| Frontiers Records | Release Date: 18th Sep 2015
Critic score distribution:
It is an album that breathes, especially as it progresses. It has an almost organic feel. And a feeling that Tate is not always in complete control; that he has let his assembled group of like-minded musicians go with the flow and he has been happy to join them in swimming both with and against its tide.
Leaving soap opera dramas and court room sagas behind to focus on the music, Tate has clearly been reenergised, making an album to silence the detractors. Operation: successful.
A very good album, indeed, but when we see the band's line up... I really must say that I expected a bit more.
The only unknown parameter in enjoying this album is if one can keep himself at a safe distant from the litigations which involve only the money-making part of being in a band, and have nothing to do with being Metal or keeping the legacy of whatever alive. And if you ask me, all this shouldn’t mess with our listening pleasure.
While it may lack the promised story, The Key is still a strong album musically, and that’s really all that matters.
When Geoff Tate took on the name Operation: Mindcrime and started spouting off about a prog rock trilogy that would allow him to break new musical ground, I just rolled my eyes. It turns out, though, that he was pretty much able to pull it off.
In all honesty, if you are expecting something earth-shattering to announce that Geoff Tate is ‘back,’ then you are going to be disappointed, because although there some strong moments on The Key, the album as a whole is rather underwhelming.
This isn't an album that the casual Queensrÿche fan might be able to enjoy or might be anticipating, but this also is not an album anyone could have expected to hear from Tate at this point in his career. It's actually a rewarding listen for open ears and cautious minds.
If you enjoy white noise, or wish to have nonsensical directionless background music to clear your mind for deep thought, Operation: Mindcrime might just be the “The Key” to your serenity.
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.
The Key fails on many levels, because it has it all: Lacklustre vocals (Tate’s performance here is a far cry from what fans know he is capable of, or maybe rather what he used to be capable of), lifeless choruses, uninspired solos, haphazard vocal samples trying to introduce the conceptual piece, a hodgepodge of different styles slapped together, resulting in one heck of a mess of an album that makes the outlook of two more parts more of a threat than a promise.