Known Johnson

April 11, 2006

You’re a one-man death machine. Make this city bleed.

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 8:29 am

A week on, I have digested Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime 2 about a half-dozen times. The first time was a turn off – I found little to enjoy about it and couldn’t see much of a reason to return to it. I forced myself to check it out a couple days later and a few good songs stood out, mostly in the first half. A few more listens and I find that the entire first half of the album is pretty solid, if nothing particularly spectacular.

That all comes to a crashing halt with “The Chase,” however, which is the track that Ronnie James Dio makes his appearance as Dr. X. It’s utterly ridiculous. Silly. Embarassing. Unlistenable, at least without giggling. Seriously, the moment I hear Dio uttering his lines, I chuckle. He sounds terrible, singing in a lower range than normal to accomodate Geoff Tate’s more limited range (time has indeed taken its toll on his once amazing voice.) But in general the track is just dumb – it sounds forced, as if Tate was trying to make a reason for someone else to guest on the album.

And speaking of guests, Pamela Moore is back as the spirit/memory of the long-dead sister Mary. I had no problem with her appearance on the original album, but, again, paired with Tate here the result is nails-on-chalkboards grating, with her voice warbling all around Tate in an irritating caterwaul, as if they were competing to see who could sound the most anguished. It’s a toss-up.

The album’s biggest problem is that I just don’t care all that much. Is Dr. X killed by Nikki? Don’t know, can’t tell, don’t care all that much to dig through the story to find out. How did Mary die? Don’t know, either, and the promised resolution to that semi-vexing question isn’t very obvious (I still haven’t found anything that suggests an answer.)

The most daunting question posed by the album is simply “why does this exist?” And I have no answer for that, either. Nikki is released from prison and we get to hear his views on American society 18 years after he left it. He’s haunted by memories of Mary and wants revenge for her death and the sins he was coerced to commit, so he seeks out Dr. X. In the meantime, Mary appears to Nikki in dreams, I guess, and eventually drives him back to the very drugs that bound him to Dr. X in the first place. At the end of the album it seems as if everything is wiped away, all the trauma and violence of Nikki’s past was simply delivering him to the realization that he and Mary could have had it all, because love is all around and it’s wonderful and beautiful. Nevermind all the people he killed, those are just some minor details. It’s about love. So romantic.

Honestly, I’m not really sure if that’s what it boils down to, but that’s sure what it seems like upon the conclusion of the album’s final song, the overwrought ballad, “All the Promises.” It’s an unsatisfying end, but then the album and story, in general, are unnecessary. As a piece of music, it’s not bad – as previously mentioned, the first half is the most inspired the band has sounded in a decade. So while it’s not bad, it is inconsequential, and it doesn’t beg me back for more.

1 Comment »

  1. Well, I only have one thing to say about this CD. I listened to it twice….I have no desire to listen to it again. How disappointing,,,,,

    Comment by Tom Conley — April 11, 2006 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

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