Queensrÿche’s Operation: mindcrime worth a listen



The album cover shown on the discography page on the Queensryche website, http://www.queensrycheofficial.com.

Maybe you’re interested in getting out of your comfort zone and exploring some different genres of music. Or maybe you like rock but want to explore its different styles.

One heavy metal band I suggest you listen to is Queensrÿche. As with any band, some of their albums are great albums and others are not so great.

The one album I recommend is Operation: mindcrime.

Released in May of 1988 as a rock/opera, or concept album, the album tells a story through connected songs.

This is how Pink Floyd’s The Wall was made; the album told a story the whole time.

The first song on Operation: mindcrime is “I Remember Now,” which opens with the protagonist, Nikki, in a hospital. He lies on his bed, nearly in a catatonic state. He isn’t able to remember anything, except a couple snippets of his past. Then all of his memories come back and he remembers a heroin addict and soon-to-be political radical frustrated with contemporary society due to the economic inequality.

He recalls the corruption and hypocrisy that surrounded him. Nikki had been manipulated into joining what was a supposed secret organization dedicated to Revolution, which leads us into the next two songs: “Anarchy X” and “Revolution Calling.”

“Anarchy X” is just a bit of drums and guitar leading into the intro of “Revolution Calling.”

“Revolution Calling,” the third song on the album, introduces us to Dr. X, the supposed man with the cure, and Nikki starts setting the stage for political action. As he explains near the start of the song, “I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth / But now I’ve seen the payoffs everywhere I look / Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?”

Nikki learns that he can’t trust anyone on his journey. Especially anyone with any type of political power.

In the next song, “Operation MindCrime,” we start to learn that the head of the organization is a mysterious and religious demagogue. who turns out to be Dr. X. The Doctor manipulates Nikki to become an assassin. Whenever Dr. X uses the word “MindCrime,” Nikki no longer has any self-control. Dr. X has full power over him to fulfill any murder command he gives.

“Speak” shows Nikki is carrying out Dr. X’s plans, helping his organization grow. At the same time, Nikki’s ego starts to grow with him getting attached to Dr. X’s plans. In one song lyric, “Religion is to blame,” Nikki isn’t speaking to or talking about the actual God. To him, God is Dr. X. With Nikki being the messenger for Dr. X, he thinks of himself as “the new Messiah” because he is spreading the message of God (Dr. X).

In “Spreading The Disease,” listeners are introduced to Sister Mary, once a prostitute, now a nun. One of Dr. X’s friends, Father Williams, is a corrupt Priest who puts Nikki into a church. The lyrics do a pretty good job of explaining the story, but the name of the song and the characters in this story might make you think that “Spreading The Disease” is maybe something sexual. Instead I think it suggests corruption of religion. You have a corrupt Priest and Dr. X who is making himself seem like the new “God.”

“The Mission” reveals Nikki’s growing affection for Sister Mary. He starts to question what he’s doing and what his “mission” really is. He finally sees Dr. X for who he truly is.

“Suite Sister Mary” opens with Dr. X giving Nikki his next assignment: to kill Mary and the Priest. Dr. X now believes that Mary is a risk. Nikki kills only the priest and lets Mary live. He tells her to leave with him, but she insists on staying. Dr. X catches up with her and does what Nikki couldn’t.

As “The Needle Lies” opens, Nikki and Dr. X have a falling out. Nikki wants to leave but Dr. X knows he can’t: Nikki is an addict who is dependent on what Dr. X supplies. Still Nikki  manages to get away. As he escapes, he wanders down an alley and notices writing on the wall: “Don’t trust the needle, it lies.” He’s so inspired by what he reads that he carves the words into his arm. Whenever he feels he needs a fix, he looks down at his arm, and it tells him not to. “Every time I’m weak, words scream from my arm.”

“Electric Requiem” is one of the album’s shorter songs, but still a very important one. Nikki finds Mary dead and says to himself, “I want what you feel, believe me.” The music does a really good job in showing how everything is starting to go up in flames for Nikki.

“Breaking The Silence” reveals Nikki spending the day in catatonic silence, then just completely snapping. He wanders through the night screaming her name, detached from reality and unable to tell the difference between reality and things popping up in his head.

Nikki starts to believe that Mary’s death was suicide in “I Don’t Believe In Love.” He falls into a depression, trying to forget that Mary ever existed. “I’ll just pretend that she never was real.” This is another of the album’s simpler songs, but it remains powerful with the true meaning.

In “Waiting For 22,” Nikki feels so guilty that he thinks he (and not Dr. X) killed Mary, and waits for the police to find him. “My Empty Room” finds Nikki in an empty room, tracing Mary’s figure on the wall and spacing out while doing it. He starts wondering what he is going to do, all by himself. Who will be there to care for him or be his friend?

The introspective “Eyes of a Stranger” provides the climax. We’re back where we started, and Nikki is staring at himself in the mirror. He doesn’t recognize the person he’s become.

According to the Queensrÿche website, the band will kick off its 2023 Digital Noise Alliance Tour with a March 3 performance in Orlando, Florida. The band will play in Worcester April 7 at the Palladium.