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Operation: Mindcrime - 'The Key' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 17, 2015    
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As a new band it's certainly interesting enough to make me more than curious about what else is to come.

Putting aside the furore and court case surrounding singer Geoff Tate's departure from Queensryche and the respective releases from both versions of the band, the best way to approach this album is as a completely new and separate group, which of course it is. The addition of Disturbed/Adrenaline Mob bassist John Moyer and guitarist Scott Moughton (replacing the Sarzo brothers) alongside drummer Brian Tichy, keyboardist Randy Gane and guitarist Kelly Gray, has given them a much heavier sound, particularly Moyer whose contribution is huge throughout. It'll no doubt turn off a lot of the Queensryche faithful that Tate is further exploring the darker side of his writing, but some of his melodies can't really be disguised, no matter how you dress them up.

The first album in a trio of concept releases, 'The Key' is rife with 'Operation Mindcrime' style bits of dialogue and sound effects. The rhythm section – sometimes also including former AC/DC and Dio drummer Simon Wright alongside the omnipresent Moyer – is the focal point for a heavy and complex series of tunes with the occasional instrumental segue. The down-tuned guitars really suit the low-end thunder of tracks like 'Choices', 'Burn' and 'The Stranger', although they may be some of the less immediate songs to existing Tate fans despite the naggingly familiar vocal melodies, which unfortunately are largely without the man's upper register. The unusually raspy vocals of 'Life Or Death?' are a curve ball that passes me by and Tate almost talks his way through the dense instrumentation of 'Hearing Voices', but elsewhere things get a bit brighter and more melodic.

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'Re-inventing The Future' is the closest thing to classic Queensryche that Tate's done in decades, whilst the ensuing 'Ready To Fly' is an inventive track, and one of several that has a tasteful synth solo. Similarly, 'On Queue' is lighter Prog with good melodies, a cool arrangement and a synth/sax trade-off, whilst the strident 'Kicking In The Door' is a good build-up to the epic closer 'The Fall'; all staccato riffs and overblown melodrama.

In context of Tate's past career, 'The Key' may seem like merely a step in the right direction, but as a new band it's certainly interesting enough to make me more than curious about what else is to come.

Phil Ashcroft

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