On May 3, 1988, "Queensrÿche" released their third album, "Operation: Mindcrime".
The album is considered one of the greatest albums in metal and is ranked 34th on "Kerrang" magazine's list of the greatest metal albums of all time and 42nd on the "Classic Rock" list of the greatest rock albums of all time.
It is one of the most creative albums in metal, with writing quality and complexity at the highest levels this genre has ever known. An album that has greatly influenced many prog metal bands including "Dream Theater", and we even dare say that without this album "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" would probably wouldn't have happened.
This album was a huge leap forward from the band's previous album "Rage for Order", which was released two years earlier. The level of complexity and sophistication in the writing of Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton strives for genius. The playing ability of the DeGarmo and Wilton has come into perfect sync and Geoff Tate proves that he is one of the great singers in metal.
This is a concept album and a rock opera, which tells the story of Nikki, a drug addict, who is recruited by a revolutionary group to assassinate political leaders.
The album borrows quite a few ideas from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" both musically and in terms of the plot story, when in both cases the main character is addicted to drugs, with severe hallucinations, and is on the verge of losing his mind.
The album opens up with "I Remember Now" - the introduction to the plot, in which Nikki is in a hospital, in an almost catatonic state, unable to remember anything from his past. But suddenly, the memories start to come back to him ...
From there we move on to the "Anarchy-X" an instrumental track designed to put the listener into the atmosphere of the story, which begins immediately afterward with "Revolution Calling". Nikki begins to recall how as a heroin addict and as a frustrated man in a corrupt, hypocritical, and economically unequal society, he was influenced to join a seemingly secret organization whose so-called goal was to create a political revolution. The "mysterious" organization is headed by the evil "Doctor-X" who manipulates Nikki to carry out political assassinations for him, while controlling him through a combination of hypnosis, brainwashing, and doses of heroin to which he is addicted.
In the theme song - "Operation: Mindcrime", it is explained how every time Doctor-X uses the word "Mindcrime" Nikki immediately becomes his "doll" and carries out his every command.
In “Speake”, we see how Nikki's ego and adherence to Dr. X's goals increase, as he occupies a more significant place in his organization.
In "Spreading the Disease", one of Dr. X's associates, a corrupt priest named "Father William", offers Nikki the services of a prostitute girl who has become a nun, named "Sister Mary".
In the track "The Mission" Nikki begins to wonder what Dr. X's real agenda is.
The other side of the vinyl opens up with "Suite Sister Mary" in which Dr. X notices a potential threat that Mary may pose and he orders Nikki to kill her and the corrupted priest. Nikki goes to Mary's church and kills the priest, but after a confrontation with Mary, he disobeys the order to kill her.
In "The Needle Lies" Nikki's love for Mary makes him decide to leave the organization with her. Nikki goes to Dr. X to tell him that he wants to leave the organization, but Dr. X reminds him that he is addicted to heroin and that he is dependent on his daily dose supply.
From there we move on to the "Electric Requiem" a track where Nikki leaves Dr. X confused and unsure of his way, he returns to Mary and finds her dead.
In the song "Breaking the Silence" Nikki can no longer deal with the loss and the possibility that he killed Mary without knowing, until he begins to lose his sanity and runs through the streets calling her name.
In "I Don't Believe in Love" the police arrive and arrest Nikki. During a search, a gun was found on him, he was taken into custody on suspicion of murdering Mary and the murders he committed for Dr. X.
"Waiting for 22" is an instrumental piece serving as an introduction to "My Empty Room", which tells how Nikki suffers from almost complete memory loss and is hospitalized in a mental hospital, where he recalls his last moments with Mary.
In the final track of this masterpiece "Eyes of a Stranger", the "flashback" in which the plot began, ends. We return to the present, to the hospital, to the beginning of the story. Nikki managed to regain his memory, but now he is staring at his image in the mirror and unable to identify who he is and what he has become.
In 2006 the band released the sequel to the album called "Operation: Mindcrime II", in which Ronnie James Dio played the role of Dr. X.
For years fans have been preoccupied with the mystery of who killed Mary. Many theories were considered, including the one that Mary received a gun from the doctor who demanded that she shoot herself.
In 2007 the double performance album "Mindcrime at the Moore" was released and combines the two albums and this is where the mystery is finally solved. Nikki did not kill Mary as he thought he did. Mary committed suicide after Dr. X threatened to kill Nikki.
Musically the album maintains a very high level and does not lose height throughout. The exceptional song structures, musical complexity, breaks, and rhythm changes leave no room for doubt. The band that started as a "heavy metal" band was reborn as a "prog-metal" band and its new status is very flattering to them.
The processing and production are no less perfect. The super-producer Michael Kamen and the well-known Peter Collins did an amazing job that even went ahead of its time, relative to when the album was released.
However, the great importance of the album is not in the production, music, or plot story, but rather in the timing when the band chose to release such an album (the 80s) and the fact that it managed to revive a genre that faded until it almost disappeared from the world.