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OSI - Free CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.39 | 198 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars OSI - Free

O.S.I. really caught me off-guard with their self-titled debut album "Office of Strategic Influence". The songs were filled with strange synthesizer melodies, sounds and mainly effected drum patterns. Not being a Mike Portnoy fan, mainly because of his rather annoying habit to fill every gap of air with cymbals, I have to admit his rhythmic work with OSI is quite splendid.

Whereas the debut album was a lot in the same vein as Kevin Moore's Chroma Key music, here it is a lot more rock orientated. Somehow this does not give the music a totally different sound like one might suspect. But not everything on this second album has its roots in rock music. Some of the songs would have fitted perfectly on the debut album. One of these songs is called Go. This experimental song sounds a lot like Chroma Key, mainly because it's all experimentation with electronics. Don't expect something like Ulver's "Silence teaches you how to sin" suite, here it is one coherent piece of music.

Home was good is yet another slow piece of music. With its minimalist synthesizer patterns and warm waves of keyboards it really sounds unearthly and I cannot compare it to anything but OSI themselves or Chroma Key, the sound is just typical Kevin Moore-esque I think.

Being a fan of both rock/metal and electronic music, I can enjoy OSI's music to the max. Songs alike Bigger Wave really combine these two/three genres to the fullest. Did the debut album sound like Porcupine Tree in places (not only because of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson's involvement with the song "ShutDOWN")? Here these aspects are lesser present, instead they have a more or less sound of their own.

There's a major difference between the "Office of Strategic Influence" and "Free" albums: the song on the "Free" album sound a lot more catchy and a friend of mine even commented that the guitar sounded a bit like nu-metal (Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park!) to her ears and I can relate to her comment when listening to the song Better, but I think it is a combination of the guitar sound and the drum computer.

The song that sounds the most like Porcupine Tree has to be Simple Life. Composition wise it reminds me of Porcupine Tree around the "Signify" era, but the heavier guitar section and the gentle guitar solo sound like anything on either the "In Absentia" or their "Deadwing" album.

Quite often I've read comments about OSI's music that state Moore's 'monotonous' vocals, but I don't mind his sound personally. They work as an extra instrument and since the music already has a tendency to be rather hypnotic, this is only for the better.

The final space rock song on this follow-up album is the well-constructed Once. Not only being one of the longer songs on the album (6.37 min! Wow hehe, that's long for prog standards), it is also the song with the best intro, which sounds suspiciously a lot like Ozric Tentacles. But this is nothing to complain about. Gradually a beat is noticeable and Kevin Moore's vocals enter the frame. The song continuous in typical OSI style with loopbased drumming and guitarplaying. What I think is best about the song is that it would work as a great final track with its lengthy outro, but instead an acoustic song is included as another, and final, track.

This acoustic piece, Our Town, was the one track I disliked the first couple of times I listened to the album, mainly because it misses all the typical OSI elements (i.e. the atmospheres, the electronics etc.) instead we get something that sounds a lot like Pink Floyd as in "Wish you were here" (the song), with some folky (!) guitar included. Not the best way to round of such a great album, but it does show a side of OSI we haven't heard before.

This album will most definitely not disappoint those who are fond of the band's debut album and I think it could work as a great album to introduce fans of progressive metal to another sub genre of prog rock, space rock, as well.

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |


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