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OSI - Blood CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.71 | 213 ratings

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Una Laguna
4 stars If you liked either of the last two OSI albums, you'll probably like this. This album is not a revolution in progressive music, but more of a refinement of the previous albums, combining the raw energy of Office of Strategic Influence with the electronic Chroma Key-esque stylings of Free. The main difference is in the drumming: this album features Gavin Harrison instead of Mike Portnoy. Consequently, the drumming sounds very similar to that found on more recent Porcupine Tree albums.

Most of the album can be divided into two camps: the heavier, more metal tracks (likely more the work of Mattheos) and the more mellow, ambient tracks (Moore's contributions likely being more prominent here). There is a roughly 50/50 split between the time on the album dedicated to these tracks.

Of the heavier tracks, The Escape Artist is probably the strongest. A more straightforward song with a great riff and brilliant chorus make this an excellent starting track. False Start is a more experimental track: good but without the polish which The Escape Artist has. Radiologue is another excellent track, combining energy with very atmospheric keyboards and some of Moore's more emotional singing. Be the Hero has a mellow, ambient opening before going into a heavy riff similar to those seen on earlier tracks. This track seems less inspired than other heavier tracks, with a rather forced chorus. Microburst Alert is a very experimental instrumental track; its experimental nature makes it something of a love-hate track.

The more mellow tracks have more in common with Chroma Key than OSI (aside from the absence of pianos on the album). These tracks are all very atmospheric and not as varied as the heavier tracks: the strongest are probably Terminal, Stockholm and Blood, though none are an unpleasant listen.

Perhaps the only issue which seriously harms the album's quality is Kevin Moore's singing, which at best is an acquired taste. In Chroma Key his bland, monotonic voice is suited to the music and complements it. However, his voice sounds out-of-place on a progressive metal album, particularly the heavier tracks. The aforementioned chorus in Be The Hero stands out as being an example of where his singing weakens the music. Mikael Åkerfeldt's vocals on Stockholm provide a breath of fresh air (and fortunately, he doesn't use death growls).

Is the special edition worth buying for the bonus CD? No Celebrations is another strong heavy track, with another strong guest vocalist in Tim Bowness. This track is very good, definitely better than some of the tracks on the main CD (We Come Undone and Be The Hero spring to mind). Christian Brothers is a cover of a song I've never heard of - it sounds good, but not great, and is missing the atmosphere created by the keyboards/synths on the rest of the album. Terminal (Endless) is an extended version of Terminal (expanded from 6:29 to 10:21). Some of the ambient sections are lengthened, but these additions aren't life-changing. I would advise the special edition only for the OSI enthusiast.

It took a few listens, but I think this is probably the finest OSI album released so far, combining the strong points of both the first albums. If you liked either of the previous albums, this is recommended to you. For anyone interested in this band, this is the place to start.

Una Laguna | 4/5 |


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