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5 stars The ever present Mike Portnoy ( Dream Theater,Yellow matter custard,Transatlantic) on drums,Jim Matheos (Gordian knot)on Guitar and keyboards,Sean Malone (Gordian knot) on bass and stick,Kevin Moore ( ex-Dream Theater,Chroma key)Keyboards and vocal. Imagine all those brilliant guys in one band..then add one Steven wilson (one track). Thats exactly what you get when you purchase this wonderful cd !! OK..OK..easy now guys (and gals) this is not all powerthunderprog. This is a real gem in its own rigth. Its the beautiful soft side of Chroma key and the wonderful power of Dream theater plus the ingenius of Gordian knot...with a grain of Porcupine tree. Now can you fathom that?! OK ? Then get this...this wonderful outing is far more than that!! One moment its nerve shreddin power...the next its extreme beauty. Im lost for need to go get this...and listen for yourself. OSI (Office of Stratetic Influence) is one of the year prog releases!! If you are mildly into any of the above mentioned.....then GO GET IT !!! An hurry migth be sold out!!
Report this review (#17061)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars before I get this CD, I expected a dynamic journey of progmet music like Dream Theater or even LTE. and I was wrong. OSI's style is darker than any expectation. it' s more psychedelic. but the energy between Kevin Moore, Mike Portnoy, Sean Malone and Jim Matheos is still the finest. all of the compositions are good. there's only one thing I can't accept is the vocal of Kevin Moore. I don't like how he sings (he also sings in his Chroma Key's albums, but, well, CK is his own project). come on, he can give that part to many great vocalists, such as James LaBrie (if he sings in this album, maybe it's not going to be this dark - who knows). I don't know, it's probably a matter of ego.
Report this review (#17063)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a solid album, every song on here has something different to offer. The songs range from heavy to very light but there is something in common about them all; they flow. The time length doesn't make a difference toward this either. 'The New Math' opens to expose itself as a heavy instumental which leads right into 'OSI'. The melodies are very nice and interesting too. Each one flowing like water through your fingers. I would have given it 4 1/2 stars if I could have. I think it's just a little bit away from a masterpiece but it is still a great cd that any fan of prog should be happy to own.
Report this review (#17064)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great Album! One of the most beautiful Prog-Metal Album that I've ever bought. Absolutly original and completly different to the Dream Theater sound! The album as a solid link to the 60s sound and at the same time is something new and realy unique. You have to hurry migth be sold out!!
Report this review (#17065)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another progressive rock super group has formed, OSI. "Office Of Strategic Influence" sounds like a combination of PORCUPINE TREE and The FLOWER KINGS. Steven Wilson of PT actually is the guest singer on the track "ShutDOWN" (notice the emphasis on the word "down"), which makes my observation valid and obvious to the listener familiar with the bands I have mentioned.

This is everything one would expect from this group of established prog-rockers, well, almost. The sounds consist of a mixture of hard driving prog-metal and ethereal PINK FLOYD influenced tracks. The combination will certainly be both pleasing and enjoyable for a large cross section of progressive rock listeners.

"ShutDOWN" is a prolific track figuratively and musically. The words carry a very strong message to the listener, such as: "Shut down your body, shut down your skin, shutdown your kisses, shutdown within." These words continually come at you throughout the song, advising you to shutdown all of your senses or pay the consequences. It sounds as if a despot is speaking to you, which I find interesting considering world events currently. The other track that caught my ear and challenged my senses was "Standby (Looks Like Rain)," which is an exceptional piece of music, is simply mesmerizing. It has an atmospheric texture that sucked me in and then owned me after only a few minutes into the track.

At the end of the disc, there is a bonus video available for viewing as well. Shot in black and white, it is confusing and disturbing, and I am not sure what it all meant. It reminded me of a video that was on the PORCUPINE TREE album @In [email protected] To be honest, there were too many comparisons to PT on this album; just the same, I loved it. Former DREAM THEATER keyboard player Kevin Moore provides the vocal treatments, which I found disappointing with the overuse of electronics and the camouflaging of his voice. Then at times he was allowed to bring forth his true essence, albeit briefly, hence I was reminded of Sweden's FLOWER KINGS. There were consistencies that I did not like and inconsistencies that I did, it sounds weird but that was my own personal perception of the album. I hope next time out, if there actually is a next time, Moore's vocals stand alone to resonate naturally around the music and their sound originates by their own design without any outside influences, like Steve Wilson, who seemed to set the tone for the entire recording. There are clips from TV and radio broadcasts used in the songs as well, mostly unintelligible, except for a Dan Rather's snippet, which provided yet another distraction from the music.

With the talent available on this recording, on a scale of 1 to 10 it could have easily been a 10. I think it was a seven with room for improvement and some changes. Although I really did enjoy it, I felt it could have been better. Regardless of my criticisms, I am sure hard-core prog-heads will get off on this album.

Report this review (#17066)
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars With time, one will realize extraordinary quality of this album, innovator, very stylized and who releases a very great fascination. One of the unclassable and major albums of these last years. A must.
Report this review (#17068)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Only Sparse Inspiration

Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) is a side project from the Dream Theater stable.

The sound and feel is not generally as heavy as DT, many of the tracks sounding more like Porcupine Tree. Although there appears to be a lot of "space" for the ambient sounds which prevail on the album, most of the tracks are relatively short.

The exception is the long "ShutDOWN", (yes it is written like that) which is co-written by Steve Wilson of said Porcupine Tree, who also plays on this track only. If this song had appeared on "Stupid Dream" it would have fitted right in.

Overall, while the music is pleasant, it is devoid of any real inspiration, particularly in the song writing department. With a bit more development, some of the tracks could have become more appealing, but as they stand there is a tendency towards dullness.

An enjoyable album, but far from essential.

Report this review (#41562)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The missing link between mainstream and underground.

I'm surprised to see how this record has been SUCH a letdown for many reviewers...Well boo-hoo if you expected another Dream Theater spin-off.

Thanks heavens it's not. OSI is basically a good amount of FM nu-metal but with more maturity. Think of Linkin Park but with a soft voice and lots of electronical sounds. Aaah, combinations like those are not well-known and besides them, Riverside also used that recipe of FM and nu- metal.

Do not expect anything like DT, the guys are restraining themselves. Portnoy is drumming like the average joe from any rock band. Kevin Moore is more creating a high-tech, gadget sounding environnement than prancing on the keys like the old days. Barely no solos, the whole thing rests on power chords and choppy riffs.

To me this album is the missing link between the (huge) nu-rock scene and the progressive leagues. If you liked In Absentia from Porcupine Tree, this will please you automatically. Why the kidz are feeding on Simple Plan or Blink 182? Youngers could easily dig in this, this is almost their alley !!!

Sporting a cool spy package, the cover tells it all: it could easily provide a soundtrack for espionnage movies like Mission Impossible or Bourne Identity.

Report this review (#54171)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first time heard this album, I knew that I had something fresh, new, stylish and futuresque from my headphones. I was listening to brilliant masterpiece. Why I felt this? Simply because this is how I imagined progressive album of the future. Looking at technical side of this album, it is excelent, has no weak moments, simply liquid from first seconds until the end, lyrically very good, emotive, atmospheric. Kevin Moore is great musician, he showed it now! I felt his work in the music the most. All textures here I find very interesting and refreshfull. Some might talk about too simple guitar here, about metal "riffs" that loudly fill the album. But this kind of critics would be just little bit stupid, this is in style called prog metal, this is not about symphonic music. Anyway Jim Matheos is excellent guitarist, he has got solid sound which is very powerfull. Track Hello, Helicopter is simply my favourite track here. Kevin has wonderfull voice, and it is colored by great acoustic guitar, and later develops in what I feel is new style. The genious textures and keyboard parts remind me of King Crimson, but only because of its opened way to new musical horizons. Steven Wilson sings fantasy voice in ShutDown track. He gives his best in it. Matheos plays perfectly... Memory Daydream Lapses is excelent psychedelic track which reminds me on Dream Theater's Space Dye West song, which was also written by Moore.Track is weird at the end, and one of the best songs I heard recently. And this track goes after great instrumental piece, Dirt from A Holy Place, the most complex song on album. If you are hardcore prog fan of the bands from seventies, you might not be caught by this work. But, prog is about crashing all borders in music, right? If somebody makes new style, and it sounds advanced, than it is naturally to support it.
Report this review (#77766)
Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of my greatest finds in a long time. If it sounds like any other band, it simply sounds like a less keyboard-based Chroma Key with more traditional band instrumentation. Kevin Moore provides the vocals like in Chroma Key, but they are more subdued and less exciting to be quite honest. The musical content more than makes up for that though.

The opening track, "The New Math" is basically what "Space-Dye Vest" would be if Kevin Moore gave the rest of Dream Theater a hand in writing it; spoken dialogue by Dan Rather covered by quick moving rhythms in strange time signatures. It is an instumental track in the sense that Moore does no singing but there are plenty of words within it. This is a great opener for the album, because it is energetic and fast-paced even though the rest of the album is not like that at all. It is basically one last "hurrah" of Kevin Moore being with Dream Theater in my opinion. 10/10

"The New Math" instantly shifts into the title track, "OSI" The song is a sort of extension of "The New Math" but with lyrics and some "unplugged" sections. This track is of the same calibur as the first. It features some electronic patches that of course are the hand of Kevin Moore. The song also features a 7/4 time signature section that shows off a nice guitar riff (very "The New Math" influenced). Basically the first two tracks should be linked in my opinion, but I can understand why they were seperated. 9/10

The third track, "When You're Ready" is the first real entrance into the album's style. This track is a vocal-based work with light clean guitar in the background. Moore does little other than vocals, but throws in some patches here and there to make things exciting. The bass takes a very background role but you can hear it make its mark at times. The drums aren't what you would call a typical ballad style, featuring noticable snare and bass drums. Overall it is a simple song with catchy vocal and guitar lines. 9/10

"Horseshoes and B-52's" is another instrumental track in the same vein as "The New Math." Sort of repetitive but features some nice synth work and patches to keep things exciting. 8/10

The album transitions back into lyrical songs after "Horseshoes and B-52's", with "Head" being the next track in line. The song has sort of an Arabian/Middle Eastern feel thanks to the synth sounds which is pretty cool. There is a fairly lengthy instrumentation part from the middle to the end which features somewhat repeating phrases but varies enough to stay interesting. The song is pretty good but would be better if it were like a minute shorter or so. 8/10

"Hello, Helicopter!" is probably my favorite song of the entire album. It is a nice cool, laid-back, melodic work that has a very moody feel. The main acoustic theme is quite catchy and when the bass and bass drum are added in during one of the later times it is played it sounds really good. The vocals here are pretty clean which is pretty uncommon on this album. There are some distortion parts but it's a very clean sounding song vocally. The keyboard work is nice but sparse. When it does come in though it makes its mark and really fits well with the song. 10/10

"shutDOWN" is the longest song on the album, and it also features guest vocal by Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Why he sings on this track I don't really know because in my opinion he sounds similar to Moore so I don't know what the objective was here. I guess his range is a bit higher than Moore's but whatever. The first half of the song is pretty dull in my opinion although some others seem to like it so it must not be that bad. The song gets more uptempo in the middle and becomes exciting. It seems like the song gradually gets better over time. Even the vocals get better as the song goes on. Once it gets going this is a very good song but the beginning is a bit too drawn out for my tastes. 8/10

"Dirt from a Holy Place" is another cool-down track featuring prominent keyboard work for really the first time on the album. The bass and drums make an entrance midway through followed by the guitar but the song is driven by the keys. This song is probably my second favorite because I really like the soft keyboard-driven style and it stays interesting the entire time which is all you can ask of an instrumental. 10/10

"Memory Daydreams Lapses" quiets down from what "Dirt From a Holy Place" built into. The vocals are distorted and quiet so they are hard to understand which isn't good but the music is interesting and in the same vein as the other soft works of the album. Much like "Hello, Helicopter!" it is a good chill song with some moody music to set a nice tone. 8/10

The album closes with "Standby (Looks Like Rain)" which is another soft piece. Moore features clean vocals that fit the songs style well (as usual). The guitar work makes me think of green fields with rolling hills even though the song talks abiout rain. It's a good but short-lived piece but it ends sort of abruptly in my opinion. Not the best closer but a good song. 8/10

Overall this is a VERY good album that will be enjoyed by both metalists as well as more softer-inclined listeners. A must-have for fans of Chroma Key but also for everyone else.

Report this review (#81024)
Posted Monday, June 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Disc project that apparently already approaches its successor, headed by Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore with their friend Micke Portnoy, comprises of OSI, without a doubt some tuene a sound strongly influenced by Kevin that without you doubt some volume the reins of this project, according to the following one will be of Matheos, this very well which they have an idea, since therefore brilliant one would listen to a disc of Portnoy in serious OSI III that since I have listened Portnoy with TransAtlantic, Neal Morse and OSI, but never like a good serious absolute leader that clear one if it were reality since at this moment I am digressing. The OSI disc in addition has two guests are Are Malone de Guardian Know and Steven Wilson de Porpuse Tree, in truth is a very good disc, with sounds that regularly could not be considered like metal but own of the progressive one, music can be powerful and with a sound and very hard accelerated, at the moment to happen to the traveled transporter and, clear this that one of its influences is Pink Floyd, track more impressive to my taste is the 8 Dirt From To Holy Place, very impressive sounds very well highly recommendable.
Report this review (#88644)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars First CD, and most triumphant start my friends! If your at all a friend to the genious of Arjen A. Lucassen, then you should give this a listen (Simular style of sythensiser power). If your not, well, then give it a listen anyways. If your at all assotiated with the great Dream Theater, Chroma Key, or Fates Warning, once again love the album! This sci-fi (as I'd say) techno-metal of an album is, to say bluntly, incredible. ShutDOWN is probably one of my all time favorite songs! This album is the start to a side project destined to go far! Yes my friends, a great album with plenty of emotions and rhythms. It's got the power and the grandjure. Taking on the psychedelic/technology side with quiet vocals, this album demonstrates pure instrumental genious, much less musical enjoyment! Now my friends! 5/5 for a side project gone all to well! It's an incredible album and surely is a mixture of musical p.h.d philosiphers!
Report this review (#93260)
Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Kevin Moore forms another new band, and it's perhaps just as good as what it's spun off of.

Yes, that ex-Dream Theater keyboardest is back, and this time without his usual Chroma Key guise. Teaming up with ex-bandmate Mike Portnoy (still of Dream Theater) and featuring apperances by the likes of Steven Wilson, this is an album that has great potential, and believe me, it delivers. With some somewhat Tool-esque soundscapes and some elements of the Kevin Moore DT that have been out of action for quite some time, this is an album that shouldn't be missed by prog fans.

Home to three instumentals, a couple of longer tracks and some downright short-form-prog this album is a highpoint from start to finish. From the opening keyboard on THE NEW MATH to the ending vocals on STANDBY the album flaunts some great vocals, instumentation, and all around structure, especially since the shorter songs don't feel short and all seem to meld together (in a good way) to create a very prog feeling cd, you often get the feeling that if Pink Floyd were formed in the early new milennium, they'd have sounded like this.

Some noteable highpoints on the album include the heavy title track, OSI, the reflectively evil instumentals HORSESHOES AND B52s, and DIRT FROM A HOLY PLACE, and of course, the Steve Wilson voiced SHUTdown. Each one of these tracks offers a very new sound, evolving the album as it goes... and each just rocks.

At the end, this is a great album from a great band that I hope to see good things from in the future. 4.5 stars, excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#135516)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Very enjoyable artistic metal overflowing with spacey effects and style, showing the stamp of all involved on dynamic songs giving them room to experiment and play.

Excellent soundscapes shimmer side-by-side with outstanding heavy riffing throughout, with Moore's keyboard and production stealing the show. His subtle playing oozes class and a general likeability which I have observed listeners coming from many different genres enjoy, and this release only bolsters his track record of excellence. Moore's vocals are reminiscent of his Chroma Key projects-- gentle deliveries tweaked through various effects-- and fit the mood well. Maethos performs here more strongly than anything I've ever heard him do with Fate's Warning, playing some slick melodies on both electric and acoustic. Portnoy is more restrained than usual, his kit augmented by some computerized effects, while Malone fills out the bottom nicely. Steven Wilson's contribution on "shutDOWN" is a nice surprise for one of the album's standout songs.

Lots of great stuff to be found for (not just) fans of heavy music and/or the musician's involved-- highly recommended!

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#141425)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a great album from former Dream Theater keyboarder Kevin Moore ( Now Chroma Key), Jim Matheos from Fates Warning, Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater and Sean Malone from Cynic/ Gordian Knot.

The music is a mix of mostly Chroma Key and newer Fates Warning. If you like the guitar sound and riffs on Fates Warning´s Disconnected mixed with the more ambient mood of Chroma Key you just gotta love OSI´s debut album Office of Strategic Influence. Kevin Moore sings on most of the songs with his mellow and nice vocals. Some say his vocals are indifferent and leaves them cold, but I really like them and even though they can seem emotionless, I think they suit the music well. Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree guests on the song ShutDOWN with his good vocals.

Needless to say that the musicians are outstanding. The production is very good. The songs are very well composed and very emotional even though there are some really heavy parts too. Songs like The New Math (What He Said) and OSI are pretty heavy songs but I think these two songs which are the first songs on the album are the most heavy songs here, so listen a little further if this puts you off.

I have just rated the limited edition version of this album, and I would strongly recommend that you get that one instead of this one if you have the chance. 28 minutes of extra music is worth mentioning.

Even though this is the regular version without the bonus tracks this is still an excellent album that deserves 4 stars.

Report this review (#160787)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Enjoyable Techno-Trippy Conspiracy Theory Music

My closest prog-head friend, a bass player who has introduced me to more prog than anyone else, loves Kevin Moore. We saw him together on the last Dream Theater tour he performed on (Awake), and like many I think the band lost some of their musicality when they switched to hotter and faster chops-hounds. My friend has virtually everything Moore has recorded, whether under his own name, the Chroma Key moniker, or this collaboration with Jim Matheos of Fates Warning, ominously named OSI (Office of Strategic Influence.)

Moore recruited all-stars Sean Malone of Cynic, former band-mate Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, and even the then-ubiquitous Steven Wilson for vocals and songwriting tweaks on one track. But this album / project lies somewhere between Moore solo album and Moore / Matheos collaboration, with strong guest performances, and is credited that way. As such, Moore's textured but limited vocals are featured along with his dark, sometimes paranoid or depressive lyrics, but also his very good industrial meets ambient keyboard work. Matheos' guitar adds another layer of heaviness and finally Moore has a total sound that matches his inner turmoil.

That overall sound I would rate as good to very good, well performed, somewhat progressive, and pleasant to listen to. Moore does have a fair melodic sense but his limited vocal range doesn't allow him to fully exploit it. Songs like "When You're Ready" and "Head" feature strong melodic themes to center them, but by the end of the album, the vocals seems a little spent in terms of creativity. For instance, the instrumentally interesting "Hello Helicopter" would have greatly benefited from stronger vocals. Throughout, there is a sense of repetition and monotone that loses my interest after awhile, although the keys do continue to explore new territory from start to finish.

Portnoy's playing here is very well done, remarkably restrained, despite a few spots where he gets to inject a little of his trademark complexity. Malone also does a great job, even getting a few solo spots that are well placed. Wilson's contribution on "SHUTdown" is fairly stock for him, which is good for the album, but nothing new for PT fans. My biggest gripe, however, is that I was a bit disappointed in Matheos' contribution. His guitar parts are, to me, too restrained, too simple. We need more of him to balance out Moore. What we get is good, but I want more. We get a glimpse of what could have been on the Matheos-penned "Dirt from a Holy Place," but that is a relatively basic instrumental.

Overall, I'm glad to have this album in my library. Fans of Moore should have this album, as it's probably his best since leaving DT. Good but non-essential is an appropriate descriptor.

Report this review (#207811)
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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.
Report this review (#263210)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars OSI is a project consisting of a couple of musicians from bands that stand very far from what I want to hear in progressive metal. And yet, bringing them together for this album creates pure progressive metal bliss. Many thanks to singer/keyboard wizard Kevin Moore I'd say. Jim Matheos and Mike Portnoy are great musicians and they both shine on this album, but Kevin Moore understands the art of crafting meaningful songs out of the available talent.

Moore's vocal skills tend to divide options though. He's as far from the expected metal cliché vocalist as you can possibly get, and his seemingly detached and subdued delivery will disappoint many metalheads. For me it works just fine. It's one of the aspects that make this project stand out from the rest of the progressive metal scene.

Another element is his keyboard playing of course. Again it is very different from the symphonic keyboard bombast you get in the usual prog metal deal. Moore's interests are rather in techno, dub and sampling, meaning the electronics here brings the sound close to NIN. Another factor that might frighten away metal fans.

The songwriting is great throughout but the highlight comes from Steve Wilson's contribution. He's is partially credited for the songwriting on ShutDOWN but I guess his mere presence already suffices to bring out the best in every musician that comes within reach of his halo. The man is genius. Other highlights are the instrumental Dirt From A Holy Place and the techno space rock of Memory Daydream Lapses.

To sum it up, OSI is the perfect metal album for non-metal fans. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#281767)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars After the dream is over...

The self-titled debut from all-star prog metal supergroup OSI.

The Good: The New Math and ShutDOWN.

The Bad: I have always been a huge fan of Kevin Moore and whilst he may not be the most technically gifted of the past and present Dream Theater keyboardists, his work on Images and Words is my standout favourite. After quitting the band he was invited to provide keyboard parts for this project which was initially a collaboration between Jim Matheos of Fates Warning, and ex-bandmate, Mike Portnoy. However, he soon took a commanding role within the group and tried to further his new, less melodic, more atmospheric, musical direction which was hinted at on the Awake finale, Space Dye Vest.

The overall aim was to create a unique fusion of metal and electronic music, two genres which are categorically opposed. Whilst on paper this sounds like a new and exciting idea, in reality it just plays like a heavily diluted Porcupine Tree, and the resulting soundscapes conjure up all the emotion of a bus journey through some light drizzle.

The Verdict: I'm all for artists expanding their musical horizons but for me this misses the mark by a long way.

Report this review (#462634)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Listening to OSI's debut album, I could understand why the band were so keen to snag Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree as their vocalist. (He declined, offering only a guest appearance on the epic shutDOWN.) Essentially, this is Dream Theater and Chroma Key founder Kevin Moore and Fates Warning guitarist John Matheos' take on the psychedelic prog-metal soundscapes of In Absentia, only with a bit more of a groove and more overt political satire in the audio samples. It's a good effort, but it feels a bit more calculated and by-the-numbers than the Porcupine Tree works it's inspired by and doesn't quite scratch the itch for me.
Report this review (#658737)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have mentioned candidly in my review of Samla Mammas Manna's MALTID album that masterpiece albums usually are a good surprise and totally blow me away from the first listen to where I'm at currently. Well, the debut of O.S.I. did just that, and is it beautiful.

The project might be most familiar among Dream Theater fans as it reunites original keyboardist Kevin Moore with then-drummer Mike Portnoy. Despite there being some semi-technical moments, O.S.I. refrains from the technical pitfalls that can characterize some of DT's more bombastic moments. The technical side of metal opts for a more functional, odd timed side of things a la Fates Warning. Perfect segue, FW mastermind Jim Matheos is the other main musician here. We have as an end result, prog metal musicianship that lets the audience know its complex without getting too preachy about it. Everything falls into place as needed with nothing overdone in any solo department.

And since Matheos is part of the project, the metal has that wonderful crunch that is very apt for head banging, but it's thrown in an odd time signature (for example, the title track is mostly in 7/4) to avoid any sense of normal. The riffs tend to be like glue in that they get stuck in your head, particularly ''O.S.I'', ''Head'' and ''shutDOWN''. The keyboard work is also glorious, adding techno kinds of atmospheres without overbearing or drowning out anything. The little boost the keyboards give to ''The New Math'' just bolster the track's prowress.

But not all albums can function on a constantly fast-paced speed, so there are a few acoustic moments like ''When You're Ready'' and ''Hello, Helicopter'' (not truly acoustic since the keyboards aren't) to act as breathers so that the listener can relax from the frenzy that comes before. We even get a very Steven Wilson influenced track (he wrote and sang on it) in ''shutDOWN'' that qualifies as the epic of the album that evolves from Floydian sludge metal to a climactic mating of Fates Warning and Porcupine Tree. The project even treats us into a more electronic, spacey denouement in ''Memory Daydream Relapses''.

One criticism of this album that I can understand is that the vocals aren't very strong. Barring Steven Wilson on the epic, Kevin Moore is the singer, and he tends to sing in a dry, laconic tone nearing robotic. I actually have come to terms with Moore's voice as it provides a balance from the surrounding heaviness. The project also provides three well thought out instrumentals (''The New Math'', ''B-52s and Horseshoes'', ''Dirt From a Holy Place'') and in general, keeps the vocal moments to sparing offering the music a lot of leg room.

O.S.I.'s debut is a very well-constructed, muscular machine. If you don't mind the vocals or some of the political snippets, this is a proud example of how excellent prog metal can be.

Report this review (#948220)
Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now I love Dream Theater! And I love Fates Warning! And I kinda like Chroma Key too! So when Mike Portnoy, Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore banded together to form OSI and release their debut album 'Office of Strategic Influence', I knew it was an album I had to have!

OSI blends all the elements of each individuals respective bands perfectly. Jim Matheos' unique guitar riffs are as impressive as always, especially when backed by the insane drum skills of Mike Portnoy. And Kevin Moore's eerie keyboards add so much depth and ambience to the album, and whilst his vocals do, at times, seem to drone on, they do suit the music very well. It's a very experimental, at times electronic-sounding take on progressive metal, and it works well!

Highlights include 'The New Math (What He Said)', 'When You're Ready', 'Hello, Helicopter' and the haunting 'Shutdown'. It's evident in the songwriting that these guys all know each other well and have a great chemistry when it comes to working together.

But that's not all! If you own the special edition version which comes with a bonus disc, you're in for a treat! While bonus discs are usually nothing more than excuses to release various different versions of an album at higher prices, this one really is worth the price. 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' and 'New Mama' are both nice little ambient pieces, but the real gem is 'The Thing that Never Was', a 17-minute instrumental track that comprises of all the best parts of the album. Doesn't sound like much, but it's actually a pretty decent little extra.

Overall this is a great album for fans who like their progressive metal to be a little more experimental, and if you're a fan of any of the individual members or their respective bands, you will not be disappointed.

Report this review (#1779750)
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Taking their name from the abbreviated form of the briefly engaged US government agency named OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE (which serves as the title of this debut album), this supergroup was the brainchild of Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos who collaborated with Kevin Moore, keyboardist and vocalist for the art rock band Chroma Key. Adding to the well known musicians on board came Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy to fill the percussionist spot and Sean Malone of Cynic to play the bass. Originally the band pursued Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree to be the vocalist but he declined leaving them to fend for themselves and adopt many of his influences without him. Although intended to be a one-off project and studio band only, OSI continued recording new albums after their debut was met with positive reviews which led the band to continue the project and release future albums.

While touted as a progressive metal band, the truth is that there is little of Dream Theater or Fate Warning influence to be found on this one. The focus of hero worship on this one is primarily limited to the likes of Porcupine Tree's more metal ventures as heard on 'In Absentia' or 'Deadwing' except Kevin Moore's vocal ability sounds more like Eric Woolfson of The Alan Parsons Project fame. Despite his refusal as lead vocalist Wilson did however contribute to the outstanding track 'ShudDOWN' which is the best Porcupine Tree track not on a PT album. Overall the music on OSI's debut is tantamount to the heavier riffing style of PT with songwriting compositions to match all painted with the art rock electronica heard on Moore's Chroma Key project.

The fact is OSI sounds so much like Porcupine Tree that i had to scan my liner notes upon first listen to find out if this was some clandestine Steven Wilson project but other than the guest spot on one track it is clearly not. I feel the band borrowed a little too heavily from the Porcupine Tree sound and granted Steven Wilson's sound was more than a worthy supply of inspiration, OSI tries a little too hard to fully replicate it leaving them with very little original sound of their own. The fact that a Fates Warning and Dream Theater combo effect is totally absent is rather disappointing. The project could've been a much better one if they had. While i can't say i don't enjoy listening to this one as the tracks are catchy, sombre and excellently produced, the combo effect of the PT influences reigning supreme with the lackluster vocal talents of Moore leaves me slightly cold on this one. For those who care less about blatant ripoffs of other's signature sounds, you might like this more than i do.

Report this review (#1781838)
Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars This group consists of Fates Warning members and special guests that put out a really good debut recording which only gets better with repeated listening sessions. I like the satirical approach they take to government and current state of affairs, as they comment on the media and the masses. OSI has released some very strong albums over the years but I find this one to be their strongest and best. They strive to make music that makes you think, which like Rush is the hallmark of great progressive rock. All the OSI catalogue is worth checking out but I would definitely start with this one.
Report this review (#1885114)
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

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