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OSI - Blood CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.69 | 206 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Carries oxygen to the brain.

Blood is the third album from supergroup OSI. Composed at its core of Jim Mathoes and Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater), this band first shook the progressive world with the release of their self-titled album back in 2003. Thanks to an eerie soundscape built by Moore's keyboards likely during his time working on Chroma Key the album enjoys status as a cult classic in the experimental progressive world, a pure mix of atmosphere and metal textures. They followed this up with the release of Free in 2006, an album less focused on being traditionally progressive and more about electronics and hard rock. Free was also the first album I ever reviewed for this site, so I find it appropriate to be typing away on their third release, Blood.

This has been a fairly anticipated album thanks to a number of things, and first off on the list is the guest stars. Recruited on drums this time around is percussion master and Porcupine Tree member, Gavin Harrison, who lends his very distinguishable sound to the album without drawing it close to PT comparisons. The other addition to the album isn't around throughout, but does make an appearance on Stockholm, and that would be none other than Opeth frontman, Mikael Akerfeldt. He definitely switches up the music a bit thanks to his very dark voice which admittedly sounds a lot less robotic than Moore's, although he is very restrained on the tune. Anyone expecting Akerfeldt to unleash some death growls will be disappointed, but those who just love his singing voice will likely approve.

Style wise, this album may well have been a literal combination of the band's last two efforts. I makes for a very refreshing album overall, since the songs are not quite as long in length, but are no doubt just as ''progressive'' as one would expect them to be. They're still harshly dark, maybe more so than previous albums, and a little less on the electronica side of things, which is a nice change from Free and the EP Re: Free.

Among the songs themselves there's a lot to look forward to. Things get off to a blistering start with The Escape Artist which rings of Sure You Will from Free but with a more rock oriented direction and less repetition in the chorus, making it the perfect start. Terminal is a slow and brooding tune that utilizes Moore's voice and odd choice of lyrics to create a terrifying atmosphere over the course of the song. False Start is another hard rocker in the vein of Free's title track but with more atmosphere.

But it's the second half of the album where things really start to get good. If the first half is where the majority of the comparisons to Free come in, then the second half definitely has to be the one closer in kin with the band's debut. Radiologue is another song that makes the most of the more atmospheric side of things, still somehow managing to channel the spirit of metal to make the song into a very formidable force. From there Be The Hero rocks out with some meaningful lyrics and is probably the last time on the album where things are simply really heavy. Microburst Alert is the album's instrumental track, much in the same fashion as The New Math from the debut album - there's garbled conversation underneath the tracks until you can clearly hear someone yell, 'whoa! Stop! Stop! Stop!', at which point the music takes a turn from standard instrumental to 'blast your brains out awesome' with chugging guitars and mean rhythms until things all slow back down again for the conclusion.

The two concluding tracks almost run together, but are just another one of the standout points of the album. Stolkholm as previously mentioned, is fronted my Mikael Akerfeldt, and to describe how it sounds... imagine OSI doing a cover of one of the slow songs from Ghost Reveries with Akerfeldt at the helm and you've pretty much nailed the sound. It's unique, and so long as you don't go into it expecting it to be a death metal epic then you're likely going to enjoy the hell out of it. Much against the grain of what OSI normally does, Blood does not conclude with a soft and melancholy song like Standby (Looks Like Rain) or Our Town. This one doesn't go out with a bang either, this one drags you into a dark vortex with the short but effective opus, Blood, which comes off as a 5-minute extension to Stockholm with Moore constructing some of the most evil soundscapes you've ever heard. This is likely the song that's going to take the longest to catch on with most listeners, but damn is it ever rewarding.

Overall this is a strong release from one of the best modern artists of this progressive era. A definite improvement over their sophomore album and something that's going to give most of the releases this year a run for their money in the ''best album of the year'' department. Dark, evil and yet somehow sickeningly sweet to listen to, OSI's Blood walks away with a strong 4 blood cells out of 5, highly recommended.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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