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Queensryche -Operation Mindcrime II

Label: Rhino Records
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: Walter Fig


Well, we all know the Queensryche story. They reached their peak with "Operation Mindcrime", their definitive concept album that launched them into mainstream MTV in the late 80s/early 90's. Most regard it as their finest hour and more claim that they have been steadily declining since then with a string of releases that are far from their classic/progressive metal roots and leaning more towards a pseudo-modern hard rock vibe. For over a decade, old school Queensryche die-hards have been crying out for something at least in the same musical vein as Mindcrime or even its more commercially successful follow-up, "Empire".

 

Finally, over a decade later, Queensryche decides to give in and give the fans what they want. A heaver, more metal outing entitled "Operation Mindcrime 2", continuing with the storyline from the original masterpiece work. Queensryche tried to duplicate the sound of that time as accurately as possible with their current line-up (void of Chris DeGarmo who did a majority of the writing for the original "Mindcrime"), even going out to hunt down old equipment similar or exact to what they recorded with at the time of the original "Mindcrime".

"Mindcrime 2" is dark – darker than "Tribe" and from the beginning of 'I'm American', you can hear that familiar lead tone that sounds identical to DeGarmo's lead tone from the original "Mindcrime". The album is considerably heavier and more musically complex than their last three or four outings. The riffs are faster, heavier and the leads while at times tasteful are largely blistering, straight out of the old-school Queensryche style, but Mike Stone actually adds a little more of a neo-classical approach in some of the leads which is completely new. It has been a long time since I've heard such over-the-top solos from Queensryche. The riffs are dense and dark, not necessarily as fast as those of the original "Mindcrime", but much heavier than I thought Queensryche would do nowadays.

Geoff Tate's vocals sound extremely good. He is singing higher and sounds younger than he has in many years. Of course, with age, the range does decrease but he pushes out some suprising notes. His voice particularly stands out in 'The Chase' as does the voice of guest vocalist Ronnie James Dio. I swear that both of these guys sound better and are singing higher than either of them have in a decade. Unbelievable display of vocal talent in that tune.

All in all, the mood and grittiness of the first "Mindcrime" is intact, but mixed with a modern flavor. The guitar tone, the production does a good job of re-creating that vintage Ryche sound, but the material itself is a bit slower and darker in a good way! I was very skeptical at first, but Queensryche truly impressed me with this release. It's a good blend of the old Queensryche with what I'd consider the good qualities of their post-"Empire" albums. Queensryche has turned a new (kind of?) leaf with this album and I'm excited to see if they musically plan on continuing in this direction.

 
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