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OSI - Office Of Strategic Influence CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.96 | 267 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Enjoyable Techno-Trippy Conspiracy Theory Music

My closest prog-head friend, a bass player who has introduced me to more prog than anyone else, loves Kevin Moore. We saw him together on the last Dream Theater tour he performed on (Awake), and like many I think the band lost some of their musicality when they switched to hotter and faster chops-hounds. My friend has virtually everything Moore has recorded, whether under his own name, the Chroma Key moniker, or this collaboration with Jim Matheos of Fates Warning, ominously named OSI (Office of Strategic Influence.)

Moore recruited all-stars Sean Malone of Cynic, former band-mate Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, and even the then-ubiquitous Steven Wilson for vocals and songwriting tweaks on one track. But this album / project lies somewhere between Moore solo album and Moore / Matheos collaboration, with strong guest performances, and is credited that way. As such, Moore's textured but limited vocals are featured along with his dark, sometimes paranoid or depressive lyrics, but also his very good industrial meets ambient keyboard work. Matheos' guitar adds another layer of heaviness and finally Moore has a total sound that matches his inner turmoil.

That overall sound I would rate as good to very good, well performed, somewhat progressive, and pleasant to listen to. Moore does have a fair melodic sense but his limited vocal range doesn't allow him to fully exploit it. Songs like "When You're Ready" and "Head" feature strong melodic themes to center them, but by the end of the album, the vocals seems a little spent in terms of creativity. For instance, the instrumentally interesting "Hello Helicopter" would have greatly benefited from stronger vocals. Throughout, there is a sense of repetition and monotone that loses my interest after awhile, although the keys do continue to explore new territory from start to finish.

Portnoy's playing here is very well done, remarkably restrained, despite a few spots where he gets to inject a little of his trademark complexity. Malone also does a great job, even getting a few solo spots that are well placed. Wilson's contribution on "SHUTdown" is fairly stock for him, which is good for the album, but nothing new for PT fans. My biggest gripe, however, is that I was a bit disappointed in Matheos' contribution. His guitar parts are, to me, too restrained, too simple. We need more of him to balance out Moore. What we get is good, but I want more. We get a glimpse of what could have been on the Matheos-penned "Dirt from a Holy Place," but that is a relatively basic instrumental.

Overall, I'm glad to have this album in my library. Fans of Moore should have this album, as it's probably his best since leaving DT. Good but non-essential is an appropriate descriptor.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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