What a saga! For years I’ve listened to my brother-in-law tell me how good these guys are. So when I saw Mindcrime II was up for review I jumped at the chance to hear for myself. And I must say that they do indeed rock and have something to say as well. I did my homework for this one, reaching into said brother-in-law's CD collection for “research” material, so that I could get the whole effect of Operation: Mindcrime.
I began with Mindcrime I and gave it a solid listen, reading the lyrics as I bopped my head to the music, which rocks a little harder than the second album. Queensryche has also put out a box set of Mindcrime I to help aid the story along. The box comes with a complete lyrics book, a video of the live performance and a live CD. Very helpful for those new to Queensryche and just plain awesome for fans. I was taken into Queensryche's world of drugs and sinister beings, as I followed our hero Nikki as he began to remember exactly how he came to be in a mental institution.
The story of Nikki, a junkie who becomes the puppet of Dr. X, doing his bidding and killing a good number of people along the way, is long and fascinating, so I’ve got to try to condense it here, so as not to go off on some tangent about politics and government crooks. Nikki has an epiphany about the wrongness of his actions after killing a prominent individual who was connected to his beloved Mary. He turns on Dr. X, but fails to stop him, which results in the death of Mary. Nikki winds up being captured and tried for his crimes, thus landing in the loony bin and bringing us to the beginning of…( drum roll please).
Operation: Mindcrime II stars off with “Freiheit Ouverture”, which sets the mood of the album with its slow, dark opening and killer strings section. From there we hear the release of Nikki and launch right in to the first full track on the album and one of its most rocking, “I’m American”. It is fuelled by killer guitar solos and Geoff Tates' rapid-fire vocals, which hit hard in their portrayal of politicians and the government; there are some key lines that pretty much sum it all up. “If you voted for the man, you’re wasting your time. / He’s got his fingers dipped in everyone’s pie” sounds kind of familiar and recent, doesn’t it? Sorry moving on, I said I wouldn’t get into it.