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OSI - Office Of Strategic Influence CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.96 | 267 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Office of Strategic Influence is the name of a supergroup started by former DT keyboardist Kevin Moore and Fates warning's eternal leader Jim Matheos. With the addition of drummer Mike Portnoy (one of the most intense workaholics around in the current prog rock scene), the nucleus of OSI was installed and ready to work on the material for a debut album. Guest Sean Malone was a special privilege for this occasion. 2003 was the year of this debut, and I still remember how grateful I felt for these guys from the very first listen I gave to this album way back then. I still feel that way, so the reader should expect a positive review from my part. I'm aware that OSI has three albums already in their résumé, but I choose to look back at this particular album, which remains my personal OSI favorite. The musical offering of "Office Of Strategic Influence" is somehow connected to the refurbished type of prog-metal that Matheos had pursued in FW since the "Pleasant Shade" opus, but it more closely related to the industrial-infected semi-prog metal sound that Moore had created for his own Chroma Key project ? only this time, Matheos' guitar inputs (mostly riffs and harmonic developments) happen to fill the highlighted role in the band's sonic framework. The instrumental 'The New Math (What He Said)' opens up the album with splendorous vigor in a display of mathematical energy. The marriage of Moore's massively industrial keyboards and Portnoy's ever-dynamic drumming works solidly on the 11/8 tempo. Next, the segued namesake track (after both band and album) continues to unravel the same musical truth, even taking it to a more robust stage in a sort of Porcupine Tree- meets-Nine Inch Nails. This 7 minute time span of structured stamina works well at catching the listener's attention. Anyway, 'When You're Ready' brings in a new atmosphere: constrained and relaxed, heavily techno-driven, it still has room for some mysterious nuances along the way, with partially sinister keyboard ornaments that, oddly enough, merge well with the duet of acoustic guitar and stick. Picture the techno side of PT merged with late 90s Depeche Mode and you will get a big part of this track's picture. 'Horseshoes And B-52s' has nothing to do with the B-52's standard (luckily), but with the aforesaid NIN factor, perhaps even with Tool's syncopation-driven schemes. Its subtle management of the demanding time signatures shows how well this ensemble can handle the idea of fluidity in a progressive scheme where synths play such a relevant part. 'Head' follows in this NIN-influenced path. Compared to the preceding track, this one is denser and heavier, despite the fact that the tempo is slower ? it is powerful in its own terms. 'Hello Helicopter!' is related to the meditative side of post-"Signify" PT. 'ShutDOWN' is supposed to be the album's highlight due to its noticeable longer duration ? it also features special guest Steven Wilson on vocals. It is a magnificent piece, indeed: its languid intro succeeds at deceitfully introducing the listener to a musical development that bears genuine intensity and spooky moods (fuelled by cynical lyrics) in a cleverly constrained architecture. Halfway through, the intensity becomes more explicit (that is, the tempo turns a bit faster and the guitar input becomes more muscular at times), but still the calculated constraint operates solidly under this new direction. This track fulfills its promise to state a highlight for the album. 'Dirt From A Holy Place' and 'Memory Daydreams Lapses' bring 11 more minutes of what by now has become the OSI standard, that is, industrial prog-metal with heavy use of electronic and psychedelic textures: the former delivers a sense of melancholy wrapped in spacey nuances and augmented by slightly menacing undertones, the latter is focused on a recurrent grayish mood. The closer is not too long: 'Standby (Looks Like Rain)' is a ballad where the acoustic guitar is prominent. As a whole, the "OSI" album incarnates an inventive statement about how to generate fruitful innovations within and around the prog- metal standard. It is, in short, an excellent addition to any good prog rock collection.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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