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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DeGarmo is gone and never coming back - get over it!
For those who worship at the altar of Chris DeGarmo - if he still had the same knack for great songwriting that he showed on OM:I or Empire, then how to explain Hear in the Now Frontier or his efforts on Tribe? HITNF had DeGarmo's fingerprints all over it, and that was their first bad album. Face it, he was GREAT back in the day, but that day is gone. So Queensr?che is...
Published on April 16, 2006 by The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few steps backwards(forwards)
The reviews on here are just as predicted. Some loyal to the old Ryche and some loyal to the entire career of this band (start to ....finish). As one who tries to commit to the latter, yet is truly moved only by material up to - and INCLUDING! - Promised Land, allow me to offer a heart-felt attempt at a reality-based review; one that reports mixed results...
Published on August 29, 2006 by D. Rausch


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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few steps backwards(forwards), August 29, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
The reviews on here are just as predicted. Some loyal to the old Ryche and some loyal to the entire career of this band (start to ....finish). As one who tries to commit to the latter, yet is truly moved only by material up to - and INCLUDING! - Promised Land, allow me to offer a heart-felt attempt at a reality-based review; one that reports mixed results.

No, it's not the same band. There's no Chris. And really, there's no epics. Nothing truly memorable. And the intensity of the legitimacy of the PURPOSE! ...???????
But as some of you have pointed out, it still IS Queensryche, in some form. Which will always be aweseome on some level. There's still an addictive quality to the music.

Without doing another play by play, here's the real scoop on the album. The music is the best since Promised Land, but doesn't match that or any prior effort. Why? Primarily because it is weighed down by the band's terrible identity crisis about what sort of PRODUCTION their music needs. For a band who prides themselves on not following trends, that spirit is starting to get real paper thin. The music is compressed to holy hell, just like everything else out there, which squashes the mix and in turn it's hard to hear a palatable stereo image. It's just unpleasurable grain in the guitar distortion and the usual "2000's" vocal treatment - up-front, without character or dynamic, and such that one can't really hear any subtle nuance in the soundscape. So I blame the production team first. The music is never given a chance to breathe (unlike OMC I , if drowned in reverb ).

The other problem - going back to the music itself - is the songs don't get real good till the end. Too little too late. Where "Suite Sister Mary" was on I, we have Ronnie James Dio on II. Only in one of many go-nowhere 3 minute increments, the album doesn't pace its way to anything. Before you know it, Pamela Moore is beginning a sweet duet with Geoff right as the record ends. No climax and no payoff.

I follow the liner notes but as someone else put it, it takes a lot of effort just to CARE about the fact that there's a literary thematic story going on. Unlike DT's Metropolis 2, if the music isn't highly intriguing, the story loses its credibility.

One of the major saving graces is the song "Fear City Slide" - classic Ryche which erases the blemishes of recent years' releases, and tries so hard to move the band forward, to once again try to evolve...

The heartbreak is, despite all the marks against it, it really had the makings of something with potential. And it falls somewhere in between. I'll probably listen to it over and over, never really forget about it, but I'll probably never really remember it, either. For every admirable harmonized guitar lick on this album, there's the same run on another album with more conviction and direction. I enjoy this album, but I fear for its test-of-time -ness

I hesitated to write this review for fear that it really doesn't go anywhere, but all in all, my infatuation with the mighty Ryche will always call me back...and I think that says a lot.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DeGarmo is gone and never coming back - get over it!, April 16, 2006
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This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
For those who worship at the altar of Chris DeGarmo - if he still had the same knack for great songwriting that he showed on OM:I or Empire, then how to explain Hear in the Now Frontier or his efforts on Tribe? HITNF had DeGarmo's fingerprints all over it, and that was their first bad album. Face it, he was GREAT back in the day, but that day is gone. So Queensr?che is moving on without him (he did leave by the way, it's not like they kicked him out), and I say good for them!

With that out of the way, what about OM:II? Well as others have said, it is not the masterpiece that the first one was. But I can honestly say that this is the best work the band has done since Promised Land, easily. I will admit, however, that it took about 4-5 listens for the album to really start sinking in. But right off the bat, I loved "Re-Arrange You," "The Chase" and "Murderer?" Those three songs are the high point of the album. And I love that they ended the album with a ballad rather than a rocker. "All the Promises" is a beautiful track and could have come right off Promised Land (my favorite QR album).

Geoff Tate may not be able to hit the glass-shattering notes like he could back in 88, but his voice still sounds very strong. And I think Mike Stone, once he starts to get his playing style in the Ryche more well-defined, will prove to be a more than capable 2nd guitarist.

One thing that was a big disappointment for me is the production. I guess Rhino gave QR a low budget to work with, because the sonics of the album are not that great. A little more clarity and "oomph" in the sound would have really given the album more impact. Something tells me that this will sound even better live though.

All in all, this album has me excited about the Ryche in a way I haven't been in a decade. Even without having "Operation: Mindcrime" as part of the title, this is a strong album that shows the band is finally getting back on track after some really disappointing efforts.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strong Album with reflective/introspective tone, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
Overall, this album is one of the strongest since the original Mindcrime. According to interviews with the band, they really focused on relearning/replaying Mindcrime extensively and wrote the sequel in the same key, etc. My initial reaction is that this album is much better than anything they've put out since Empire, however, this album includes musical elements that are remincient of all of their albums except Empire. I've been a fan since Rage for Order and was as shocked as anyone when Queensrcyhe hit the big time with Silent Lucidity of all songs. Not a bad song, but also not one you would expect to grab the public either. Following are reviews of some of the key tracks.

I'm American: This is a pretty cool song. It's got powerful drumming, angry guitars, twin guitar harmonies are back (thank God - what's up with no meaningful lead guitar on Tribe?).

One Foot in Hell: A decent groove, nice bluesy female background vocals.

Hostage: Song sounds great. One of the more commercial-friendly tracks and much better than the live bootlegs on the net.

The Hands: Begins with opening from I Don't believe in Love. Nice touch. Vocals are powerful and melodic. Vocal effects include the "yell through a bullhorn and an echo chamber". Underlying guitar riff is a powerful groove with subtle lead guitar and strings in the background. Bass work is impressive. Drumming is methodical and understated.

Signs of Light: The intro almost sounds like a funky "artist formally known as Prince" meets Led Zeppelin. Special effects sound like automated recordings in a futuristic airport terminal. Chorus is similar to tracks on Hear and the now Frontier. Reminiscent of "Some People fly". Ending includes powerful vocals from female vocalist reminiscent of Suite Sister Mary (same singer).

Signs say go: Guitar work is fairly simple. Drumming is more complex and interesting that in other tracks, however, Vocals are not impressive and this song is the weakest track.

Rearrange You: Opening with orchestral sounding strings. Bass, orchestra, and drums make this song more operatic. Vocals are more like classic Queensryche. When guitars come in, they sound similar to progressive elements of Dream Theater's Scenes from a Memory. Lead guitar also very Petrucci-like, which is a good thing. DT and Queensryche toured together a few years back. Perhaps this some cross-polinization?

The Chase: Ronnie James Dio and Geoff Tate duet. Sounds great in concept but less wonderful in reality. Twin guitars a nice touch again, but the underlying Spanish Polka beat just sounds out of place to me. I would have expected a confrontation between Nikki and Dr. X to be a more powerful and prog-metal sound. Maybe after a few more listens I'll appreciate this one more.

Murderer?: Starts off with soft guitar arpeggio with echo effect. Techno-bass beat lies on top of it - great intro. Lots of vocal effects. Chorus is powerful and classic Queensryche. Female vocals come in again. Lots of interesting vocal accents. Ending is creative, energetic, and powerful. This song has many changes and distinct parts of the arrangement. Strong composition.

Circles: Similar to Electric Requiem, includes vocals with heavy echo effects on top of mysterious guitar, birds, and whispering voices (A la Welcome to the Machine by Pink Floyd). A nice transitional piece between Murder and If I could Change. However, after a hearing this a few times most will problem hit the "skip song" button on their MP3 players.

If I Could Change It All: Geoff Tate puts passion into this song vocally. A slight saxophone piece adds a nice touch in the beginning. Later on it sounds like some guitar work mimics a sax player (synth?) Very soft and melodic song. Soulful female vocals are reminiscent of those on Roger Water's Amused to Death. Roman-catholic vocals (a la Suite Sister Mary) on the end were a little overdone.

An Intentional Confrontation: This song includes powerful guitars and interesting voice interplay between female and male vocals. Migrates over to a grove that sounds suspiciously like Lady Jane from Promised Land.

A Junkie's Blues: Begins sounding reminiscent of Stone Temple Pilots' Vasoline. Builds up to a soft chord progression with Geoff Tate talking through lyrics. The song becomes somewhat toward the end but ends with a few bars of Revolution Calling as a nice touch.

Fear City Slide: Starts with a heartbeat backed with subtle and interesting guitar work. Guitars are nicely balanced and work well together on this track. Nice drums and percussions. Geoff Tate delivers a strong and interesting vocal. The ending includes vintage Queensryche effects with shades of Rage for Order.

All The Promises: This song begins with interesting percussion effects and "music box" sounding guitar effects (a la Steve Vai). This song is more like the songs on Tribe. Like many final tracks on Queensryche albums, this song is the soft, reflective, epic ballad. Nice female/male vocals again. Strong acoustic guitar in a Minor key similar to I will Remember from Rage for Order. Also sounds vaguely like Real World from the Last Action Hero.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queensrych being Queenryche, April 8, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
The only thing to expect from Queensryche is that each album will be different from previous albums and Operation:Mindcrime II is no exception! They bring you to the edge and back while spinning a compelling story that only they can offer. You've wondered; What happened to Nikki?, Who killed Mary?, What about Dr. X? Queensryche has made you wait 18 years for the answers and there is no doubt that in the end the wait was worth it. But it doesn't have the same feel as the first? Of course not. Things have changed, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs. The music has changed with the story and it's characters. They take you on Nikki's emotional rollercoaster of relief, expectations, goals with an underlying tone of sadness and longing. Don't let anyone tell you different, it's a quality album that is worth having and listening to over and over. Queensryche wouldn't be Queensryche if they followed the pattern of other bands and gave you the same thing on every album. If you're dissappointed with this, you don't understand, and should probably be listening to Dave Matthews or some other redundant band.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PEOPLE, C'MON, THIS IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING THEY'VE DONE IN 15 YEARS!!, August 7, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
Quite Simply this is the best Ryche album in a very long time, I would venture a guess as far back as EMPIRE in fact, though in my opinion Empire is better. What I think folks fail to realize before they write a review here is that this is a follow up to a brilliant concept album, and with that there is a complex story line that needs to be concluded...so why would it be simple, or easy to get right away....it's not, first time I heard this album, I was yes...disapointed too, in fact it took about 6-7 spins before it started to grow on me....but, it did grow each and every time.

And by that 8th time there are only a few songs that I'm not really enjoying, however, no big, there is A LOT of songs on this album....17 if I remember correctly so who cares if a few aren't all that...???

There are some amazing tracks on here and it is a great album, it's just that as classic Ryche fans...we put the original so far up on the rychter scale that anything they would release would be hard pressed to compete!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They did it!, April 13, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
Well it seems like most people are divided on what to think about this new piece. It seems like some of the reviews here could have been written a year ago. Nothing will ever change some peoples minds, and when the album was released they had a couple of listens and posted their predetermined response. Let me tell you this. It took me a long time to talk myself into not being like that. It is hard to accept change. Especially when the first CD was so incredible. After many hundreds of listens of the first one I wanted to have another disc of the same sound, same production, same band members. same everything. I finally decided for myself that I was going to move on. It's been almost 20 years now, and things are not going to be the same.

The first disc wasn't immortalized until Empire had been released. Here we are a couple weeks into this and we have a ways to go. I'm just gonna say that the more I listen to OMII, the more I like it. It's that simple. Give it as many listens as it takes. See it live. Learn the story and enjoy it for what it is. Our society is so on-demand that we just expect what we want. Some people get it and some don't. I feel like I own a treasure that hasn't yet uncovered its true value.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new rock genre?, July 5, 2006
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This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
After all these years of growing up with Queensryche and just a few other HIGH QUALITY hard rock bands (and countless copycats for that matter), we get the sequel to the awe-inspiring and in many cases life-influencing Operation: Mindcrime... and yes, it is remarkable! There are plenty of reviews on this site and by professional critics regarding comparisons with the first one and also about the story of Nikki, so the focus of this observation lies more in regards of the sound on the album: it is heavy, though not "heavy metal"; it is symphonic, though not "symphonic metal" either; it's also progressive but not like Dream Theater progressive, and it is even bluesy but far from being blues rock... so what the heck is this? That is the beautiful part, for in this era of so many rock and metal genres and sub-genres, this album does not fully classify in any of them, but lives among the sounds of hard rock, creating its own soul. Exaggeration? Sit down, listen; stand up, listen again; go to sleep, listen once more. Wake up, turn it THE HELL UP and live the beauty and power of Operation: Mindcrime II (the sequel!), the new one-of-a-kind rock creature by Queensryche, rock creators.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Face it, Operation: Mindcrime II is a good album, August 12, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
Ah, Queensryche, the seminal progressive rock band that hails from Seattle. They're easily known best for two things: "Silent Lucidity" and their 1988 opus Operation: Mindcrime, a rock concept-album centered on Nikki, a junkie assassin whose jobs are politically motivated. The band had long maintained that no sequel was in the works, and with the departure of co-founder Chris DeGarmo in the late 90's, a sequel seemed out of the question. But in 2004, Queensryche announced they would be taking a live stage-show of Operation: Mindcrime on the road in anticipation of the release of Operation: Mindcrime II a year and a half later.

In 2006, 18 years after the original Operation: Mindcrime and minus one original member (replaced by Mike Stone) Queensryche released Operation: Mindcrime II, the hard-hitting sequel produced by Queensryche and Jason Slater.

The big question was: would it live up to the original? If you ask me, it does. It doesn't try to copy the original, and this is important: why would you want a copy of something you already have? Instead of lamenting that "There is nothing like X song on Operation: Mindcrime II" - think to yourself, well, Operation: Mindcrime II comes AFTER Operation: Mindcrime, why would we need to have that song again? Most importantly though, the story is continued on Operation: Mindcrime II.

We find Nikki released from prison after 18 years of incarceration. Initially he offers a commentary on America's political landscape with "I'm American", the first single and a song the band debuted live back in the summer of 2005. There is not much political material on Operation: Mindcrime II, especially in light of what was on Operation: Mindcrime. "I'm American" is pretty much the beginning and the end of politics on the album. The album continues forward with the swaggering anthem "One Foot In Hell" where Geoff Tate, as Nikki, venomously spews "I'm back!" One of the true standout tracks from the album is "Hostage", which first debuted as an over-the-PA encore of sorts during the 2004-2005 Operation: Mindcrime tour.

"The Hands" was the second single off the album, and one of my favorites. While the backing vocals detract from the song, it still, overall, is quite good. The dual lead is total Queensryche - even without DeGarmo providing the second half. Mike Stone came in to his own on this album, co-writing a large chunk of it with Geoff Tate and Jason Slater. There are guitar solos aplenty on the album, for those that missed them on 2003's Tribe. There are plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle synths laced through the album - just listen to the intro of "Re-Arrange You" which is just strings. They add a bit more texture to the music and are a welcome addition.

Mid-way through the album Dio jumps in to lend a voice to the villainous Dr. X. Dio is perfect for the role. He has quite a few years on Tate, and he nails a slightly malicious condescending tone that fits the Dr. X persona. While the vocal sparring is short-lived, it's effective, and capped off with a great guitar solo leading into "Murder?", a progressive metal song that takes the best form old-school `Ryche, Iron Maiden, and Dream Theater for an aggressive, yet emotional ("you took away my life") song.

The rest of the album is slightly more drawn-out as Nikki reflects on what's he's done. Pamela Moore steps in as Mary again and acts as Nikki's conscience. They go back and forth on several songs ultimately leading into second-half highlight "Fear City Slide", which would've been a more suitable ending then the slightly tepid "All the Promises."

Ultimately, Operation: Mindcrime II is a success. While no album can ever match the original, the band didn't try. Instead, they tried to extend it - and that they did. While remaining faithful to the music of the original, the band continues to move forward and not ignore the rest of their past body of work. Shades of Promised Land, Hear in the Now Frontier, Q2K, etc. can be heard on Operation: Mindcrime II.

While some fans will not be happy without DeGarmo lending himself on strings, or the fact that Queensryche even attempted a sequel, those that approach this album for what it is: a continuation of the story found on Operation: Mindcrime set to quality music will be more than satisfied at what Queensryche has accomplished.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING! DON'T LET THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS SCARE YOU OR YOU WILL MISS OUT!, April 16, 2006
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This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
As the title suggests, I've read a bunch of reviews on this record and none of them seem to suggest that they actually took the time to listen to the record a couple of times. Instead, it seems they all seem to have listened once, decided it wasn't as good as the first one, then wrote it off as bad. If you do that, YOU WILL MISS OUT! With that in mind, if you expect this CD to match Mindcrime I, one of the greatest hard rock offerings in history, then you're in for a disappointment. That type of thing happens only once in a band's lifetime. Mindcrime II, however, seamlessly furthers the story of it predecessor with dignity and flair, as well as some very catchy tunes... and in many ways, different from anything Queensryche has done to date. For great background vocals, melodies and anger, check out Signs Say Go, Re-Arrange You, The Chase and Fear City Slide. Not to diminish the other songs, but this particular day, those stand out. The Chase, which has Ronnie James Dio singing as Dr. X, is truly amazing. And it's also great to hear Tate singing with such angst too! While Chris DeGarmo is absent, Stone has filled in nicely. It would have been better, I believe, with DeGarmo, but not by a whole lot. My only complaint would be that most of the songs are just a little too short. Absent are the epics like The Mission & Suite Sister Mary. If you are a Queensryche fan, particularly of the early stuff, please take the time to give this CD a chance. You won't be disappointed. It's been giving me chills all week since I bought it. Not since Dream Theater's "Scenes From A Memory" has that happened! Thanks, Queensryche!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy, April 4, 2006
This review is from: Operation: Mindcrime II (Audio CD)
This album does the exact same thing that the original accomplished: captured a feel for a story. The original captured a haunting air of mystery, (at least the last half of the album did) and OM II captures the idea of revenge. It's harder to listen to than the original (not in a bad way), but that's because it's more frantic. I believe it's suppose to be that way since Nikki's doing whatever it takes to track down and get revenge on Dr. X. I think that within a couple of listens, people will undestand it and give it the appreciation it deserves.
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Operation: Mindcrime II
Operation: Mindcrime II by Queensr˙che (Audio CD - 2006)
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