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Operation: Mindcrime: The Key

There's no doubt of the legendary status of former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate, but let's be honest, the singer has been struggling to find his way back to past glories for some time now. I won't get into who was responsible for his former band's slide into mediocrity starting in the mid '90s, but since their split a few years back it's more than obvious that his former mates have found their old fire, and Tate, well, he's still trying to figure things out. There's a reason for the lack of buzz surrounding his new band and album, Operation: Mindcrime's The Key (he couldn't have picked a more comfortable band name, right?) on Frontiers Records; there's just not a lot here to get excited about. A proposed first installment in a trilogy, The Key is a sci-fi concept album that's fairly convoluted, but perhaps future installments will better reveal the storyline. Tate is joined by a revolving door of musicians that include guitarists Kelly Gray, Scott Moughton, drummers Simon Wright, Scott Mercado, and Brian Tichy, bassists Dave Ellefson and John Moyer, and keyboard player Randy Gane.

Much of The Key is fairly bland hard rock with some slight touches of prog, not terrible, but not overly memorable or compelling either. "Re-Inventing the Future" is fairly upbeat with a solid hook, and "Ready to Fly" contains a nifty '70s styled keyboard solo from Gane to wake things up a bit. Tate gets some help on vocals from Mark Daily on the familiar sounding "Life of Death?", and both rap & dub step elements pop up on the awful "The Stranger", another example of Tate yet again trying too hard to appeal to young listeners who probably will never be exposed to this album anyway. One of the album's heavier cuts is the nu-metal inspired "Hearing Voices", complete with downtuned guitar riffs and some flashy Hammond organ, but even that can't save the drippy mush that is both "On Queue" and "Kicking in the Door". Thankfully, Tate saves the best for last in "The Fall", a dramatic prog-metal track with some cool riffs and symphonic keyboards that hopefully signals better stuff to come as he unfolds the next part of this trilogy. Not sure why the singer decided to throw in a saxophone solo however, as it totally sounds out of place, but hey, I'm all for trying something different.

Pretty much a forgettable mess of an album, The Key doesn't even sport any spine tingling vocals from Tate, save for the last song, which is perhaps the most disappointing thing here. Nothing really stands out, the songs, the musicians, and the vocals, are all just kind of 'there', and you are left with virtually no impact at all. Let's hope things improve next time around, as I'm not about to totally write Geoff Tate off just yet, but his recent track record is looking pretty bleak.

Track Listing

  1. Choices
  2. Burn
  3. Re-Inventing The Future
  4. Ready To Fly
  5. Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room
  6. Life Or Death?
  7. The Stranger
  8. Hearing Voices
  9. On Queue
  10. An Ambush Of Sadness
  11. Kicking In The Door
  12. The Fall

Added: September 27th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1713
Language: english

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