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OSI - Office of Strategic Influence  (Limited Edition) CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.91 | 114 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Two years ago, when I first got Office of Strategic Influence, knowing that it was a side project of Dream Theater's long time drummer, Mike Portny and former DT Keyboardist (now with Chroma Key) Kevin Moore and not being particularly fond of other such side projects, I set it aside while I listened to more promising selections only to forget about it. Sure I came across it from time to time but there was always something else to listen to first. Well finally after two years I have finally discovered OSI and have felt foolish for the last two weeks.

OSI - Office of Strategic Influence's record company is IOM - Inside Out Music and they seem to provide very nice packaging on occasion. With the Limited Edition OSI release you get a hardbound twenty page digi-book with slips for the two enclosed CDs. It is supposed to resemble a passport and the included pages have various stamps on the lyrics pages.

Ah, the Music!

As for the music, it is a wonderful confluence of murky atmospheric progressive rock and driving boisterous progressive heavy metal. Sounds scary doesn't it? Well don't worry, it's wonderful. In addition to Portny and Moore, we have Fates Warning Guitarist, Jim Matheos, whose idea it was for this production, Bassist, Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, Chroma Key) and guest singer Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson on track seven - "Shutdown". Wilson also wrote the lyrics for the unique "Shutdown", which comprises both styles in the same song All outer vocals were competently handled by Moore. Not surprisingly, three of the ten songs on disc 1 are instrumentals and vocals are somewhat sparse in the others (except "Shutdown"). On disc 2 two of the three songs are virtual instrumentals. On many of the songs there are voice samples, some from famous people like Dan Rather and President Bush. On "New Mama" on disc two there are several clips of dialogue from "Rambo - First Blood". Special effects are also utilized in some songs, though sparingly.

Highlight Songs

"The New Math" (instrumental) For me "The New Math" has a strong Dream Theater flavor. Not surprising considering the roots of the drummer and keyboard player. This is Heavy Progressive Metal plain and simple. This song has voice samples of Dan Rather throughout and doesn't miss a beat as it segues into "OSI", the same song, same melody, the same beat but with light vocals added. In fact Moore's vocals are so mellow and lacking emotion that they remind me of Steve Miller.

"Head" starts out fairly mild, though with heavy guitar accents but it also has an industrial essence and does in fact sound like a Tool or Deadsoul Tribe song throughout. It goes back and forth then ends as it starts.

"Shutdown" This ten plus minute number is the song that Steve Wilson guests on. It resembles "Head" somewhat with the first half is strongly atmospheric and mellow with a couple heavy guitar interludes. Wilson's vocals are certainly more emotive than Moores and Moores backs the vocals with melancholy synth harmonies. The second half is like a different song with heavy Tool sounding guitars and bass, drums too in a semi Eastern refrain!

Track List Disc Two 11. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (Bonus Track) ***** 12. New Mama (Bonus Track) **** 13. The Thing That Never Was (Bonus Track) *****

Highlight Songs

"Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" Yes I know, this nine minute track sounds awfully Floydian. Know why? It was written by Roger Waters and originally recorded by Pink Floyd in 1979. I would call this space rock in the style of Hawkwind but with some obvious Middle Eastern Seasoning. A very ethereal moody piece.

"The Thing That Never Was" is a seventeen minute Progressive masterpiece. It is an instrumental and there is enough variety to keep it interesting the whole way. It begins with a lone acoustic leading to a psychedelic/organ type keyboard intro into a Heavy Rhythm - Guitar/Bass/drum - tirade reminiscent of DT's "6:00" leading into about five minutes of superb progressive metal, breaking off @ the seven minute mark for a dose of a extremely pleasant ethereal almost bell sounding interlude per Moore's Keyboards. At the twelve minute mark we're back to the progressive metal mode and the explosive finale.


If you don't buy the Limited Edition version of this you don't get the twenty eight minute killer bonus disc with three great Progressive songs plus a twenty minute behind the scenes video documentary. Usually I don't feel bonus tracks or bonus CDs are worth while but this one is a Grande exception. You've got to fly Limited Edition on this'un.

Yes there a re a couple so so track but the preponderance of the music is exciting and so fresh that one overlooks an itsy bit of mediocrity. If You are a Progressive rock fanatic or a progressive metal aficionado, this is an essential album. It's a lttle of what your used to but it's also way different. I haven't dealt with the lyrics much because in a way they are insignificant to the music. They tend to deal with corruption and incompetence in government. Below are sample lyrics for "OSI" and "Shutdown"

"OSI" "Hate it when the truth unravels hate it when we don't get a spin hate it when the enemy travels 'cause it's awfully un-american."

"Shutdown" "shutDOWN your body shutDOWN your skin. shutDOWN your kisses shutDOWN within. shutDOWN your feelings shutDOWN your tongue. shutDOWN your dreaming mind shutDOWN your love."

"I gave a promise but it's just not enough for you. I lied and cheated and betrayed all my trust for you. I ripped my heart out threw it down on the bed for you. I crawled away and hid in shadows and dust for your love. "

Trust me on this, if you like Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, David Sylvian, Radiohead, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Pain Of Salvation, Anathema, Symphony X, DGM, Dreamscape, Threshold even Tool you most likely will OSI as well.

Bonus Disc "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a Pink Floyd cover performed by Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy. "New Mama" is a Neil Young cover performed by Kevin Moore. "The Thing That Never Was" is the original "Looks Like Rain" demo performed by Jim Matheos and Mike Portnoy.

The Multimedia Section is approximately 19 minutes long and includes a concept piece directed and edited by Kevin Moore for "Horsehoes and B-52s" as well as two separate documentary style clips shot at Carriage House Studios during the recording of the album.

semismart | 5/5 |


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