You never forget your first love. In the spring of 1988 I got my first Saturday job and suddenly I had something new and exciting in my life. Disposable income. Each Wednesday, I could carefully scan the review pages of Kerrang! and decide what piece of vinyl I would spend my £5.99. If it got 5K’s I would go and buy it after school the following Monday (the day albums should come out, none of this Friday bollocks). I bought some good (Voivoid, Faith No More and King's X all spring to mind) and I bought some utter drivel (Judas Priest’s “Ram it Down” (which is singularly the worst album they have made) and Frehley’s Comet’s Second Coming both get the award for being utter pieces of drivel). What I did learn a lot about was Metal and what I liked and I didn’t like. It was here that my love of death started to appear as I experimented with the parent baiting records making their way over from Florida. However the one album that I purchased during that time that had the biggest effect on me and still manages to sit on the perch of greatest Metal album of all time was Queensrÿche’s “Operation : Mindcrime”. It absolutely floored me with its intricate plotting, creativity and intelligence. Up until then I saw Metal as big, dumb and nasty. Suddenly overnight it became political aware and thought provoking.
Thirty one years later “Operation Mindcrime” is still for me the last word in concept albums. It has matured with age and is a piece of certifiable genius. Queensrÿche, however haven’t fared so well, managing to spectacularly fuck it up on a number of occasions. There were god awful attempts at Grunge, inter band bickering and for at least three years two Queensrÿche’s doing the rounds. With lawsuits settled, we now have one Queensrÿche (and a Geoff Tate’s Mindscrime) and they have come out all guns blazing. This year, “The Verdict” is the best thing they have recorded in twenty five years and their appearance at Bloodstock with hopefully show they are still the vital and pulsating power house we all fondly recall. It’s the return of the Queen….
By Stewart Lucas