Queensryche Operation: Mindcrime II

It’s a big bold move for Seattle’s Queensryche to try to create a sequel for their classic 1988 concept album Operation: Mindcrime. That album is not only untouchable as far as rock concept discs go (which isn’t far), but it’s right up there in the annals of heavy metal. The sequel, surprisingly, holds up quite well against the first. The band have intentionally revisited the production sound of the original, creating a clean, crisp crunch of a sound, drums coming through with a shine that is more than a little refreshing. So it sounds great, and the vibe is here, the mood of melodrama, of course, being a bit oppressive at times, but Geoff Tate’s voice is uplifting and mood-altering. As for the "plot,” well, remember the last one? Cryptic, apocalyptic, something about a nun and someone named Dr. X? Yeah, more of that; it’s nonsensical unless Tate’s next to your, cradling you and whispering the storyline into your ear. The thing’s just too long, the last handful of songs really meandering around nothing, trying to create a mood, but just ending up boring. Thing is, the first album never feels too long, and the two discs are almost the exact same length. As well, the first one felt right, like it had a purpose, whereas this one feels forced at times. But hell, it’s way better than expected, and the guest vocals from Ronnie James Dio (who plays Dr. X, and duets with Tate on "The Chase”) are incredible. All things told, it’s a good return to form for a band who’ve put out a lot of stinkers in the past decade. (Rhino)