Operation: Mindcrime – The Key (Frontiers)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Now that the bitter recriminations are over, the battle for the band name has been won and lost and personality clashes are a thing of the past, it’s time for former Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate to enjoy a new era of creative freedom.

And one of progressive rock’s most compelling performers doesn’t hold back on the first of three linked concept pieces: a record steeped in the tradition of the iconic album that spawned this new project’s famous name.

Operation: Mindcrime is more a brand and less of a band. Tate has surrounded himself with the crème de la crème of heavy rock and metal and if there’s little expectation this über-talented collective will tour as one then the quality of their studio work is ample compensation. For now.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest The Key is the best thing Tate has been involved with since Operation: Mindcrime the album. It’s incredibly compelling, deeply immersive, boasts a gripping storyline and stretches the boundaries sonically.

There are familiar spoken word segments complementing a combination of progressive rock and straight up metal: Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, Disturbed’s John Moyer and AC/DC’s Simon Wright provide the pounding rhythms while Tate cedes vocal duties to Mark Daly (The Voodoos) on Life Or Death.

More than that there are songs of superior quality. Songs Tate is quite capable of anchoring and songs that are worthy of his impressive canon with Queensryche. Ready To Fly, jazzy standout On Queue and set closer The Fall prove one of rock’s finest frontmen is back with an almighty bang. Brilliant stuff.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Key Release