Operation: Mindcrime II
|Operation: Mindcrime II|
|Studio album by Queensrÿche|
|Released||April 4, 2006|
|Recorded||The Compound Studio, Seattle,
Synergy Studios, Redmond, Washington,
The Annex Studios, Menlo Park, California,
|Singles from Operation: Mindcrime II|
Operation: Mindcrime II is the ninth studio album by the American progressive metal band Queensrÿche. It is a concept album and the sequel to the group's 1988 release, Operation: Mindcrime, which had achieved both critical and commercial success. Mindcrime II was released on April 4, 2006 in the United States, on March 29 in Japan, on March 31 in Germany, and on April 3 in the rest of world, with the Rhino Entertainment label providing distribution. The lead single, titled "I'm American," was performed by Queensrÿche during their 2005 tour, which they took in support of the group Judas Priest.
The album resumes the story of Mindcrime, which is that of Nikki, a drug-addicted political revolutionary who had worked as an assassin before his disillusionment and arrest. Nikki had been jailed for the murder of prostitute-turned-nun Sister Mary at the end of Mindcrime, with his sanity slipping as he genuinely didn't know who had killed Mary and had grown close to her before her death. As Mindcrime II begins, eighteen-years-later, Nikki is released from prison and begins to plot his revenge against Dr. X, a manipulative demagogue from the first album that had treated Nikki as his puppet.
Vocalist Pamela Moore reprises her role as Sister Mary for the album. The role of Dr. X (played by actor Anthony Valentine on the first album) went to famous heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio. Singer Geoff Tate handles the vocals for the protagonist.
Following the split between Geoff Tate and the rest of Queensrÿche in 2012, it was revealed in a sworn declaration by producer Jason Slater that the album received very limited contributions from the band members aside from Tate and Mike Stone. Much of the music was recorded by studio musicians due to conflicts between Tate and his band mates. Drummer Scott Rockenfield did not play on the album at all. As well, most of the guitars, including Michael Wilton's tracks, were re-recorded by engineer Mitch Doran. Some of the bass tracks used are demo recordings played by Slater, while the drum track to "I'm American" is a MIDI recording made by Doran that was not originally intended for use on the final album.
The album debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 14, the highest chart position for a Queensrÿche album since Promised Land peaked at No. 3 in 1994. The tracks "I'm American" and "The Hands" have been released as singles, with accompanying music videos being created.
The story picks up eighteen years after the events of Operation: Mindcrime, starting on the day that Nikki is released from prison. During his incarceration, Nikki has been unable to let go of his hatred for Dr. X, a manipulator who has remained rich and powerful within the massively corrupt, materialistic, and hypocritical mass society around him. Nikki still harbors resentment against the American government in particular, which he still views as autocratic and greedy, being simply beyond saving. The training to kill and powerful brainwashing that Nikki had received from Dr. X still has a strong hold over him, with his sanity still much in doubt, but Nikki feels conflicted nonetheless. While he still greatly desires revenge upon Dr. X and wants to see a revolutionary change in his decrepit society, his thoughts drift to Mary.
Nikki lands himself in trouble with the law once again. During his trial, his pleas for mercy and leniency are lost on a judge and jury still remembering his past crimes. This only deepens his disdain for the world around him, with Nikki mulling over the government, the legal system, and Dr. X as he blames all three for all of his problems. After Nikki escapes and finds himself yet again on the run, his own need for revenge coupled by a vision of Mary's ghost (it is initially unclear if this spectre actually exists or is merely a product of Nikki's mind breaking with reality) turns his thoughts toward killing Dr. X.
As a final confrontation gets closer, Nikki starts to have more doubts. He questions himself and wonders if he should own up to the fact that it's also his fault that his life is as bad as it is. Nikki does track down Dr. X, beginning a dramatic chase, and Nikki finally kills him when the seminal moment comes. Yet the murder seems to fail to bring Nikki the solace that he so wants. Wondering whether the killing has really made anything better, Nikki is further consumed by doubt and despair. The ghost of Mary appears again and confronts Nikki. He starts to think that he has crossed the line into pure insanity, with the world holding no escape for his sadness, and he commits suicide. As the album ends, Nikki's spirit is reunited with Mary's, with it being revealed that they achieve some kind of happy end in the afterlife, and they reflect that the only times they were happy before were in the fleeting moments that they were together.
The story of Operation: Mindcrime II was also expanded on with video and actors during Queensrÿche's live performances of the album.
Background and reception
The songs refer back to the previous Mindcrime album frequently, including in the song titles. Opening track "Freiheit Ouvertüre" gets its name given that 'Freiheit' is German for 'Freedom'. Track "I'm American", which was released as a single, alludes to "Revolution Calling" from Mindcrime as the vocalist describes an alternative United States (one with many similarities to the current nation's situation) which, in the fictionalized world of the albums, is immersed in greed and uncaring corruption to the point of being somewhat of a dystopia, where a regular person on the street can't know whom to trust. The psychology of Nikki is summed up in lines such as: "Tried hard to scratch the surface of life, got bloody broken fingernails now".
As stated before, the album's production took place during a moment of deep tension and frustration between the band's members. The rest of the band felt reluctant to add to the original story of Mindcrime and disagreed with the idea of a sequel until they received a 'my way or the highway' ultimatum from frontman Geoff Tate about the project. With producer Jason Slater at the helm, the work received only a small amount of contributions from the band members aside from Tate and Mike Stone. A great deal of material was recorded by studio musicians rather than by the group.
Some critics such as Allmusic reviewer Thom Jurek praised the album, with Jurek particularly citing the guitar work as well as the grim and gritty tone of the lyrics. Jurek additionally labeled the release as "a fitting sequel" and remarked that the band "are absolutely on fire here". Generally positive reviews also came from publications such as About.com, where critic Chad Bowar remarked that the songs "flow perfectly into each other and the story-line is interesting."
The album received some significant commercial success, debuting on the Billboard 200 album chart at #14.
|1.||"Freiheit Ouvertüre"||Eddie Jackson, Jason Slater, Mike Stone||1:35|
|3.||"I'm American"||Slater, Stone, Tate||2:53|
|4.||"One Foot in Hell"||Slater, Stone, Tate||4:12|
|5.||"Hostage"||Jackson, Tate, Michael Wilton||4:29|
|6.||"The Hands"||Slater, Tate, Wilton||4:36|
|7.||"Speed of Light"||Slater, Stone, Tate||3:12|
|8.||"Signs Say Go"||Slater, Stone, Tate||3:16|
|9.||"Re-Arrange You"||Slater, Stone, Tate||3:11|
|10.||"The Chase"||Slater, Stone, Tate||3:09|
|11.||"Murderer?"||Slater, Tate, Wilton||4:33|
|12.||"Circles"||Jackson, Slater, Tate||2:58|
|13.||"If I Could Change It All"||Slater, Stone, Tate||4:27|
|14.||"An Intentional Confrontation"||Slater, Stone, Tate||2:32|
|15.||"A Junkie's Blues"||Slater, Stone, Tate||3:41|
|16.||"Fear City Slide"||Slater, Stone, Tate||4:58|
|17.||"All the Promises"||Slater, Stone, Tate||5:10|
- Band members
- Geoff Tate - vocals
- Michael Wilton - guitars
- Mike Stone - guitars, vocals
- Eddie Jackson - bass guitar, vocals
- Scott Rockenfield - drums
- Additional musicians
- Jason Slater - bass, additional drums, backing vocals
- Mitch Doran - guitars, additional drums, backing vocals, MIDI programming on "I'm American"
- Ashif Hakik - orchestration, keyboards, guitars
- Matt Lucich - drums
- Miranda Tate - backing vocals on "The Hands"
- Jason Slater - production, recording and mixing
- Mitch Doran - engineer
- Chris Wolfe - mixing
- John Greenham - mastering
|2006||Billboard 200 (USA)||14|
|Billboard Top Internet Albums (USA)||14|
|Swedish Albums Chart||18|
|Finnish Albums Chart||26|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||27|
|Oricon Japanese Albums Charts||27|
|Dutch Albums Chart||35|
|German Albums Chart||51|
|Swiss Albums Chart||59|
|Ultratop Belgian Charts||97|
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