Geoff Tate cannot be stopped. Getting fired from Queensryche barely slowed him down, and a lengthy court battle over the band name just made him mad. Hell, we even begged him to show us mercy, but he denied us. Instead, Tate has delivered The Key, the debut outing by his creatively-named new project Operation: Mindcrime. O:M‘s lineup includes many of the players that served in Tate’s scab version of Queensryche for the past two years, alongside new faces like bassist John Moyer (Disturbed) and drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake).

Sadly, The Key is not a concept album about traveling back in time to kill the baby Jesus, but rather the first part of a 3-album trilogy about….something. Seriously, I think the plot involves a guy who has invented some piece of technology that has the power to change the world somehow, and hijinks ensue. In the album’s first 10 minutes, Tate sings “the future!” about 700 times, so you know he’s serious. Several of the songs begin with cutaway scenes of Tate talking to a computer, War Games/Knight Rider style, suggesting that his vision of the “future” is set firmly in the past.

Speaking of which, the album’s best track by a goddamn mile is “Reinventing The Future,” mostly due to the fact that it borrows its main riff from Queensryche‘s “The Mission.” Guitarist Kelly Gray delivers a flashy solo on this one, backed by a pumping drum track and a surprisingly decent performance by Tate. I hope Chris DeGarmo is getting royalties for this, wherever he is. Elsewhere, tracks like “Burn” and “Hearing Voices” are inconsequential grunge-lite, not far removed from Tate’s last solo album Kings & Thieves.

“Ready To Fly” is more of the adult-contemporary rock that ruined Queensryche‘s rep, but ups the ante by unleashing the full fury of keyboardist Randy Gane, who delivers a harsh synth solo reminiscent of 1980’s-era Rainbow. This is followed by an instrumental piece by Gane, “Discussions in a Smoke Filled Room,” which sounds like the music that Sega Genesis games played when you lost. Oddly, lead vocals on “Life or Death” are handled by an unnamed 1990s Angsty Grunge Dude®, while Tate merely drops in for some harmonies on the chorus. It takes balls of steel to make what is essentially a solo album and then farm the singing out to someone else, but that’s just how Mr. Tate rolls. Oh, and in case you were wondering: yes, there are saxophone solos. “Solos,” plural, as in “more than one.”

Operation Mindcrime – The Key 02Which brings us to track seven, “The Stranger.” Sweet Jesus. As his band awkwardly attempts to incorporate both dubstep and djent elements, Tate adds pseudo-rap vocals and random moaning to achieve maximum creepiness. It’s a desperate and failed attempt to approximate what “the kids these days” are into, the sonic equivalent of a middle-aged man lurking in an elementary school playground. And don’t even get me started on all the unintentional homoeroticism.

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. His monotone vocal range and “dramatic” off-tempo delivery mangles any possibility of this stuff sticking to the brain. One of the strengths of the original Operation: Mindcrime was that the songs functioned independently of the storyline, but the same can’t be said of The Key. Tate forces himself to cram every plot point and “highbrow” concept into his vocal delivery, sounding somewhat like William Shatner in the process. At its best, The Key is more of the same pseudo-intellectual office rock that Tate has been churning out for years now. At worst, it’s pure audio diarrhea, served up piping hot by people who give precisely zero fucks about making good music. I don’t know who is still buying this stuff, but whoever they are, they should be slapped. I can only imagine what The Key, parts II and III will sound like. To be continued…

Rating: 1.0/5.0
Label: Frontiers Music |
Releases Worldwide: September 18th, 2015

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Nocturnus and Geoff Tate mentioned in the same breath… and here I was thinking that asserting that Killers is worse than X-Factor was as bad as it was going to get this week.

    • I’m glad someone besides me got that reference.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Kudos to you for taking to opportunity to shamelessly plug Nocturnus.

    • Dr_Fisting

      The views expressed in AMG’s Iron Maiden post are his alone, and are not representative of the official position of this website.

      Also, Killers>X-Factor>The music that the ice cream truck plays>Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime.

      • Alexandre Barata

        I don’t know, the music from the ice cream trucks is pretty cool, right upthere with The Number of the Beast.

      • Grymm

        “Yo, I’mma let you finish, but I just wanna say… ICE CREAM TRUCK PLAYS THE BEST ‘GREENSLEEVES’ OF ALL TIME!!!”

        -2020 Presidential candidate Kanye West

      • Hulksteraus

        Operation ice cream truck!

    • It’s amazing to me that you’re so butthurt that you’re letting it flow into other, irrelevant posts.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        A sense of humor and a primer on running jokes to table XI, please!

  • Martin Knap

    For Christs sakes, who had the idea to put a Queensryche USB flash drive/pendant on the cover? not the Maestro himself perhaps?

    • Dr_Fisting

      That’s not the Queensryche logo! It’s….something completely different. Yeah.

      • Martin Knap

        the whole cover is as cool as Tate’s haircut :-)

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I wish I could vote up this more than once!

      • CarvedInStone

        It’s the Fleur De Lis. Timo Tolkki also uses it a lot. It used to be part of the Stratovarius logo they used from Visions up until he left and appears on some of Tolkkis post-Strato projects.

        • I think the French should do something to prevent Mr. Tate to keep using that proud symbol indiscriminately.

      • Rob Volz

        Something completely different? You have to be blind not to see it for what it is!

      • Fermín A. Agudelo Gómez

        You are right and it has something to do with wine, I’ve seen this logo on winee also, correct me if I’m wrong.

    • De2013

      The alternative was a 14k4 modem link.

  • ghost whistler

    How many people does he need in this band?

    Did he have to call it Operation Mindcrime?

    Seriously G?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Usually (not always but usually) when a band goes above five members, it sucks. And the more members, the more the band sucks. So either Tate didn´t know about it or he REALLY wanted his band to suck.
      But judging from his haircut, he doesn´t have a clue of waht sucks and what doesn´t.
      And calling the band Operation Mindcrime? Well, I guess he´s hoping for some people to mistakenly buy his albums without actually knowing what they´re buying.

      • ghost whistler

        His haircut is hilarious.

        I think he called his band Mindcrime to get at his former bandmates. I’ll bet anything he wasn’t happy with the verdict. Meanwhile his former bandmates sound better than ever.

        Perhaps he’s just bitter that his voice has gone, even though I don’t mind the songs i’ve heard. Sad, really. Operation Mindcrime is a fantastic album.

      • ghost whistler

        2 guitarists, keyboard player, drummer, bassist, him, and…? Cowbell player?

        • Remember the part about multiple sax solos

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I can´t hear the words “sax solo” without having that Careless Whisper sax intro play in my head… what a fucking curse!

          • Anthony Twyford

            Man…I’m pissing myself with laughter….review and comments here are awesome…very funny guys…very clever Geoff Tate bagouts…I seen him twice in Sydney 06 & 09 with Queensryche, he was awesome…I sad for him now!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Most likely a tambourine player. Or a sax player. Either would suck WAY more than a cowbell player.

    • CarvedInStone

      If I remember the whole ordeal that was the battle between Tate and his former bandmates he won the exclusive rights to play the album “Operation: Mindcrime” in it”s entirety as well as the name. I suppose he did it because “Operation: Mindcrime” is still regarded as a classic and people associate it with good memories so they’re more likely to pick it up as compared to if it was just labeled as another Geoff Tate album.

      • ghost whistler

        I know he has the rights, but seriously to use that as the name is a bit lame.

        Fair play to Queensryche for winning their name, but i actually quite liked Rising West.

        • CarvedInStone

          It is. No doubt about that. But I can’t blame him for trying to cling on to the album that made Queensryche a household name and established him as one of the alltime great metal singers.

          But it almost hurts to look at what he has become. How the mighty have fallen…

  • Dat sexy chest tho.

  • Chris Timbó

    Meanwhile, Queensrÿche releases a video of “Guardian”. Hell of a song… Sad that Geoff can’t compete on the same level as his former bandmates. I thought he would, just for the hell of it and to spite Rockenfeld and Co, go against his every instinct and try to record the heavy metal album of the decade. Shame on me for believing in him…

    • Dr_Fisting

      The new-look Queensryche hasn’t fully earned my confidence yet either, although that self-titled record was a HUGE step in the right direction. It’s pretty clear that Tate was hardly the source of their quality material.

      • They only need to bring DeGarmo back from retirement.

        • Dr_Fisting

          Dude, you’re not kidding…

      • Chris Timbó

        I agree. While it was great to see a change in the right direction, the last one wasn’t that good. In my opinion, if it was released by any band other than Queensryche, it would not have been taken as anything but an alright effort that nobody would remember months later. Hope it was just a rehersal, to get the guys in the mood for whatever comes next. And judging from the songs they released, I think we’re in for, at least, a very good record.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        After stepping right into a steaming pile of shit, a step in any direction is a step in the right direction.

  • manimal

    I think your scoring system should be revised. What additional efforts could they have gone to for that ever-elusive 0.0? I propose the following for bands that ask themselves this very question:

    -pan-pipes remix version of the stranger -> -1.0
    -Amaranthe cover -> -0.5
    -rewritten story-line by John Romero -0.5
    -guest vocals by Jon Davis / Fred Durst -1.5

    -guest vocals by David Draiman -3.5
    -have Michael Flatley redo the album art (I kid you not, this man is into painting) -> -2.0
    -Music video direction by any Kardashian -> -4.0
    -Repackage the concept with a fifty shades of grey theme -> Just report to your local vet to be put to sleep and we’ll call it quits.

    • Dr_Fisting

      This only got a 1.0 because it was less terrible than Tate’s last solo album, which got an 0.5. The .5 was only because it made me laugh.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Suggestion for Tate: If you’re gonna have the album cover focusing on some random necklace logo permeating from someone’s half-bare chest, for the love of GOD, at least make said chest a woman’s!

    • At least we now know he’s not sexist and is into equal opportunities for album covers.

      Also, it could’ve been way worse. I seem to remember a barely clothed Tate in one of those awful suede vests in more than one cover.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Oh, sexist, schmexist. I think even most women would agree that women simply have been adorned with nicer chest areas than their macho counterparts. They have softer, smoother skin, and there’s that other thing, too. (Or, shall we say, those other TWO things).

        • oh I don’t think liking women busts is sexist. I’m just saying at least he’s not discriminating against smooth depilated well tanned men chests.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Because BOOBS make everything better! Then the boobs would have been the only good thing about the album

    • pfreak

      Hey, hey, hey now. It’s not a random necklace logo, it’s him ripping off the tri-ryche in an attempt to make everyone still think he’s in the band.

  • As hilariously awesome as this review was, I have a question. Based on what I’ve read about how this site chooses records to review, does that mean Tate actually sent this album to AGM and requested a review? After his last review? But… why?

    • Dr_Fisting

      We usually get sent albums by the artist’s label and/or PR firm. They tend to send those things out via mass email to a list of websites and print ‘zines, and rarely bother to filter anyone out based on a previous bad review. We’ll probably get Geoff Tate’s music sent to us for as long as he keeps making it, sadly.

      • So, like a primitive god the record companies indiscriminately sow the seeds of madness among the reviewers, and AMG, like a mad war chief, assigns to Dr. Fisting the task of grappling with the latest horror-spawn.

        You know, you could probably do a whole album based on the trauma AMG is inflicting on you.

        • You have accurately and succinctly described the promo cycle all over the entire Internet. Kudos.

        • Oh the stories I could tell, but I’m currently committed and they don’t let me have visitors.

        • Dr_Fisting

          Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly how it works. BTW, I am curled up in the fetal position right now after hearing this album.

        • basenjibrian

          Or a movie?

      • CarvedInStone

        He’s on Frontiers Records right now, isn’t he? Why would they sign him?

        • Tanuki

          Sounds like the perfect label for him actually!

          • CarvedInStone

            It is in a way. Not just because of the name. A big part of the Frontiers Records business model is to sign all washed up 80s Hard Rock and Melodic Rock bands and/or the solo projects of the members of said bands. Tate fits into that concept perfectly.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    It’s time for Tate to be deported to Antarctica where he can play for the penguins.

    • Dr_Fisting

      That would be cruelty to animals.

      • Kronos

        Cattle Decapitation won’t stand for that.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What have those penguins done?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I might be out of line here, but I believe just reviewing this album is wrong. You´re rewarding with attention this… this… this attention whore.

    • Hey we’re having a good laugh about it at least.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Well, it had to be good for something, right?

    • Hulksteraus

      I just think that whatever gets sent gets reviewed so that they can legitimately have a scoring system that can produce low scores to high scores.

      But yeah, going to need that time machine to go back and assassinate Tate right after he sacked Queensryche and went out on his own :-)

      • Fermín A. Agudelo Gómez

        How about assesinating you instea, what have achieve, and who are you to judge???

  • Iliast

    Apparently, the trilogy is about…bitcoin? “I can’t talk about it too much at this point, but I can tell you that it’s a trilogy — it’s three albums that all relate to each other; it’s a story. It’s something I’ve been working on quite a long time, and I’m finally in a position to do it now. So I’m very excited about it. It’s a very cool and very interesting subject. It’s very topical, it’s very ‘now.’ I can say that it’s an international story, it’s set in a number of different countries around the world, and it has some central characters who are involved with an international incident. It has to do with virtual currencies and Internet banking and stock trading.”

    • Dr_Fisting

      HAHAHAHAHAHA yes!!!! That’s amazing.

    • Oh dear Cthulhu, that’s what we needed. A trilogy about e-trading. Someone get Ridley Scott on the phone and pitch a movie about this.

    • CarvedInStone

      Everytime someone makes a concept album and than says something like Geoff said I automatically assume they themselves have now Idea what the album is supposed to be about. Same goes for Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia. Really good albums but I have no idea what kind of story he is trying to tell me and judging by his reluctance to have the story printed out in the booklets and his constant raving about how the listener should discover the storie for himself neither does he. I hate that. If you have something to say just fucking say it and don’t be a pretentious douchebag.

    • So Tate thinks we should buy or sell Bitcoin? I need answers now, my retirement may depend on it!

      • Iliast

        Stock picks and cryptocurrency best bets are all encoded on the USB that comes the last album of the trilogy! I have it on good authority that Tate approves of Dogecoin only.

        • basenjibrian

          is Tate a 17th century Venetian nobleman in his previous life?

          • Fermín A. Agudelo Gómez

            I don’t think so, he is more Britt
            than an Italian, French and Spaniard.




        • Sir Tapir The Based :]

          Fuck! More competition for my Tapircoins!

          • You told me the Tapircoins are devaluated, I have to invest in other side! :(

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            They’re on the rise again!

        • I’m going use those to Tate my wagon.

  • tomasjacobi

    I want to thank Mr. Tate for releasing this album so that we get to read this amazing review!

    • Pimpolho

      I hope he keeps sucking just so we keep getting these great reviews

      • Dr_Fisting

        Thanks, you guys, but…I’d much prefer he just stopped.

  • tomasjacobi

    Also, I’m now a fan of Nocturnus after reading this review.

    • Pimpolho

      You were missing out!

    • Dr_Fisting

      I’m glad SOMETHING good came of this debacle.

  • Worldeater

    Review of the month!

  • I’m almost still a kid-these-days but I’m definitely not into this.
    (Does he ever wear a fedora? Cause I get that vibe from him.)

    • RicoSuaveGuapo

      Oh yeah.

  • Thatguy

    I never rated Tate, but I wanted to say something positive – that is until I listened to the embedded track….

    You are right, Dr Fisting. Tate can’t be stopped. I am astounded this could be released with a straight face – and those uncountable dudes in the band picture all look pretty serious.

    • basenjibrian

      They should get at least some props for the haircuts, the monochrome color scheme, and THE HATS. Operation:Fedoracryme!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    In all seriousness : The Honest All-Knowing Fuck is wrong with this guy?!

    • Hard drugs and an ego the size of a banana republic

      • Dr_Fisting

        Probably not hard drugs…just a lot of cheap wine.

  • madhare

    On my tablet I first just got almost a full screen view of that chest before the texts loaded. So I thought, “whaaat… is it another Tom(b) of Finland album already?!”

  • Iskandar Reza

    Please for the love of god let part 2 be named The Vest.

    • [not a Dr] Gonzalo Salazar

      The Key, the Vest and the Chest?

  • dblbass23

    First and foremost: Is there a sax solo ANYWHERE on this album?? (Sorry….I posted the question before reading the review. Should have read it first, huh?)

    • mirror

      Album feels like a mix of Kings and Thieves and the second half is really Dedicated to Chaos. Just awful. Kings and Thieves: Another rap/rock piece of trash. Lots of acoustic slow stuff, fake atmospheric east Asian instrumentation. The more Tate tries to sound edgy the more he sounds the same.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I just got it! He called it Operation Mindcrime because listening to this is a crime against your mind!

  • SelfIndulgence

    So does this mean the vaudeville act is finished?

  • El Gran Pez

    The hell is this? Never really been a Queensryche fan but I can tell someone has obviously lost his mind after watching that cover, band line-up and that ridiculous song and video.

  • Innit Bartender

    Is this the 1st metal album featuring a USB key on the cover?

  • sir_c

    Summarized, the embedded clip comprises of rebellant Rage Against The “Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me” Machine schoolboy lyrics, overlayed with Korny dropped badass bass and overly tightened “Honda Goldwing” leatherette-shaven-balls vocals.

    Well, that must be some cracker of an album, no?

    • Dr_Fisting

      That was awesome. You should work here.

  • BILL C

    Your review was spot on! I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I had the misfortune of hearing The Key and felt I needed to ear wash myself with gasoline to removed the memory from my head. By the way you had me laughing with tears reading your review.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Thanks, man. Humor is often a good way to cope with traumatic events.

  • Robinguymn

    This is one of the funniest reviews I’ve read in a long while. :) New album from QR souns very promising so far.

  • Monsterworks

    Even though I stayed current with the Queensryche legal debacle and the just decision was made at the end of that, I hoped that both entities might go on to produce great new material after a few decades in the wilderness. I lost interest in Queensryche at or just after Empire. They were already going down the “adult contemporary rock” rabbit hole on that album, when Chris DeGarmo was still in the band.
    Geoff Tate was one of the greatest metal vocalists in his heyday, although he needed a great band behind him to truly shine. For his past glory he deserved a second chance. I bet even he regretted the poor behaviour leading up to the split.
    I don’t doubt that The Key is a far cry from Tate’s best work but I did have this crazy dream that maybe he could pull off one last epic concept album (…an epic trilogy was pushing it).
    However, from what I’ve heard of various new Queensryche tracks, I cannot get past the fact that La Torre sounds exactly like Tate. Like, not even a tiny bit different. It is the vocal equivalent of one of those Kemper guitar amps that “learns” the tone of any other guitar amp….effectively stealing its soul. It might sound like a perfect emulation but when you know its not the original a lot of the magic is lost.
    Maybe I can get over that one day…and I think I could if the new music was outright incredible. As it stands, it just seems to be quite good. Mind you, La Torre is the right guy for touring because he delivers what the crowd will want.
    In any event, I suppose we will be graced with some amusing reviews like this one about the Tate downfall.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Agreed 1000% on all counts, except I think LaTorre is trying to bust out of the “Tate clone” perception. If you check out the 2 new songs that QR released, he sounds much more aggressive, and kind of like old-school Ray Alder.

  • Styler

    That one song alone has so many hilarious lines, Mr Tate’s ultimate gift must be delivering this stuff with a straight face.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    This isn’t nearly as bad as the last album, it’s WORSE!!! I went in with an open mind, well it just closed (after hearing the whole) thing. Now I feel ill. LOL No wonder we download free music (wink)

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Oh btw, you want a GREAT solo album, listen to Chris Cornells. Kind of light, acoustic, but brilliant tunes, vocals, and choruses.

  • mirror

    There are people out there that say people who hate this album are haters of Tate and Tate is QR, blah/blah/blah. But really did they even listen to his latest albums or just drink up the Koolaid and say Queensryche was Tate through Empire. i guarantee you 9/10 of these imbeciles never heard anything after that album. What is Hear in the Now Frontier? What was Mindcrime II? “Really I never knew there was a sequel”. Show yer tits. Get a life..

  • Eel Wiz

    This albums biggest achievement: released before the real QR album.

    • Anthony Twyford


  • Nathan Rader

    Sounds like Tate is just making it easier for everyone to see Who the true Talent and Band is.. I anticipating disappointment from Condition Human but from what I have heard I know I wont be..
    Tate on the other hand needs to just drop out and try retirement

  • dblbass23

    I hate it already. And have yet to hear the first song from it. Good job guys.

  • “the sonic equivalent of a middle-aged man lurking in an elementary school playground.” Also thinking of Def Leppard here.

  • “And don’t even get me started on all the unintentional homoeroticism.” What’s Manowar up to these days?

  • Thord Möller

    I guess i should be slapped! The review made me laugh pretty much even though i dont agree much at all with it.

  • John Mcgee

    I am a Geoff fan from his queensryche days but man this album is horrible, I could hardly listen to one track without skipping to the next, I have to give a thumbs down to this new album and a Thumbs up to the new tracks form the reformed Queensryche with Latorre.

  • Anthony Twyford

    This review was awesome! Massive laugh fest at this review and comments…can’t wait to see your Slayer Repentless review!

  • Fermín A. Agudelo Gómez

    Operation mindcrime the key album or cd is pretty good in fact very good and out of 5 stars I give it 4 because at 5 would be perfect.

  • JeffLouxinSacramentoCalifornia

    Jeff’s past that stage but its given Jeff hope and its out of Jeff’s hands. This won’t ever (Kelly Gray wank solo). “I don’t hate Jeff Tate at all. What are you hater, he’s still relevant even though this disc sold only 2,000 copies and no will hear this album. Neither will Queensryche at 5000 copies sold for Condition Unknown. Frequency Unknown sold better than the proper Ryche album. haha the Proepr Turdryche.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Last I checked, “Condition Human” sold about 13,000 copies.

    • Grawmps

      If every Tate fan is as retarded as you then he deserves the abysmally low sales he’s gotten for The Key so far.

  • Mitchell Davis

    Quensryche is beating Operation Mindcrime IMO. Listen to the song Guardian.

  • Dwuso

    The second volume in the trilogy is more of the same crap. This time he has the gall to put horns and trumpets to go along with his sax playing. Granted the music has gotten better but the spoken word vocals are just as laughably bad as ever. And yet some how people out there want Tate to return to Queensryche

    Why? So he can record more of the same crap that made them remove from the band in the first place?

    I find the slower songs, particular the last one and acoustic tracks are the best on these albums. From the first album we had An Ambush of Sadness and Kicking in the Door as 3 of the best songs. The closing track on both albums are the best tracks period. Go figure. Geoff Tate, leaving the audience to want to him to stop playing until the very bitter end. I take he would like to retire, but the guy will continue to release albums until he dies because he needs the money and will capitalize on the publicity of whatever the proper Queensryche entity is doing at the moment for business.

    You don’t have the name, you have to make a buck some how.

    • Dr_Fisting

      I’m sad to say it, but a review of the new O:M record is in the works.