Operation: Mindcrime – The New Reality (Frontiers)Friday, 1st December 2017
Most DR readers are well-aware of the Geoff Tate vs Queensrÿche legal showdown which resulted in the latter keeping their name – and the former taking on the Operation: Mindcrime namesake. The New Reality is the ending of a trilogy of records for Geoff, another hour-long journey with a revolving set of musicians to flesh out these ideas. The supporting cast includes guitarist Kelly Gray, drummer Simon Wright and drummer Brian Tichy – along with four others – but those expecting something more in the older vein a la Rage for Order or the concept album that is Operation: Mindcrime will probably be disappointed in the progressive/alternative rock angle these twelve tracks encompass.
Ever since the mid-1990’s, Geoff has had a fascination to lower his register and expand his sonic horizons into the alternative/grunge rock landscape – while occasionally dipping his aural toes into the progressive past. These straightforward aspects create walls of sound that come off more modern, more spacious, and slightly disjointed in terms of proper hooks/feel – as “It Was Always You” three songs in illustrates (even with the alluring saxophone accents). Drowning in cyber-oriented rhythms, keyboard layers, and lower register melodies, a song like “The Fear” at 7:08 drags on forever, the refrain ‘you don’t know what it’s like’ taking over the final minute plus in echoing monotony. Lead breaks offer a shimmer of hope, and there are numerous reminders that Geoff can excel in singing abilities (the ballad “All for What” sending shivers in spots a la “Suite Sister Mary”) – but the excessive nature to many of these arrangements makes it tough sailing to get through. The muddy mix and production can also make this rough, especially for those who have the patience and strength to sit through this hour-long record in a single front to back pass.
Geoff has the right to go where his creative intuition and visions lie – just don’t tarnish the reputation and legacy of early Queensrÿche as a result. The New Reality won’t change many minds into which is the better band for metal fans these days – and who is happier exploring alternative measures beyond metal.