Operation: Mindcrime

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Operation: Mindcrime
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime cover.jpg
Studio album by Queensrÿche
Released May 3, 1988
Recorded 1987–1988
Studio Kajem/Victory Studios, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania
Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada
Length 59:14[1]
Label EMI Manhattan
Producer Peter Collins
Queensrÿche chronology
Rage for Order
(1986)Rage for Order1986
Operation: Mindcrime
Singles from Operation: Mindcrime
  1. "Eyes of a Stranger"
    Released: April 1988 (UK), May 1989 (US)
  2. "Overseeing the Operation"
    Released: October 1988 (UK)
  3. "I Don't Believe in Love"
    Released: August 1989 (US)
Audio sample
"I Don't Believe in Love"

Operation: Mindcrime is the third studio album by the American progressive metal band Queensrÿche. Originally released on May 3, 1988, the album was reissued on May 6, 2003 with two bonus tracks, and again in 2006 as a deluxe box set.

A concept album and a rock opera, its story follows Nikki, a recovering drug addict who becomes disillusioned with the corrupt society of his time and reluctantly becomes involved with a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders.[2] In January 1989, it ranked at No. 34 on Kerrang! magazine's "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time".[3]

The album was certified by the RIAA as 'gold' a year after its release, and it was certified as 'platinum' in 1991. A sequel, Operation: Mindcrime II, was released on April 4, 2006.


Operation: Mindcrime was recorded digitally on a Sony 24-track digital tape machine. The album was also mixed and mastered in the digital format.[4]

The band shot a one-off promotional video in 1988 for the song "Speak" using performance footage. It did not include a dramatization of any of the story's concepts.

During the tour promoting the 1990 album Empire, Operation: Mindcrime was performed in its entirety. The stage show featured video, animation and guest singer Pamela Moore as Sister Mary. A recording was released as Operation: Livecrime. The story was initially explored in a series of video clips for MTV in the 1989 VHS video, Video: Mindcrime.

In 2006, Operation: Mindcrime was re-released as a deluxe box set, containing the 2003 remaster, a live CD with the album played in its entirety at the Hammersmith Odeon on November 15, 1990, and a bonus DVD containing the 1989 Video: Mindcrime and bonus clips.


The album begins with the protagonist, Nikki, in a hospital. He lies in a near catatonic state, unable to remember anything but snippets from his past. Suddenly, Nikki's memories come flooding back in a torrent ("I Remember Now "). He remembers how, as a heroin addict and would-be political radical frustrated with contemporary society due to the economic inequality, corruption and hypocrisy around him, he was manipulated into joining a supposed secret organization dedicated to revolution ("Anarchy—X ", "Revolution Calling"). At the head of this organization is a mysterious political and religious demagogue known only as Dr. X, who manipulates Nikki through a combination of his heroin addiction and brainwashing techniques to become an assassin. Whenever Dr. X uses the word "mindcrime", Nikki becomes his docile puppet, a state which Dr. X uses to command Nikki to undertake any murder that the Doctor wishes ("Operation: Mindcrime").[4]

As his position within Dr. X organization grows, so does Nikki's ego and adherence to his master's vision of the future ("Speak"). Through one of Dr. X's associates, a corrupt priest named Father William, Nikki is offered the services of a child prostitute-turned-nun named Sister Mary ("Spreading the Disease "). Through his friendship and growing affection toward Sister Mary, Nikki begins to question the nature of what he is doing, seeing that Dr. X has his own nefarious agenda ("The Mission"). Dr. X takes notice and, seeing a potential threat in Mary to his cult of personality, orders Nikki to kill both her and the priest. Nikki goes to Mary's church and kills the priest, but, after confronting Mary, he fails to comply with the command to murder her ("Suite Sister Mary"). He loves Mary and decides to leave the organization with her, so Nikki goes to Dr. X to tell him that they are out. Dr. X, however, reminds Nikki that he is an addict, and that he is the one who can provide him with his daily fix ("The Needle LIes"). Nikki leaves, conflicted and uncertain, and he returns to Mary only to find her dead ("Electric Requiem").[4]

Nikki cannot cope with the loss, as well as the possibility that he himself may have killed her without knowing it (it was later revealed on the Mindcrime at the Moore DVD that Mary killed herself after Dr. X threatened to kill Nikki[5]) and he begins to succumb to insanity. He runs through the streets calling her name ("Breaking the Silence"). The police arrive and attempt to subdue him. A gun is found on Nikki, and they take him into custody under suspicion of Mary's murder and the murders he committed for Dr. X ("I Don't Believe in Love"). Suffering from an almost complete loss of memory, Nikki is put into a mental hospital, where he retraces in his mind his last moments with Mary ("Waiting for 22", "My Empty Room"). Back in the present in the hospital room at the beginning of the story Nikki has regained his memory, but now stares at his image in a mirror, unable to recognise who he is and what he has become ("Eyes of a Stranger").[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal 9/10[7]
Kerrang! 4/5 stars[8]
Metal Forces 9.5/10[9]
Rock Hard (GER) 9.5/10[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[11]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[12]

The album received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Contemporary critics praised the band's musicianship, Geoff Tate's voice, the complex and well-developed storyline and Peter Collins' production.[8][9][10] Rock Hard reviewer remarked how Queensrÿche's music featured "clever breaks, unusual song structures and ingenious arrangements", which was "an unmistakable sign that the band (did) not aim to the taste of the masses, but primarily (wanted) to publish intelligent, artistically demanding albums."[10] Derek Oliver of Kerrang! found some flaws only in the apparently incomplete storyline and wondered if the "highly socio-political" topic could "be enough to clinch the continued support of their existing fan base and turn on a whole lot more".[8] Bernard Doe of Metal Forces stated that Operation: Mindcrime "deserves to stand alongside the likes of The Who’s Quadrophenia and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon for its conceptual brilliance" and lauded Queensrÿche for "injecting new blood into old ideas and stamping their own authority over them."[9]

Modern reviews are equally positive. Sputnikmusic reviewer called it "one of the greatest heavy metal releases to date", which left a "legacy for both the band and the progressive metal genre."[12] AllMusic Steve Huey was sometimes taken aback by the lyrics and political observations "too serious and intellectual for their own good", but wrote that it is "a testament to Queensrÿche's creativity and talent that they can pull off a project of this magnitude."[6] Canadian journalist Martin Popoff appreciated how "the involved, heavy-handed storytelling" was paired "with the band's most urgent, up-front metal display since the Queensrÿche EP", which he considered "quite an accomplishment for a concept record wrapped up in drugs and religion."[7]

The song "I Don't Believe in Love" was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990 in the category "Best Metal Performance".[13]

In the United States, the album was certified Gold a year after its release, and certified Platinum in 1991.[14]


A sequel, Operation: Mindcrime II, was released on April 4, 2006, with Ronnie James Dio taking over the role of Dr. X. The subsequent tour consisted of the band performing both Operation: Mindcrime and its sequel in their entirety, back-to-back, with actors, props, an elaborate stage set, and a video screen. The live act from that tour also portrayed Mary's death clearly for the first time. It was later released on the 2007 DVD Mindcrime at the Moore, which included a recording of Dio's only live performance of "The Chase".

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Remember Now" Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton 1:17
2. "Anarchy—X" (instrumental) DeGarmo 1:27
3. "Revolution Calling" Tate, Wilton 4:42
4. "Operation: Mindcrime" DeGarmo, Tate, Wilton 4:43
5. "Speak" Tate, Wilton 3:42
6. "Spreading the Disease" Tate, Wilton 4:07
7. "The Mission" DeGarmo 5:45
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
8. "Suite Sister Mary" DeGarmo, Tate 10:41
9. "The Needle Lies" Tate, Wilton 3:08
10. "Electric Requiem" Scott Rockenfield, Tate 1:22
11. "Breaking the Silence" DeGarmo, Tate 4:34
12. "I Don't Believe in Love" DeGarmo, Tate 4:23
13. "Waiting for 22" (instrumental) DeGarmo 1:05
14. "My Empty Room" Tate, Wilton 1:25
15. "Eyes of a Stranger" DeGarmo, Tate 6:39




  • Pamela Moore – as Sister Mary
  • Anthony Valentine – as Dr. X
  • Debbie Wheeler – as the Nurse
  • Mike Snyder – as the Anchorman
  • Scott Mateer – as Father William
  • The Moronic Monks of Morin Heights – choir




Country Organization Year Sales
USA RIAA 1991 Platinum (+ 1,000,000)[14]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Kerrang! UK Album of the Year[11] 1988 2
Sounds UK Album of the Year[11] 1988 26
Kerrang! UK The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time[3] 1989 34
Kerrang! UK The Kerrang! 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[11] 1998 70
Terrorizer UK The 100 Most Important Albums of the 80s[11] 2000 No order
Classic Rock UK The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All Time[11] 2001 42
Rolling Stone Germany The 500 Best Albums of All Time[11] 2004 398
Decibel US Hall of Fame[24] 2011 80


  1. ^ CD with EAN 077774864022, time given without pregap
  2. ^ "Reply Declaration of Geoff Tate in Further Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction" (PDF). court declaration. June 12, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Wilding, Phil (January 21, 1989). "Queensrÿche 'Operation: Mindcrime'". Kerrang!. No. 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Chris Degarmo explains "Operation:Mindcrime" in his own words". Metal Hammer. Vol. 3 no. 11. 6 June 1988. Retrieved 2018-05-08. 
  5. ^ Queensrÿche (July 3, 2007). Mindcrime at the Moore (DVD). Moore Theatre, Seattle, Washington: Rhino Entertainment. ASIN B000PITXRS. 
  6. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Operation: Mindcrime - Queensrÿche". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (November 1, 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5. 
  8. ^ a b c Oliver, Derek (21 May 1988). "Queensrÿche 'Operation: Mindcrime'". Kerrang!. No. 188. Retrieved 8 May 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c Doe, Bernard (1988). "Queensrÿche - Operation: Mindcrime". Metal Forces. No. 28. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c Stratmann, Holger (1988). "Review Album: Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime". Rock Hard (in German). No. 27. Retrieved May 10, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime". Sputnikmusic. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 2018-05-10. 
  13. ^ MacDonald, Patrick (January 12, 1990). "Soundgarden Nomination: The Growth of Local Rock". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  14. ^ a b "RIAA Searchable Database: search for Queensryche". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime". Hitparade.ch (in German). Media Control Charts. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime (Album)". Swedishcharts.com. Media Control Charts. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime (Album)". GfK Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Media Control Charts. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Album – Queensrÿche, Operation: Mindcrime". Charts.de (in German). Media Control Charts. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Queensrÿche Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved 2018-05-08. 
  20. ^ a b "Queensryche Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  21. ^ AA.VV. (25 April 2006). Album Chart-Book Complete Edition 1970~2005. Tokyo, Japan: Oricon. ISBN 978-487-1-31077-2. 
  22. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 48, No. 8, June 11, 1988". Library and Archives Canada. June 11, 1988. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b "Queensrÿche Chart History: Mainstream Rock". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved 2018-05-08. 
  24. ^ Chase, Jesse (24 August 2011). "Queensrÿche – "Operation: Mindcrime"". Decibel. Retrieved 2018-05-13. 

External links[edit]