Hello again, and welcome your eyes back to my tasteful and contemporary music reviews. It’s the intern that never sleeps. This week I was incredibly excited to review my editor’s pick because of how much I enjoyed my last review of the Who’s self-titled project “Who”. So when he sent over Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” (1988), I slumped into my chair. “Not a hairband. I can’t… I can’t do a hairband,” I thought to myself, but nevertheless I need to get paid so I queued the project up and went on a drive.
- The introduction to this album is *bananas*. Starting off with dialogue, this intro sets the scene for this anthology and allows the listener to be engulfed in the horror story they are telling. I know this is cheating, but I actually restarted this intro a few times because I really wanted to understand if there were any background aspects that I needed to pay attention to. As the scene sets, it’s clear that we are hearing this from the perspective of someone who is in a mental hospital.
- I eat my words, period. This album tricked me, made me think that it was going to just be a horror anthology, but no. Queensryche’s message becomes multi-faceted and intriguing, but one can’t help but get distracted by (checks notes) Geoff Tate’s vocals, as he powers through songs like “Revolution Calling,” while providing lyrics that send chills up your arms. It took me a few listens through to truly understand lyrics like “but now the holy dollar rules everyone’s lives / gotta make a million don’t matter who dies,” because I wasn’t sure if the message was the evils of capitalism or if this was a message on how some churches exploit the poor for financial gain. Either way, I was hooked.
- Okay, folks, we found the best run of the album. Tate is able to communicate fear into his delivery in “Speak,” “Spreading The Disease,” and “The Mission,” and I was rocking along before I knew it. On “Speak” Queensryche goes in on fascism and it almost feels like he is calling on others who have been impoverished by the church and the government. The enemy seems to be institutions and lyrics like “the system we learn says we are equal under law / but the streets are reality / the weak and poor will fall,” further proves that point for me.
- As I get deeper into the album, I am introduced to another element of this story that I hadn’t picked up on yet. “The Needle Lies” adds the nuance of drug addiction and changed how I viewed the beginning of this album as well as the way other songs could have been interpreted like “Suite Sister Mary.” The lyrics “the needle keeps calling me back / to bloody my hands forever” give you the impression that the story we thought we knew wasn’t complete. Mixing the mental institution, with a specific hatred of the church and the government, as well as the fixation on Mary, the story is captivating as it reels you in on the message they are trying to send.
- The album is winding down and I am left with an incomplete feeling. It ends with the lead remembering what he did and facing the reckoning. Yet, I want to know more. What happens after this? “People always turn away / from the eyes of a stranger / afraid to know what lies behind the stare.” Whew. That line from “Eyes of a Stranger” left me thinking. I feel fine with this ending however because it feels like real life and there is never actually an end. You’re left waiting for the next thing.
What a great project. I have already recommended it to my friends and I listen to “Speak” and “Spreading the Disease” constantly now. The concept was so interesting and I am so glad that I gave this album a chance. What did y’all think of Queenryche’s message? Did you find it as captivating as I did? Are you fans of rock anthologies and if so, which one should I check out next?
Listen to Queensryche : Operation MindcrimeZRock interns shares her first listens to some of our classic favorites. Check out her take on @Queensryche Operation : Mindcrime #tbt #listen #queensryche #mindcrime #listen #nowplayingClick To Tweet