of Light
8. Signs Say Go
9. Re-Arrange You
10. The Chase
11. A Murderer?
12. Circles
13. If I Could Change It All
14. An Intentional Confrontation
15. A Junkie's Blues
16. Fear City Slide
17. All the Promises


Geoff Tate - vocals
Michael Wilton - guitars
Mike Stone - guitars
Eddie Jackson - bass
Scott Rockenfield - drums

Pamela Moore as Sister Mary
Ronnie James Dio as "Dr. X"

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