With the April 4 arrival of "Operation: Mindcrime II" (Rhino Records), thousands of Queensryche fans will finally get to hear the second chapter of a story that began in 1988.

With the April 4 arrival of "Operation: Mindcrime II" (Rhino Records), thousands of Queensryche fans will finally get to hear the second chapter of a story that began in 1988. That was when the Seattle band released "Operation: Mindcrime," a hard-rocking concept album that has been favorably compared to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and the Who's "Tommy."

"It's definitely a record that you can't take in in one pass. It's one of those things were you have to listen to it several times to really understand all the meat of it," the band's co-guitarist, Mike Stone, says of the new album. "So I'm hoping [when] people hear it, they're like, 'Wow, this is something new and different and cool from Queensryche,' and they will give it the time to really sink into it. And I think if they do that they'll really appreciate what it is."

Since the first "Mindcrime" arrived, fans have wanted to know what happened to Nikki, a junkie assassin for an anarchist movement led by the evil Dr. X. Nikki and his lover, a whore-turned-nun named Sister Mary, were both betrayed by their manipulative leader. "Mindcrime II" picks up their story nearly 20 years later, and Stone says that writing the sequel was exciting -- and daunting.

"You gotta step up and deliver the goods," Stone says. "It's a legacy you're continuing here, and there's a lot of pressure. And we really wanted to make it something special." In the sequel, Nikki is out for vengeance, and confronts his old nemesis. Throughout the record, he is haunted by Mary's ghost.

Stone says, "At the end of the day, the moral of the story is practically if he only had love in his life, none of this would have happened. And I think that's a really beautiful message."

Rhino VP of marketing Kenny Nemes calls the album "a big priority" for the label. Indeed, the marketing and promotion surrounding it is the biggest push a Queensryche release has gotten since its last EMI record, 1997's "Hear in the Now Frontier." Also, for the first time in years, the band has shot videos specifically for broadcast. Yahoo premiered the clip for "I'm American" on March 15, and a video for "The Hands," which will be the second single, has already been shot.

In addition, Queensryche will return to the road, touring Europe in the summer and then coming to North America in August. In a daring move, the band will play both "Mindcrime" albums back to back in their entirety, with actors portraying Nikki, Dr. X and Mary onstage.

"There's a point where Nikki says to the audience [when he finally confronts Dr. X], 'What should I do?' He wants more life. And the audience is going to dictate the outcome of what happens next," singer Geoff Tate said in a previous interview about plans for the stage production. "And we're going to be prepared to go either way with it."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print