building empires, then watching them fall

2013 (May 3, to be exact) marks the 25th anniversary of what is considered one of the most important concept albums in rock history- Operation: Mindcrime. it is the album that not only brought Queensryche to the forefront of the Progressive Metal movement, but also transformed storytelling as we know it. analyzing the album’s content is either a dream come true or a nightmare for musicologists and rock journalists alike; it’s essentially a grand Wagnerian piece coupled with Pink Floyd‘s 1979 opus The Wall (the opening notes to the closing track Eyes Of A Stranger are an overt homage to the rising chords of Empty Spaces). it is also an extremely complex and controversial saga of addiction, politics, sex, murder, and faith. some critics have even compared it to The Manchurian Candidate due to similarities in premise (the only difference is the latter revolves around the son of a prominent political family, while the former centers around a recovering drug addict). the fact that Queensryche’s operatic opus has yet to be adapted to the stage or screen 25 years later remains one of the great musical mysteries.

given that Operation: Mindcrime has hit such a tremendous milestone, it only seemed fitting for the band to celebrate by going on tour to perform the album in its entirety to fans old and new alike. but there was one slight problem: the king of Queensryche had been ousted from his throne.

(by the way, this image is from my own camera and not to be used without consent. it is from the 2011 30th Anniversary Tour.)

last year, the music world experienced shockwaves when it was announced that singer Geoff Tate had been fired by his bandmates after 30 years together. aside from the standard creative differences, rumors circulated that Tate had a violent streak and secretly cut a deal to push forward with the long-awaited film based on the album. it is common knowledge that very few bands survive the death of a lead singer (some notable exceptions include AC/DC and New Order), but even fewer are able to carry on after sacking their vocalist after such a lengthy career. a move like this could very well bring Queensryche’s reign to an end, not only because Tate was the band’s voice (and what a voice!) but he also wrote a considerable chunk of their catalog. Tate’s abrupt layoff has resulted in a major split…literally: there are now two versions of Queensryche, one fronted by Geoff Tate and the other comprised of his ex-bandmates with a new singer. this is one of the ugliest legal battles in music history since Roger Waters exited Pink Floyd in 1985, but eventually that case was settled (the rights to carry on the Pink Floyd title went to David Gilmour, who led the band to renewed success in the 1980’s until their 1995 breakup). this is not the first instance in which a band has morphed in two…another case involved British Goth band Gene Loves Jezebel‘s puzzling squabble between brothers Jay and Michael Aston. the settlement eventually ruled that the Astons’ were to include their names ahead of their individual incarnations of the band’s name to avoid any confusion while touring. the fact that there are two GLJ’s is confusing enough.

the 25th anniversary of Operation: Mindcrime was supposed to be a cause for celebration. instead, it is the beginning of the end as the world watches this Progressive Metal empire fall. yet despite all the chaos, the album remains a one of a kind masterpiece.

 

(author’s note: the fact that i am a huge Queensryche fan is surprising to many because: a) a majority of my collection is comprised of Post-Punk, Goth Rock, Classic Alternative and other obscure assorted melodies, and b) i’m female. but i have no shame in admitting a love for Progressive Rock. i do a fairly decent voice impersonation of Jon Anderson from Yes, and despite a lack of formal musical training aside from a few years of piano and guitar during high school, i am teaching myself to mimic Tate’s vocal patterns while listening to his work. regardless, i will stick to my stable librarian career)

(second note: for optimal satisfaction, this album is to be played loud)

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