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Arguably the best metal concept album of all-time, Queensryche’s OPERATION: MINDCRIME is lauded as the crown jewel of the veteran outfit’s collection and truly set the eclectic metal act on its way to worldwide recognition. Now, some 18 years later, the Seattle-based quintet return with the follow-up, aptly titled OPERATION: MINDCRIME II, easily the most passionate album Queensryche has released in years. That’s not to say, however, that the 17-track offering isn’t sans its problems. Starting out with a metallic anthem unlike anything off of the last few releases, “I’m American” hits heights usually reserved for power metal acts with bravado unseen from this act since the late ‘80s. From there, the storyline is carefully followed with proper musical accompaniment, as the band’s heavy musical prowess, somewhat off from O:M I and noticeably missing ex-guitarist Chris DeGarmo’s presence both on the axe and with the pen more than ever, nonetheless is the most focused and direct since EMPIRE. While the middle of the disc tends to meander, pandering to Broadway musical aspirations instead of chunky rock opera exhibitions, business really picks up on “The Chase”, where the pivotal role of Dr. X is convincingly played by the legendary Ronnie James Dio, whose interplay with Geoff Tate is slightly underwhelming but a metal vocalist fan’s wet dream nonetheless. While the sequel, like many sequels, fails to live up to the original’s massive appeal and overall exuberance, OPERATION: MINDCRIME II is by far the best Queensryche showing in a long time and despite it being overblown at times (especially towards the end), perhaps the band really did have a cinematic or theatrical scope in mind when crafting the second installment. Nevertheless, if you’ve enjoyed the band through thick and thin, there’s no reason why this disc won’t thrill you, but if you’re from the old guard, perhaps you should wait for part two of RAGE FOR ORDER.
- Mike SOS