Monday, September 19, 2016

Album Review: Operation:Mindcrime - Resurrection

It's been a rough couple of years for Geoff Tate. His last outing with Queensryche was the horribly received "Frequency Unknown" (which I actually liked), which then led to the slightly better reviewed debut from his new outfit (which I absolutely hated), which leads us to the second part of the trilogy just a year later. I'll give Tate credit for one thing; it's not easy to keep going out there and putting out new records when most of the people who will hear it are already dead-set on hating the result. At this point, there's nothing he could do that will make people happy, which in a way has to be liberating. Unfortunately, that attitude led to one of the worst albums of last year, a bizarre mess of influences that never should have been put together. But for some reason, I feel more optimistic about this second effort, so I'm willing to give it a chance.

After wasting a minute of my life with a mostly silent 'introduction', the first few seconds of "When All Falls Away" immediately raises a big issue; the production. I don't any of the details about how this album was recorded, but the sound is muffled and below par. Perhaps Tate tried to record all three of these albums on the normal budget of one, but the sound is lacking from what I expect of a professional album these days.

Of course, the other issue is that the album starts with that pointless intro, and then goes straight into a two minute instrumental, followed by a thirty second setup piece, and another one minute track. It's more than five minutes into the record before an actual song starts playing, which is an unacceptable amount of time. When I have hundreds of new albums to get through, superfluous material that serves no purpose only makes me more inclined to turn the record off before I can even give it a chance. Whoever sequenced this album made a horrible mistake that ruined any chance of the album being good.

But what happens once the music gets going?

The first real song is "Left For Dead", which is one of the better songs Tate has written in a long time. There are a few hints of his prog past in the scales used by the guitar leads, but the song is at its heart an arena-ready rock number, which is a standard it lives up to well. Tate wisely sticks to his voice's best range these days, and the main melody is the kind of thing that doesn't sound impressive, but before you know it you have it stuck in your head. It feels to me like a song that could have been on "Frequency Unknown", so take that for what you will.

After that, the album starts to get weird. "Healing My Wounds" is an odd mixture of funky bass, what sounds like a Japanese motif, and then for good measure a saxophone solo thrown on top of it all. It's an odd juxtaposition between that track and "The Fight", which is a really nice semi-ballad that uses a more melodic approach to showcase Tate in his best light.

"Taking On The World" is a better experiment, where the band is able to segue from a stomping heavy riff to a sing-along chorus that balances the sides of the band's appeal. It shows that for whatever odd predilections Tate might have when it comes to his music, he can still still down and write a good, solid rock song. Like a lot of artists, though, I think he gets lost in his desire to be a creative force, and doesn't realize where his talents are best suited. That might make him feel good about his creative energy, but it makes records that don't focus on what he's best at. If he turned out an entire album as good as the songs I've highlighted, he certainly wouldn't have endured so much media harassment.

But ultimately, while "Resurrection" is a better album than the first one, I can't say it's really all that good as an album. There are a few really good songs here, and the makings of something great, but Tate is unable to focus long enough to let it develop. Just when you get a song that is fantastic, it's followed up by one that doesn't seem to have the slightest idea what it is. The album is scattershot like that, and making it through the entirety without wondering what exactly you're listening to is a bit difficult. There are things about "Resurrection" I like, but not enough to give this a recommendation as anything more than something to give a curious listen to.

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