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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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Tarquin Underspoon
4 stars Well, I first picked up this album because I am a fan of old school (and new school) Dream Theater. I also had one Fates Warning album: No Exit. I wan't familiar Jim Matheos's work other than that one album, and I hadn't really listened to Chroma Key. I was expecting a prog metal supergroup that would attack my brain with a gauntlet of technical, musical .

Thank goodness my expectations were not met.

OSI is a very unique "band", and this, to me, is their finest work.

Kevin Moore's presence is evident on the opening seconds of the album, with electronic sounds and sampled sound snippets. The opener, a flurry of notes and samples called "The New Math (What He Said)" serves as an excellent introduction to not only the band, but also the next song, "OSI", a sedate rocker with a very nice strut and a very cool groove. A nice way to open the album.

The next track, "When You're Ready", is a weak spot on the album to me. It is haunting and pulsating, with a nice acoustic guitar part, but something (or everything) about it seems to make me lose patience with it. Perhaps this is due to Kevin Moore's vocals. His "robotic" vocals are a main point of OSI detractors. His singing fits the music perfectly, but it is not everyone's cup of tea.

Next is an instrumental, "Horseshoes and B-52s". This song is centered around a strong bass riff. It has a very cool groove to it, and I tend to get lost in it. Very hypnotic, very cool.

The next track is entitled "Head". It is one of my favorites on the album, due to Matheos's incredible riff that serves as the basis for the song. A simple, drop D affair, this song has a groove to be reckoned with. Nice, mellow sections are coupled next to deliciously heavy sections without ever changing the feel of the song. This creates a unique dynamic with OSI that I really enjoy. There's always a surprise around the corner, but it stays in the context of a simple song. The chorus has an eastern feel to it. An all-around excellent song, to me.

Then comes "Hello, Helicopter!". This song took a long time to grow on me, but it eventually came to be one of my favorites. A nice, upbeat, acoustic song. This is one song in particular where Moore's vocals really fit. There is a melancholy feel to them that fits the song nearly perfectly. A nice, upbeat song on the album with some very cool drumming from Mr. Mike Portnoy.

And now we come to "shutDOWN". What a treat. Kevin Moore, Jim Matheos, Mike Portnoy....and now Steven Wilson. My personal favorite song on the album. It's a haunting song that really reminds me of Porcupine Tree's slower, longer songs, such as "Russia on Ice" (and no, not just because Mr. Wilson sings on it). The main riff is an evil-sounding, almost Black Sabbath sort of thing. And just when you think you've heard the song, it speeds up and gets more angry. Wilson's vocals fit perfectly, and in fact sound a bit like Moore's on this song. It is one of the darkest songs out there, and it is the highlight of the album to me.

"Dirt From A Holy Place" is a good instrumental with some nice, evil riffing and a haunting keyboard melody. Unlike the rest of the album, for whatever reason, I find this song repetitive. A few excellent riffs make up for this, however. It's a solid song, but no highlight.

Then comes "Memory Daydreams Lapses", which has yet to catch my attention, quite honestly. A Kevin Moore-driven song, I really find it boring, honestly. A low point of the album.

The album closer, "Standby (Looks Like Rain)" really is a nice note to end on. It's another acuostic guitar-driven song with a nice, almost melancholy melody from Kevin Moore. It seems to end out of nowhere, and leave you hanging, which I quite like.

In review, OSI is NOT the mix of Moore, Matheos and Portnoy that one might expect. It reminds me of Porcupine Tree, probably because of the dark tint the entire album has. This album is full of wonderful riffs and interesting keycraft. The drumming is also a strong point. There is nothing here to remind you that Mike Portnoy is sitting behind the kit, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. This is not a barrage of notes, but rather, it takes a few really good notes and arranges them in an interesting way. I highly suggest for the fan of Porcupine Tree, Tool, and perhaps even Pain of Salvation and Riverside.

4 stars for this unique side project.

Tarquin Underspoon | 4/5 |


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