Operation: Mindcrime – ‘The New Reality’ (Review)

If metal could be tied down to a number of iconic soundbites or phrases, “Operation: Mindcrime” would most certainly be high on the list after the seminal Queensryche rock-opera of the same title. Recently such a phrase has found yet again its prevalence in the corridors of rock with the emergence of ex-Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate and his concept project Operation: Mindcrime, whose third studio album ‘The New Reality’ is set to hit the market on December 1, 2017. The album is the final chapter of a conceptual musical trilogy and features a diverse array of musicians supporting Tate, including John Moyer of Disturbed, Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC, Dio, UFO), Brian Tichy (ex-Whitesnake, Foreigner), Kelly Gray, Scott Mercado and Scott Moughton. The album was produced by Geoff Tate and Kelly Gray and is set for release via Frontiers Records. 

The first song of the album is the mood-setting ‘A Head Long Jump‘ which is really a game of two halves, beginning with organic electronica-styled sampling before bursting into high-voltage rock with a dash of post-punk and early goth. ‘Wake Me Up’ is an anthemic, synth-driven hard rock number and is notable for its usage of highly synthesized orchestration. ‘It Was Always You’, like the opening number opens with a spiralling touch of electronic ambience before an ebullition of reverberated drums and dynamic bass lines. After the first half of the song which is mostly occupied by the transparent incandescence of Tate’s socio-political lyricism the track wanders into instrumental territory with high emphasis upon saxophone and synthesizers. ‘The Fear’ begins as a continuation of the oneiric-meets psychedelic instrumental tendencies expressed in the previous track before the vocals eventually kick in. Synthesizers / electronic percussion is incredibly rife here. ‘Under Control’ is a blues-metal type song with a punchy yet melodic chorus; – mildly pessimistic and gloomy though the heavily phased / wah-wah guitar solo gives it more of a fun edge. The aforementioned song segues into the seven-minute title track which returns to the sweetly lethargic and psychedelic tones which seem to take an awful lot of precedence so far. A common theme throughout the track is a heavy syncopated riff which works nicely as a transition point between the verses. After a languid electronic improv-styled section the track then moves into saxophone territory after the following words are uttered; – “In the blink of your eye everything changes.” And so it does. ‘My Eyes’ is a gritty sonic experience with a lot of interesting left-to-right modulation of samples, synths, fuzz guitar, vocal distortion and rhythms although the chorus is once again quite an immediate hook. ‘A Guitar in Church?’ is a very visual type of song and would work very well as an accompanying film soundtrack. It begins with metronome-fused percussion, brooding acoustic guitars akin to the opening of a Western and menacing synth-strings before the track blossoms into a delightfully cosmic instrumental. ‘All For What?’ begins with the sound of advanced machinery before moulding itself into an oppressively dark spoken-word section. Piano and strings are the dominant forms of instrumentation throughout which carry this climactic yet theatrical portion of the album. The cascading wind-chimes are utilized as a symbol of repose which interestingly conflict with the dramatic nature of the song. ‘The Wave’ has a quasi-disco feel, – in actual fact a large degree of the record does due to the usage of gated snares. If, of course, a lot of the themes weren’t quite as conspicuously dystopian perhaps it would go down rather well in that market! ‘Tidal Change’at barely a minute’s length is a musical continuation of the previous track albeit with more lead guitar which then segues into final track, ‘The Same Old Story’, which closes the album in a similar vein to how it began with introspective narrative and cold-wave stylings.

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