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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Operation-Mindcrime-The-Key-2015

OPERATION MINDCRIME - THE KEY - ALBUM REVIEW

FRONTIERS RECORDS | Release Date: September 18 2015




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After hearing the single ‘Re-inventing the Future’ I was suddenly excited again by the Tate/Queensryche saga. Whilst as far as recordings had gone to date the Geoff Tate vs Queensryche split had been somewhat underwhelming with the lawsuit over the name almost as interesting as both parties’ rushed efforts to out-release each other last year leading to two underwhelming albums that Queensryche just edged.


Here it’s a very different story as Tate might just have played his aces on ‘The Key’. Opening track ‘Choices’ has a hypnotic quality and a nice build that has Tate intoning us in his best Bowie vocal leading into the slightly psychedelic Dokken-like take on The Beatles which is ‘Burn’.  


Then it comes: ‘Re-inventing the Future’ is that track that does most to capture the spirit and grandiose power of Operation Mindcrime the album, as you’ll hear. The immediate question of course is after such a promising initial foray does the rest of the album not only keep that momentum but build on it and (Dare we hope? Dare we dream?) even capture the essence of that original album that catapulted Queensryche into the big leagues. The band after all tried it before Tate’s departure with the palatable but underwhelming ‘Mindcrime II’ set which fell way short of expectations.


Here tracks like ‘Ready to Fly’ seem to fall into that category. They have the ‘sounds’ and hallmarks of ‘Mindcrime’ but lack the immediacy and the power. Indeed there’s almost a feel that there’s as much Pete Murphy or David Bowie in the mix as there is Metal. Tracks like ‘Life or Death’ are the opposite – great Rock tracks that stand alone but seem to lack a little of the ‘Mindcrime’ feel and strangely that largely comes vocally with Tate sounding distinctly un-Tate-like and more like Jeff Keith from Tesla . In isolation I like the track but at this point in the initial listen I still had to be convinced.


‘The Stranger’ is the track that tips the balance one way first, with its cod-rap it seems to have lost all direction and comes across more self-indulgent than contemplative. As a huge contrast the very next track ‘Hearing Voices’ rolls in beautifully heavy and delivers the goods with encroaching suspense and a beautiful build – it’s all that you could hope for. That dual nature of the album is both the biggest disappointment and also the greatest reason to believe.


‘Hearing Voices’ that follows also gets it right – with Tate intoning the lyrics beautifully as the music stutters along and the background vocals sooth and invoke menace equally.


‘The Key’ draws to a close in a similarly understated manner, more mood-driven than Metal. That’s not to say the final few songs aren’t compelling enough, they just lack blunt force and bite. Again you can’t help draw comparisons with the album that gives the band its name. ‘On Queue’ drifts in and out like a dream; ‘An Ambush of Sadness’, a brief interlude, is accomplished yet is similarly mellow and ‘Kicking the Door’s title may sound promising for those relishing that onslaught, but the onslaught never comes: instead we get another mid-tempo progression of the story. That leaves us with the closing track ‘The Fall’ which pushes organically and builds and bursts with life and drifting sax but never quite reaches a crescendo.    


What this album lacks, aside from ‘Re-Inventing the Future’, is that huge sweeping single, and that thrusting Metal of original Operation Mindcrime tracks like ‘Spreading the Disease’; where it delivers is in creating a compelling narrative and making you want more even though largely you’ve been left hungry still.  I can’t say I disliked this album and it does grow on the listener, I guess I just expected something different that would lay the race wide open…

 

 

by Mark Rockpit

 

 


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