Great Metal Albums of 1988: Queensryche- Operation Mindcrime

This was an actual Facebook conversation I had when I posted about King Diamond’s “Abigail” album.

Me: Read why King Diamond’s “Abigail” album is my joint favourite heavy metal concept album of all time.

Responder: I bet the other one’s “Operation Mindcrime.”

Me: It is, am I that predictable?

Responder: No, because “Operation Mindcrime” is such a good album.

Actually, the background as to how the concept album “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche came to be is quite an iteresting read. Singer Geoff Tate was living in Quebec at the time and he picked up on loose talk from friends there who were Quebec separatists who talked about terrorism and bombing. He also lamented over friends who became derelicts due to drink and drugs. Putting the two together, he came up with the concept for the album. His biggest challenge was selling the idea to the rest of the band, which he did one at a time, although guitarist Chris DeGarmo was on board almost from the beginning. Eventually, the rest of the band agreed and a great concept album was born.

Track Listing:

  1. I Remember Now- The short track takes place inside a hospital with the nurse asking a patient, “It’s fifteen minutes past curfew, why are you still up? Perhaps you need another shot.” After she gives the shot, she says, “Sweet dreams, you bastard.” The story’s protagonist, Nikki, suddenly realizes, “I remember now, I remember everything.”
  2. Anarchy X- It’s a cool sounding instrumental which paves the way for the next track.
  3. Revolution Calling- Heroin addict Nikki is frustrated by the hypocrisy and political corruption going on around him and is manipulated into joining a revolutionary group. The rhythm guitar on this track is phenomenal. I love the lyrics, “Who do you trust when the media’s the crook?”
  4. Operation Mindcrime- A great intro here and the is the first of several songs on the track where the bass talents of Eddie Jackson reveals itself. Dr X is the leader of the revolutionary group and he uses mind control techniques to get Nikki become his puppet and carry out assassinations.
  5. Speak- Nikki relishes his role as an assassin and it inflates his ego. He enjoys exterminating the Fascists as the rich control the media and law on this faster tempo track. The backing vocals on the chorus make the point.
  6. Spreading the Disease- My vote for hidden gem on the album. The story sidetracks to a girl named Mary who has run away from home and working as a prostitute. She is rescued from her life by a Father William but the priest isn’t as holy as you might think through the lyrics: “He takes her once a week on the altar like a sacrifice.” Father William is an associate of Dr X and through both of them, Mary’s services are offered to Nikki. This track just purely rocks, both lyrically and musically.
  7. The Mission- Through his relationship with Mary, “She washes my sins sway,” Nikki begins to question what he’s doing and Dr X’s nefarious agenda. The track opens with a cool acoustic intro and then builds up into a rocker. The drumming of Scott Rockenfield is noteworthy on this tune. Saying that, Chris DeGarmo hammers out a cool guitar solo.
  8. Suite Sister Mary- A ten minute plus long progressive metal extravaganza, with Scott adding keyboards and complete with choir, augments Dr X’s instruction to Nikki to kill Mary and Father Williamsas he senses the effect the nun is having on his assassin. He kills the priest but can’t bring himself to kill Mary. His agonizing over it is clearly reflecting in the song and is backed up by some great guitar work. I’m adding this track to my list of great songs over ten minutes long.
  9. The Needle Lies- Nikki goes to Dr. X and tells him he’s out but Dr X reminds him of his drug filled past and how he would still be in that life if it hadn’t been for the Doctor. Nikki leaves feeling conflicted. All of this is told in a very fast paced track.
  10. Electric Requiem- Nikki returns to find Mary dead and Geoff Tate speaks his lamentations very well backed up by some eerie sounding guitars.
  11. Breaking the Silence- Nikki can’t cope with Mary’s death and wonders if he killed her. His grief causes him to lose his sanity, running through the streets calling her name. The police arrive and attempt to subdue him. The rocking melody fits the lyrics extremely well and there is a great guitar solo tradeoff between Chris and Michael.
  12. I Don’t Believe in Love- My favourite Queensryche song of all time! As part of a story or not, this song is just simply fantastic. A gun is found on Nikki and he is arrested, suspected for Mary’s murder and those he committed on the orders of Dr X. He is put into a mental hospital as he in full mental breakdown. Eddie’s bass line is brilliant and the guitars are superb.
  13. Waiting for 22- A cool instrumental which sets the stage for the next track.
  14. My Empty Room- In the mental hospital, Nikki tries to retrace his final moments with Mary as he’s suffering from a complete memory loss. Tate’s vocals bring home Nikki’s mental torture.
  15. Eyes of Stranger- Back in the room in the first track, Nikki has regained his memory but he doesn’t recognize the image he sees in the mirror. He doesn’t know who he is or what he’s become. The music behind the lyrics make it and ideal closer for the album which ends with Nikki saying, “I remember now.”

Geoff Tate- lead vocals, keyboards, whistles and blurbs

Michael Wilton- guitars

Chris DeGarmo- guitars, steel guitar, guitar synthesizer

Eddie Jackson- bass

Scott Rockenfield- drums, percussion, keyboards Track 10

The Cast:

Pamela Moore- Sister Mary

Anthony Valentine- Dr X

Debbie Wheeler- The Nurse

Mike Snyder- The Anchorman

Scott Malteer- Father William

The Moronic Monks of Morin Heights- choir

What more can I say? “Operation Mindcrime” is considered Queensryche’s best album by critics and many fans alike. The only criticism I know of was one who said they were too intellectual for their own good. That should be a compliment because back in the 80s, it was metalheads and the bands they followed who were considered to be stupid. We know this was never the case, another rebuttal comes with this album.

Next post: Cinderella- Long Cold Winter

To Buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at:

Technically, with this post, I shouldn’t include the link to sign the petition to give Bruce Dickinson a knighthood because according to Bruce’s autobiography, he and Geoff Tate didn’t like each other. Anyway, if you want to rise about their squabble, click the link:


12 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1988: Queensryche- Operation Mindcrime”

  1. That is the best explanation of the story song by song I’ve ever read on the album. It nails it perfectly. One of my Top 10 albums of all time. An absolute beast of an album. For me, this was their peak. Empire was close, but I still prefer this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Who do you trust when the media’s the crook?” WOW! Yes, ahead of their time! I have always loved Queensryche and now I know why! I am drawn to their intellect as well as their sound. Always impressed by Geoff too!
    This was the first band my husband and I went to see when we were dating twenty years ago. I loved Empire, but agree this is great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write up. My entry point into Queensryche and I definitely agree it’s their best album from start to finish.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My favorite album of all-time. I love the story and how all of the interludes help to tell it, and also the songs each work magnificently on their own. They completely nailed their sound here too. All these years later and I still can’t get over how amazing it is.

    Liked by 1 person

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