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Operation: Mindcrime: The New Reality

Here we have the third & final chapter in the musical trilogy from ex-Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate and his band Operation: Mindcrime, titled The New Reality, which follows The Key and Resurrection. Now, if you've read my reviews of those first two parts of this trilogy, you'll remember that I haven't found these albums to be too successful, and I don't think I'm alone in that opinion, so will third time finally be the charm here for Operation: Mindcrime?

Well, partly, the answer is yes. Without a doubt, The New Reality is a bit more of an upbeat affair overall, with the musical cast of Kelly Gray, John Moyer, Simon Wright, Scott Mercado, Scott Moughton, Brian Tichy, and Mike Ferguson given a little more to do on songs that rock out much more than anything we heard on the first two installments. Opening tracks "A Head Long Jump" and "Wake Me Up" are vibrant rockers with crunchy riffs and a more forceful Tate vocals. "It Was Always You" has a quirky, proggy edge to it, not unlike what Queensryche cranked out on the underrated Rage for Order album back in 1986, though not nearly as catchy, while the lengthy "The Fear" kind of plods along with extended synth soundscapes and percussion, Tate trying hard to sound charming but it comes across like he's trying too hard. Nice guitar solo on this one however. The doom laden "Under Control" works quite well, the riffs heavy and the drumming potent, with the leader delivering a strong vocal, but it's back to meandering prog on the extended title track, a tune that has its moments but could have been 3-minutes shorter. "My Eyes" has an industrial feel, but overall just isn't very memorable, and "A Guitar in Church" ironically has basically no guitar in it...go figure. More futuristic prog rears its head on "All For What", a song with an exciting middle section but it's bookended by too much pointless synth soundscapes and Tate talking his way through the arrangement. "The Wave" tries to be a groovy rocker, but when you expect some guitar thunder it's once again dominated by way too many synths. The album ends with "The Same Old Story", which, for me, kind of indicates that we've gotten exactly the same old same old here as we got on the first two parts to this trilogy. A few strong cuts woven in between a ton of filler, meandering arrangements, and very little of it engaging or memorable.

Whether Geoff Tate decides to keep this project going remains to be seen. As a concept trilogy, I have to give these three albums a fail overall, though this third part is easily the most successful of the trio, but that's not really saying much. As a longtime fan of the vocalist, it is very hard to see him churn out material this lackluster, as his talent deserves so much better. The painful truth is his former bands material is leaving his in the dust these days. Back to the drawing board perhaps? We shall see.

Track Listing
01 A Head Long Jump 4:52
02 Wake Me Up 4:49
03 It Was Always You 6:31
04 The Fear 6:53
05 Under Control 3:55
06 The New Reality 7:31
07 My Eyes 4:19
08 A Guitar In Church 3:41
09 All For What 6:23
10 The Wave 4:42
11 Tidal Change 1:15
12 The Same Old Story 3:39

Added: December 9th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2446
Language: english

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Operation: Mindcrime: The New Reality
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-12-09 11:25:19
My Score:

Not many musicians can have had their every move scrutinised in the way that Geoff Tate has, the singer often the focus of fan and critic ire as his ex-band's output was ever more derided. Queensryche long seeking to find a way forward after the mega-selling Operation Mindcrime and Empire albums. Sometimes those suspicious eyes did have a lot to look askance at, Dedicated To Chaos and the covers album Take Cover both verging on being a shambles. However, on other occasions the likes of American Soldier was caught up in many peoples' rush to criticise; that it was a brave, bold and hugely rewarding experience (if the listener put the hard yards in) completely overlooked. From there, allegation, counter allegation and subsequent court battles led to the singer attempting to move on alone as Todd La Torre and Tate's ex-band mates reverted to a safer sound and much well deserved acclaim.

A passable, if hardly thrilling solo album arrived from Tate before he utilised the famous Operation Mindcrime name for a three album conceptual trilogy. The New Reality is the final piece in a collection of albums that have, in truth, fallen well below the required standard, an intentional remoteness never becoming the enigmatic shimmer hoped for, instead feeling off-hand and aloof if not downright boring. With a cast list of ex-Queensryche guitarist Kelly Gray, tub-thumpers Simon Wright (AC/DC-Dio) and Brian Tichy (Whitesnake), and bassist John Moyer (Disturbed-Adrenalin Mob) alongside Scott Mercado, Mike Ferguson and Scott Moughton, there's no excuse for the pattern to continue on The New Reality, an album that partially fixes those errors in judgment, but in the end falls back into the same routine.

At least "Wake Me Up" does exactly that, a thick, infectious guitar groove lain down with pulsating power, while "Under Control" attempts to capture the majesty of Dio era Sabbath, while adding Tate's trademark off kilter beats and a fiery six string solo. Too often however the rest of the album sits at mid-pace, Wright and/or Tichy clattering round the kit as loosely invasive guitar lines never quite convince. "My Eyes" is a prime example, a guitar outburst never building into an actual riff or a solo as Tate aimlessly wails away in the background. Although you could pick out everything from "A Head Long Jump" to "It Was Always You" or "Tidal Change" and square the same accusation at them. "A Guitar In Church" does add the more overtly progressive edge you can only presume is being aimed for, but even here the interest quickly wanes as you realise that the intensity levels are set to remain in neutral.

The New Reality, while hardly a rip-roaring success, is an improvement on what's come before and the talk is that Operation Mindrcime, at least in this guise, will be no more after this album. What comes next from Geoff Tate could be crucial, because in truth, it's a long time since he made any truly indispensable music.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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