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OSI - Free CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.39 | 198 ratings

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The Progmatist
3 stars This is a sneaky album. I must admit that at the first couple spins, I wasn't quite catching on to the unique sound of OSI's new release. Probably because I was expecting something very similar to their first album, it wasn't until about the third listen that I really began to appreciate what this one is all about. I would say that where the band's self- titled CD gets by with individual guitar-driven rockers, FREE succeeds with a more coherent, electronically atmospheric feel. In fact, as someone who enjoyed their first album but didn't love it, I can say that I'm finding myself getting more and more into this one. Not only does the album flow seamlessly between harder and softer tracks, but the playing of the individual band members blends together to create almost transcendent sounds and moods.

One of the most impressive things about this album is that someone who hasn't done their homework may never know that Mike Portnoy is drumming here. This doesn't mean that the drum work is less than excellent, but only that it is so tastefully done that it gels with the rest of the music. This goes for the rest of the band as well. A surface listen may lead one to ask if Kevin Moore is actually doing anything here. You're not going to hear any of his Dream Theater-era melodies on this album. A more careful listen, though, reveals a melodic subtlety that is at times more rewarding than much of his work with that....other band. It is Moore's moody soundscapes that really provide the emotional feel to the music, and I think they also set the stage for and add power to the more driving tracks of the CD. Although the opener is probably one of the least moving songs here, the title-track that follows is one of the most catchy rockers of the album. "All Gone Now" is perhaps the best example of a song that is at once atmospheric and at the same time powerfully kicking. "Go" and "Bigger Wave" are excellent examples of the electronic moodiness that pervades the music.

When it's all said and done, OSI's FREE is for me the biggest surprise of the year, and it is a mature step forward from the first release. I would recommend it to almost any prog fan. It is the type of album that can be blasted on a car stereo or just as easily played on headphones at the beach.

*UPDATE 3/14/17* Over several years, I've come to appreciate the band's debut release much more than Free for its atmosphere and complexity. Still, though, Free holds up very well when I'm in the mood for electronic rockers. 3.5 stars.

The Progmatist | 3/5 |


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