67. Queensrÿche, 'Operation: Mindcrime' (1988)
Although Bellevue, Washington's Queensrÿche wouldn't hit mainstream pay dirt until the power ballad "Silent Lucidity" pushed their fourth album, Empire, into the Top 10, it's the band's third release, the ambitious concept album Operation: Mindcrime, that stands as their magnum opus. And nearly 30 years after its initial release, Mindcrime feels eerily relevant. The interstitial dialogue sections have all the grit of modern video-game cut scenes and the story line, which follows an assassin who tries to save the life of the nun he has been instructed to kill, addresses themes like opiate addiction, religious corruption and the "one percent's" ability to misbehave with impunity. The production of Peter Collins (Rush, Alice Cooper) is tight and timeless, while the precision of the musical performances – drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson seem to have been telepathically linked when they recorded the album's raging title track and the string-embellished "The Mission" – is astounding. But it's singer Geoff Tate who really steals this show, by summoning the the best of Queen's Freddy Mercury, Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and even Bauhaus' Peter Murphy. From guttural growls and baritone incantations to glass-shattering high notes, the singer tirelessly plays the vast field of his vocal range, imbuing the album's characters and storyline with an exhilarating life and engrossing depth. T.B.