Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime – 25 years on
“Like the rest of us, he was so excited when he heard how it was going to sound on the record,” Rockenfield adds. “But he still made us credit him as the Archduke Of Darkness – which was a very fitting name.”
According to Tate, neither the band nor the production team had any idea of the magnitude of what they had created until the final touches had been added.
“By then I was physically and mentally drained,” Tate recalls with a wince. “There’d been a lot of late nights and brainstorming sessions along the way. But once the record was done we could sit back and listen without any of the pressure. When you’re a young man like that it’s a pretty exhilarating thing to be able to do.”
Possibly the record’s only significant flaw was the story’s lack of a conclusion. It has been speculated that Queensrÿche had cannily left things open for a sequel – which, after much speculation, finally arrived in 2006 in the form of Operation: Mindcrime II.
However, Tate insisted at the time: “It’s great that the fans still feel so passionate about Operation: Mindcrime, but we refuse to go back to it. To me it doesn’t need improving. We felt that its story just mirrored life. Lots of tales don’t have endings, sometimes they just dissolve and evaporate into thin air.”
“I’m not even sure the story could have had an ending,” Rockenfield said thoughtfully. “It was just a period of time for the characters. Nikki could’ve died, I suppose, and that would’ve been an ending, but I’m not sure that would’ve had the same impact.”
When one UK publication quickly acclaimed Queensrÿche as “the thinking man’s heavy metal band” after …Mindcrime, that tag stuck. It’s an epithet that still makes them smile. However, there were certainly those who failed to comprehend the complexities of the record. According to an apocryphal journalistic story, a certain British writer who should have known better had spent an hour grilling Queensrÿche enthusiastically about the significance of the album’s concept. Then as he was leaving he delivered the killer parting shot: “By the way, what was the name of your band again?”
“Ha-ha. That’s a great story!” Tate laughs. “I’d like to think it was true, but I really can’t remember. I wish I could.”
While the UK had been quick to embrace Operation: Mindcrime, Queensrÿche’s US fans were less appreciative. Although the record had received some glowing US reviews – one paper gushed: ‘A brilliant album by a band whose potential has turned into pure greatness’ – it was too complicated for some.
“America definitely didn’t get …Mindcrime at the start,” Tate affirms. “They seemed to think that we should be making music that sounded like Mötley Crüe or whatever was selling at the time. But our records always take time to listen to.”