Review of Operation Mindcrime: The Key

The latest album from Geoff Tate’s ensemble is called The Key which is part 1 of 3. The next two albums are scheduled to be released 6 months apart. Many are interested if this new rendering of Queensryche will still have the same sound or if Operation Mindcrime will take a different route.

“The Key” track listing:

01. Choices
02. Burn
03. Re-Inventing The Future
04. Ready To Fly
05. Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room
06. Life or Death?
07. The Stranger
08. Hearing Voice
09. On Queue
10. An Ambush Of Sadness
11. Kicking In The Door
12. The Fall

According to SonicAbuse, they say

With ‘the key’, Geoff Tate and Operation Mindcrime have crafted a mature, fascinating album that builds an impressively real world around the listener. There is no hint here that Geoff wants to revisit the glories of Queensryche, instead, like the artist that he is, he has moved on, recruiting a band of talented musicians and working with them to create an album that is varied, intelligently arranged and well-recorded. There are, of course, those who will refuse (on whatever spurious grounds) to listen to this album, but that is their loss, for this is a powerful and endlessly re-playable progressive rock album. There’s plenty of tough riffs and soaring solos, but there is also a good deal of experimentation as Geoff and his cohorts utilise a variety of instruments to build a suitable backdrop for Geoff’s epic story. If any mistakes were made, it was naming the band ‘operation mindcrime’ – Geoff needs no such tether to the past, and whilst I have no issue with his right to use the name, perhaps Geoff should have faith in his audience to follow him whateverbanner he might be under. That aside, Geoff has proved once and for all (as if any proof were needed) that he can not only survive without queensryche, but that he has the talent and ability to continue to explore the musical form with which he made his name. ‘The key’ is a hugely impressive opening gambit in an ambitious trilogy and part two (which is already recorded) cannot arrive soon enough.

Adding to that BlabberMouth says:

Tate makes one point exceptionally clear — OPERATION: MINDCRIME isn’t a band, it is a musical project of like-minded people uniting to achieve a common goal. While the songwriting rests predominantly on the shoulders of Tate, Gray and Gane, it’s up to every contributor to add their influence and help color the landscape.

Here is a sampling off of the album:

AngryMetalGuy has some ‘not so nice’ things to say about the album from which I agree:

Even when he’s not hilariously awful, it’s clear that Tate struggles with writing anything resembling a hook. His verses lack melody and flow, and the choruses are either forgettable or non-existent. His monotone vocal range and “dramatic” off-tempo delivery mangles any possibility of this stuff sticking to the brain. One of the strengths of the original Operation: Mindcrime was that the songs functioned independently of the storyline, but the same can’t be said of The Key. Tate forces himself to cram every plot point and “highbrow” concept into his vocal delivery, sounding somewhat like William Shatner in the process. At its best, The Key is more of the same pseudo-intellectual office rock that Tate has been churning out for years now. At worst, it’s pure audio diarrhea, served up piping hot by people who give precisely zero fucks about making good music.

Not all reviews are bad however, according to Spudnik: they would sum up this album as The Key sounds like Geoff Tate finally cares again. It’s no throwback to the glory days, but it’s his best modern output. Personally I had a hard time digesting the full album and not sure if I would again on purpose and that is coming from an old school Queensryche fan that has played Operation Mindcrime at least 543 times from front to back.

I give this a 2 out of 5 because Reinventing The Future is just so damn good.

About the author

Eric Byron

Tech geek, my main hobby is storage tech. Anything from Optical drives, to SSD's, to cloud storage. You can follow me on

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