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OSI - Free CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.39 | 198 ratings

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Luke. J
3 stars With ''Free'', O.S.I., a collaboration by Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) have released their second album. This project' sound is similar to Kevin Moore's Chroma Key project (which he started years after leaving Dream Theater) with the guitars of Fates Warning added. What at first might seem strange, unites here to the definition of ambient rock. While the previous effort was largely focused on this fusion, ''Free'' features programming and synthesizer effects very much in the vein of Chroma Key with Moore clearly dominating songwriting and adding vocals. With Mike Portnoy adding the drums and Joey Vera playing the bass on 5 tracks, we find leading musicians of today's progressive metal scene involved in this recording. Interestingly enough, this album does not sound metal at all.

Most of the tracks are based on their rhythm and monotonous sounds, keyboard layers, bass and Moore's vocals. Though all songs are composed with the same ingredients, they certainly have a sound of their own, for instance the impulsive first track, the pounding ''Better'', melancholic synthesizer sounds on ''Home was Good'' or the ballad-like track ''Our Town'', dominated by accoustic guitar and layered by keyboard sounds - this album features so many differend ways of expression, but concentrates on one topic on the whole, the solitude and pressure and desire of modern life. Admittedly the appreciation of this concept might be heavily dependent on one's view of the World and not everyone will be happy with the melancholy of the lyrics (which anyway is a contradiction in itself). It all is based on one mood, which is set to music in versatile ways, yet this mood and Moore's certainly monotonous vocals are the reason for the whole album to be rather monotonous. This monotony reduces the rating by one star to me, as it certainly does not add to the listening experience. Even though I enjoy the Chroma Key albums a lot, here he seems unable to realise this concept the same way as on e.g. ''Dead Air for Radios''. Nevertheless, this is a good album!

I still am not sure whether this album rather deserves three or four stars, as it is really good, but nothing special. I however would recommend ''Free'' to everyone interested in progressive rock music. What is missing here is that this seems like Chroma Key material with guitar added. If Matheos would have been involved more, ''Free'' would have had the potential to be a great four star album. I am not the one to complain a lot, Matheos should be. Sometimes his guitar playing is just dispensable in the context of the song. On the contrary, Vera and Portnoy do a great job, the latter surprisingly neglecting his usual.. let's called it additional beats. A 3.4, really, unfortunately only good three but nearly four stars. However, this is not an effort to be dismissed easily!

Luke. J | 3/5 |


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