Queensrÿche – Operation Mindcrime II
Before I put pen to paper to write down my thoughts on this latest offering by Seattle’s finest, I gave this whole affair quite a few listens. You see, when I first heard the original “Operation: Mindcrime” opus I remember not instantly being blown away by it but the album grew on me with each spin and has now become one of my all time favourite platters. And the same first impressions apply to this here second part but once again these impressions started to fade the more I listened to the record. Like its predecessor, “Operation: Mindcrime II” is a cleverly constructed piece of work not in the least because of the excellent vocal performances by (of course) Geoff Tate, Pamela Moore and Ronnie James Dio (who shares the vocals with Geoff on “The Chase”). This little collaboration between Ronnie and Geoff was enough to whet this here scribbler’s appetite before hearing a single note.
I have to admit however that a some present day metal influences have found there way into the sound of “O: MII” but that’s only natural cause after all this is 2006 and not 1988! Fortunately these influences are very limited and the overall sound is very close to that of the original release with plenty of orchestral parts, choirs, duets between Geoff and Pamela (who even handles part of the lead vocals on the album all by herself), the excellent axe work of both Michael Wilton and Mike Stone and a well oiled rhythm section. Especially Scott Rockenfield deserves an extra mention because of his typical drum sound which really shines on this album.
Picking out favourites isn’t an easy task cause each song is part of the story that runs through the album but still I’d like to share my opinion on some of the tracks. “I’m American” and “Sing Say Go” are amongst the platters heaviest, most straight-forward tracks while on “Hostage”, “The Hands” and “A Junkie’s Blues” the band re-introduces the Queensrÿche sound of old. “Re-Arrange You” is a very beautiful s but nevertheless quite powerful and at the same time refined song with first class orchestration and guitar playing. On “If I Could Change It All” Pamela Moore takes up the starring role and this track is simply brilliant! Geoff Tate delivers one of his finest vocals of the album during a duet with the aforementioned miss Moore on “ An International Confrontation”. Just like on the original Mindcrime, these duets give the album a definite surplus value.
The platter’s gems however were saved for last: “Fear City Slide” (in the vein of “Jet City Woman”) and the semi-ballad “All The Promises”. On the latter Geoff and Pamela once again share the microphone and the acoustic atmosphere of this track makes sure the album comes to and end on a high note.
Bottom line is that you have to give this disc a chance to grow on you and when you do I’m sure you, like me, will agree that this is another milestone in Queensrÿche history!