When we last left Nikki, he was sentenced to a home for the criminally insane for the murders of several high-profile public figures. Nikki was also deep in self-inflicted torture over the death of Sister Mary, the woman he loved. Most tragic of all, Dr. X, the man behind “Operation: Mindcrime” had gotten away with it all.
Released in 1988, Seattle rock band Queensrÿche released what many thought to be their defining album, Operation: Mindcrime. It was a concept album telling the story of a drug addict named Nikki who is duped into becoming a pawn of the sinister Dr. X in his plan to overthrow the government.
Every song on Operation: Mindcrime is amazing, with lyrics that both advance the story and reflect the political atmosphere of 1988 America. It was a rare feat for a concept album to have songs that could advance the story as well as be strong enough to stand alone. In 1989, "Eyes of a Stranger” peaked at 35 on the charts.
Queensrÿche released many albums after Operation: Mindcrime, but were never able to recapture the magic of Nikki, Mary, and Dr. X. It was only a matter of time before they decided to revisit their iconic characters and, 18 years later, they did just that.
Released in 2006, Operation: Mindcrime II picks up the story the day Nikki is released from prison. His thoughts are stuck bouncing between two compelling forces: mourning Mary and killing Dr. X. Do not worry; I never give “spoilers”.
The story is hard to follow and harder to believe. While the first Mindcrime followed a certain realistic logic with its story, the fact that Nikki is even released after killing numerous politicians and priests requires too large a suspension of disbelief on the part of the listener.
This is an album though, not a movie, so enough about story, let’s just get to the music. Having not heard Queensrÿche since Empire, I must say I was pleasantly shocked that they have not mellowed after the success of “Silent Lucidity”, but rather got heavier. This is actually both a plus and a minus.