Label: Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Reviewed by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur
You never know what to expect when a band splits up or members move on to other pastures. In the case of Geoff Tate’s split from his previous band, we are given the new project Operation: Mindcrime, named after arguably the biggest project of his (or their) career. The latest offering from Tate and crew is the twelve-track opus The Key. The disc opens with a hypnotic track, “Choices” that sets the pace for this project and primes you for the rest of the songs with cool sound effects and dialogue, instrumentation, and a killer chorus that draws you in. “Burn” brings aspects of the Mindcrime project while ushering a deeper sound for Tate and his band. The heavy handed bass and rhythm section adds depth and punch to the track and disc. “Ready To Fly” features thumping bass lines and guitar work that ties the songwriters past to the present. Tate’s vocals are impactful and keep the track moving, despite the different vibes offered by the instrumentation behind him. “Life Or Death” features different vocals, both from Tate and from another singer. The feel of this track is powerful and gets the foot tapping. The rhythm is perfect, the vocals are diverse and contrasting, and the guitars soaring. This is one of the better tracks on the collection. “Hearing Voices” is a killer rocker that leans on the rhythm section, but not without allowing the guitars and keyboards to fill the void and bridges with sound. The songs real magic lay in the vocals that add punch to the songs groove. “An Ambush Of Sadness” is a keyboard driven interlude that helps the disc draw near its close.
“Re-inventing The Future” brings a fun sound full of pounding drums and soaring guitars, all accompanying the familiar vocals Tate’s fans and followers have come to expect through the years and across his catalog. “Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room” is an interesting interlude that ties different tracks that may not flow otherwise with cool guitars and effects. “The Stranger” is a moody rocker that gives Geoff room to run vocally, while keeping true to the feel of the disc and the story line. The guitars swirl and sway in the mix, lending a heavier – almost industrial – sound to the track, giving the disc a different feel. “On Queue” is a mellow track that ties together different sounds and textures from the disc, while giving Tate a place to showcase his softer side vocally. The songs emotional delivery suits the lyrics. “Kicking In The Door” is another song that drops back and gives itself over to a mellower tempo and approach, but therein is the strength of the track. The vocals and guitars lift the track when it seems to be lulling itself into a safe place, especially at the bridge. Disc closer “The Fall” brings a new tempo and groove to the disc, but it fits within the framework of the disc. The song nicely wraps up the project lyrically and gives us hope regarding the world. This disc takes me back to 1988 – in a great way and I cannot wait to see what else Tate and company develop and throw at us in the future.
The players: GEOFF TATE (Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophone) – KELLY GRAY (Guitars, Vocals) – SCOTT MOUGHTON (Guitars, Vocals) – DAVE ELLEFSON (Bass) – JOHN MOYER (Bass) – MARK DAILY (Vocals) – RANDY GANE (Keyboards) – SIMON WRIGHT (Drums) – SCOTT MERCADO (Drums, Dulcimer) – BRIAN TICHY (Drums)
Tracklisting: Choices – Burn – Re-inventing The Future – Ready To Fly – Discussions In A Smoke Filled Room – Life Or Death – The Stranger – Hearing Voices – On Queue – An Ambush Of Sadness – Kicking In The Door – The Fall
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