OPERATION: MINDCRIME
Alternative Metal • United States

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Geoff Tate's version of Queensrÿche was created in 2012, after Tate was booted from Queensrÿche. The first release by this version of Queensrÿche, released April 23, is called "Frequency Unknown".

From Wikipedia: "On September 1, Geoff Tate announced a new Queensrÿche lineup on his official Facebook page, featuring Rudy Sarzo, Bobby Blotzer, Glen Drover, and two of his former band mates from Myth, Kelly Gray and Randy Gane. Drover left the band on November 23, 2012, and on January 25, his replacement was announced to be guitarist Robert Sarzo, while Blotzer has been replaced on drums by Simon Wright."

In 2014, Tate, after a dispute over the rights to use the name 'Queensrÿche' was settled, Tate changed the name of his project to 'Operation: Mindcrime'
Thanks to Time Signature for the addition

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.. Album Cover 1.75 | 7 ratings
Frequency Unknown
Alternative Metal 2013

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.. Album Cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Silent Lucidity: Greatest Hits
Alternative Metal 2013

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OPERATION: MINDCRIME Reviews

OPERATION: MINDCRIME Frequency Unknown

Album · 2013 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Frequency Unknown" is the debut full-length studio album by US hard rock/heavy metal act Queensrÿche Starring Geoff Tate the Original Voice. The album was released through Deadline Music in April 2013.

After Lead vocalist Geoff Tate was fired from Queensrÿche he opted to create his own version of the band with a new backing band including seasoned musicians like former Queensrÿche colleague Kelly Gray (guitars), Rudy Sarzo (Blue Öyster Cult, Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake) on bass and drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio). In addition to those guys, the album features quite a few guest appearances by artists like K. K. Downing (Judas Priest), Chris Poland (Megadeth) and Lita Ford (Lita Ford). The band started recording "Frequency Unknown" in January 2013. The recording sessions ended in early March 2013.

The recording and the release of the album have been surrounded by quite a bit of controversy. First of all Geoff Tate´s booting from Queensrÿche was anything but amicable and as a result both parties now lay claim to the Queensrÿche name. A legal twist that at this moment is still not resolved. Secondly the release date of the album was announced mere hours after the other version of Queensrÿche announced the release date of their album. A move that from the outside seems a bit calculated and as a rather pathetic attempt to "beat the others to it". The decision to release "Frequency Unknown" sooner than it was probably scheduled backfired on Tate and Deadline Music though as the early pressings of the album featured a much criticized mix, that resulted in the label having to offer to send dissatisfied customers a replacement CD containing the remixes upon showing their purchase receipt. Thirdly and lastly "Frequency Unknown" features, in addition to the 10 original tracks on the album, 4 re-recorded tracks from "Empire (1990)" and "Operation: Mindcrime (1988)" as bonus material. That´s not as such an issue. The issue is the motivation behind recording and including the bonus tracks as Tate has openly admitted that Deadline Music offered him a lot of money to do the re-recordings and that the money was the motivation behind recording the 4 tracks. They even asked him to record them as true as possible to the originals and he obeyed. Now that´s what I call a corrupted motivation for creating art...

...the actual music on the album is not surprisingly a rather formulaic and polished hard rock/heavy metal style with Geoff Tate´s distinct, strong and warm vocals in front. There are little if any surprises in store for the listener, if you´ve tuned your expectations to the music on the album sounding like a pale version of some of the more accessible and least heavy material released by Queensrÿche post-"Promised Land (1994)". There are a riff here and a guitar solo there, that do their part in trying to save what is overall a rather lacklustre affair completely lacking energy and bite, but that´s just not enough. How so many seasoned and prolific musicians can write and play music this tame and almost completely forgettable is just sad. The unpleasant and flat sounding original mix with no dynamics worth mentioning is another show stopper and overall there´s very little positive to say about "Frequency Unknown". If this is the way Geoff Tate is going to carry the Queensrÿche torch in the future, I hope he loses the right to the band name, because the music on "Frequency Unknown" is sub par to anything produced by the band in the past. A 2 star (40%) rating is warranted.

OPERATION: MINDCRIME Frequency Unknown

Album · 2013 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Frequency Unknown' - Tateryche (3/10)

There are few things that unite the metal community so much as a healthy hatred for a shitty album. Metalheads are still blasting Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake" over beers a quarter-century following its release, as similarly has been the case for Metallica's "St. Anger". More recently- and especially since social media took off- these love-to-hate-'em records seem to become social events; there were jokes and memes aplenty about the infamous "Ilud Divinum Insanus" by Morbid Angel, or "Lulu" by (again) Metallica. Although there's no doubt that these blackmarked records indeed deserve the flak and lambast they've received, I've gotten the impression that such overwhelming and ubiquitous vitriol for an album can lead to a herd effect, where listeners will despise a record before it's even released. I've seen "Frequency Unknown" called everything from 'pop rock trash' to 'the worst album ever made', and though this Geoff Tate-dominated offshoot of the original Queensryche is little- deserving of praise, the album is not nearly as atrocious as some of the more adamant naysayers might have us believe. Unless you're dead set on comparing "Frequency Unknown" to the work of the band's heyday, there's little of an overtly offensive nature to be heard here. It's sterile, shallow and completely harmless, and in a way, that's a fate far worse than the atrocity fans prematurely made it out to be; at least then, I may have felt something from this.

Queensryche- or, as I will refer to this project henceforth in the review, Tateryche- has been the subject of some controversy in the recent months. The stories of threats at knifepoint, business squabbles and total artistic meltdown could easily be adapted as a film or critically-acclaimed television series. I could write paragraphs on the drama alone, but the important thing is that two Queensryches have emerged from the ashes, one being the 'real' Queensryche, the other being longtime vocalist Geoff Tate and a revolving door of musicians to play under him. In this sense, it's sort of like what happened with the two Rhapsody of Fires, although they never let the drama get overtop of the music. Although it's yet to be seen what the real Queensryche will do under these new terms, Tateryche has embraced this drama and anger to the point where it has become the music. The album's initials ("F.U") are as subtle as bolded caps-lock, and the lyrics make no effort to veil Tate's bitterness. The album's six-week production cycle seems rushed only to have an album out before the opposition. Ultimately, it's impossible to regard the album without its dubious context, and though it pains me to say as a lifelong Queensryche fan, there would be no reason to check out this album were it not for the circumstances around it.

There is little surprise in "Frequency Unknown"s musical direction. 2011's "Dedicated to Chaos" was a pretty awful result of Tate's desire to take the band down a more commercially viable and rock-oriented direction. Although it may sound hopeful to call "Frequency Unknown" a step up from that dismal low, there's not a great deal separating this from radio rock detritus. Modern rock radio is indeed a good place to reference when thinking of Queensryche in this latest incarnation. Concise riffs, generic guitar solos and an autistic focus on choruses define the approach to songwriting here. The only thing that really distinguishes this from a hit single is the fact that the songs here are nowhere near memorable or catchy enough to be worth the airwaves. Though there are a couple of fortunately notable exceptions to the rule, "Frequency Unknown" sits in that ugly place where the mainstream goes wrong. It's not even catchy in a bad way like Rebecca Black's "Friday" (remember that one?) or "Gangnam Style". It's simply by-the-numbers rock. Although the backing musicians (particularly bassist Rudy Sarzo) are talented, there's either the sense that they were given no artistic license to express themselves, or no time to express themselves effectively. The guitar solos- while functional- sound sloppy, as if they were the first or second cut of an improvised noodling.

Thankfully, a few songs stand out. Although "Cold" is as conventional and by-the-numbers as it gets, it's an enjoyable tune that oddly reminds me somehow of Kamelot, sans their symphonic element. "The Weight of the World" ends the album on a surprisingly progressive element, slowing down the pace and letting a drama and atmosphere, however bland, to build up as the album ends. Without a doubt however, the album's highlight and one truly enjoyable offering is "In the Hands of God", an eerie and exotic track that recalls their underrated album "Promised Land". If you've had the magnanimous fortune to come across a 'special edition' copy of the album, Geoff Tate includes a few re-recorded versions of Queensryche classics. It's really here where you get the impression how objectively inferior Tateryche is, especially when compared to the 1980s golden days. Tate himself has stated that these covers were only recorded for the healthy cash bonus included, and they sound just as impassionate as you would suspect. On these covers and the album as a whole, Tate's voice remains distinctive, but it's clear he retains a fraction of the range he once did. "I Don't Believe In Love" is particularly criminal; he can't hit notes and makes no effort to adapt the arrangement accordingly. Covers- even under the bleak auspices of Tateryche- could have conceivably worked, but only if they had done something fresh with them. Had I been there, I could have made the suggestion to do some down-to-earth unplugged covers. Unfortunately, the re-recorded versions are all the more explicit a reminder that this is no longer Queensryche we're dealing with.

If Queensryche was Lego, then this (whatever this is) is Mega Bloks. As much as it might try to persuade us otherwise, it's an inferior version of a better-known, better-loved thing. "Frequency Unknown" does get some things right, but there are too many weaknesses for it to be enjoyable. A rough, unfinished production mix (that has since been moderately improved), unimaginative musicianship and painfully conventional songwriting keep Tateryche from rising above the silly drama and context. Bitterness can sometimes translate into great art, but at this point, it seems bitterness is the only thing Tate has left. "Frequency Unknown" is not the end-all disasterpiece that some people may have hoped it would be, but there isn't much of a redeeming value here. I do retain a shred of hope that Tateryche might be able to come unto its own and do something interesting, but after seeing how low the Queensryche name has been dragged over the past decade, I wouldn't be surprised future work is stained with equal disappointment and apathy. What I'm most excited for is to see what the other 'ryche will do now. If they manage to come out with anything resembling a solid record, then this schism will have been for the best. As far as Mr. Tate is concerned however, it may be best to focus on memories of better days gone past.

OPERATION: MINDCRIME Frequency Unknown

Album · 2013 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Time Signature
Cold...

Genre: traditional heavy metal

Queensrÿche were once one of the world's premier progressive metal bands, releasing sophisticated yet accessible classics like "Operation: Mindcrime", "Empire" and "The Promised Land" among others, but after "Hear in the Now Frontier", which took a more grunge-oriented turn things went downhill with only a couple of interesting releases amidst a mass of, compared to the classics, boring albums. As we all know, the post-"Frontiers" era has been turbulent and ended with Queensrÿche being slit into two: one consisting of the founding members plus Todd LaTorre and Parker Lundgren, and one with Geoff Tate and essentially a bunch of hired hands.

With both versions of Queensrÿche aiming to release an album in 2013, there was a bit of a race going on to release first, I think - a race which Tate won with the release of "Frequency Unknown" way before the other Queensrÿche released their album. But is the release of "Frequency Unknown" really a victory? Is it enough to just release an album before the other Queensrÿche?

Well, no. The album will of course also have to be musically interesting? And, to be frank, "Frequency Unknown" does not strike me as interesting. It features music which is more in the vein of post-"Frontier" Queensrÿche - that is, more alternative metal with grunge and groove elements, and very few, if any, progressive elements. There are some heavy moments to be sure as in 'Slave', 'Running Backwards' and 'Dare'. While there are some good moments on the album, such as many of the guitar solos provided by guest musicians like Lita Ford, K.K. Downing and Chris Poland, "Frequency Unknown" simply is not interesting musically. I am biased, I know, but the Queensrÿche that appeals to me is the Queensrÿche that made albums like "The Warning", "Rage for Order", "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Empire". And "Frequency Unknown" is nowhere near the level of brilliance that characterize those albums. So "Frequency Unknown" barely qualifies as a Queensrÿche album to me.

"Frequency Unknown" has been criticized for being badly produced, and I have to join the ranks of the critics here. It sounds tinny and imbalanced - like the production was really rushed, so the album could be released as quickly as possible. The guitars are fuzzy and the drums sound thin, as do Tate's vocals. Only the lead guitars sound pretty good. The tinny production detracts immensely from the listening experience, and it really shines through in the re-recordings of the classics 'I Don't Believe in Love', 'Empire', 'Jet City Woman', and 'Silent Lucidity'. The four tracks should probably never have been re-recorded as they reveal all the weaknesses of "Frequency Unknown".

An okay alternative metal album, to be sure, "Frequency Unknown" is, in my opinion, nonetheless not worthy of being marketed as a Queensrÿche album. It simply lacks all things that I consider Queensrÿche qualities. If the intention with this album was to beat the other Queensrÿche, then "Frequency Unknown" has also lost that race, because it has just made me look even more forward to the release of the other Queensrÿche's (or, dare I say, the real Queensrÿche's) album.

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