Operation: Mindcrime isn’t Geoff Tate’s new band, but he sees this as an ongoing project with ambitions to record a trilogy of conceptual albums, and The Key is the first.
The premise is the former Queensrÿche vocalist’s alternative look at the world and it brings to mind the Operation: Mindcrime era of Queensrÿche. The music is inventive and also has lyrical substance, and Geoff’s voice is dominant, revelling in the freedom to explore his own visions.
He probably hasn’t sounded so convincing for about 25 years, but he’s also helped by a phalanx of quality musicians. Crucial contributions come from guitarist Kelly Gray and Randy Gane on keyboards, the trio hinting at the Queensrÿche style of the late 80s, but never trying to recreate it. Other contributors include Megadeth bassist David Ellefson and one-time Dio and AC/DC drummer Simon Wright. The Stranger and An Ambush Of Sadness meander aimlessly, but mostly, this is intelligently entertaining progressive metal.