Review : OSI - Blood
SputnikmusicHow often do so-called “super groups” live up to the hype or even equal the sum of their parts? The reality is that it doesn’t happen very often. With that in mind, it wasn’t a surprise when Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex-Dream Theater), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Sean Malone (Cynic, Gordian Knot) couldn’t live up to the hype surrounding OSI’s debut album. The band’s second album, Free, managed to come a bit closer to meeting fan expectations, but it still wasn’t the dream-album that people envisioned. It was definitely an excellent album, featuring some of the best Jim Matheos riffs this side of 1990 and was as rockin’ as it was inventive and progressive – but it still wasn’t super-group material. Unfortunately, Blood doesn’t even manage to reach the same levels as the previous two releases.
Overall, the performances on Blood just don’t seem to have the same energy or level of innovation. The most prominent reason for this is that the creative effects and electronic sounds are almost entirely missing. In their place typical sounds found on any stock keyboard program, and instead of lush effects we’re offered generic blips and bleeps. Kevin’s only saving grace is found in his level of musicianship; it allows him to deliver a multitude of great melodies despite their generic tones. As it turns out, whatever caused Kevin Moore’s apathetic approach has also found it’s way into Jim Matheos’ performance as well.
While playing with OSI, Jim Matheos has always skirted the line between mainstream and progressive metal, providing the best of both worlds, but on Blood he has opted to push things more towards mainstream metal. Anyone that has heard Jim’s early work with Fates Warning knows that he can play some metal, but he doesn’t even seem to be trying here. Instead of applying his own innovative style to the riffs, he is content to emulate the popular sounds. On “False Start” he becomes the millionth guitarist to blatantly copy Meshuggah’s rhythmic riffs, and “Be the Hero” reeks of Porcupine Tree. As with Kevin Moore, Jim’s only saving grace is that his level of musicianship is such that he is able to do integrate the occasional original idea into his otherwise copy-and-paste method of playing.
As should be expected, the songs that eschew the generic metal approach are the one’s that end up standing out the most. These songs allow enough space to develop the atmosphere that previous OSI albums are known for, and they utilize more then stock riffs and effects. Songs such as “We Come Undone” and “Radiologue” exemplify the kind of quality this band is capable of when they make an effort. They both employ a thick layer of unique synth melodies and rhythmic electronic percussion as their base and allow Kevin’s vocals and Jim’s guitar to act as accentuation. Unfortunately, the song co-written by Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) isn’t one of those exceptional songs. “Stockholm” wastes Mikael’s vocal talents by relegating his role to short bursts of lyrics that never allow him to establish himself. The music also reverts back to the stock sounds that plague much of this album, turning a song that could have been a huge crowd-pleaser into a disappointment....full text
MetalstormThe name OSI refers to the "Office of Strategic Influences", an organization created by US government to do some kind of US propaganda after 9/11 (for your information, it was quickly stopped for obvious reasons...). But this is also the name of a superband composed by Kevin Moore of Chroma Key and Jim Matheos of Fates Warning. "Blood" is their new album, their 3rd one actually, and if the guys worked with Portnoy or Steven Wilson in the past, this is now the time to do something else with Gavin Harrison on the drums (Porcupine Tree) and even Akerfelt as a guest vocalist on the song "Stockholm". Ho yes, I'm already hearing the ones who want to know how the hell sounds this release, well let's go then and if you like Porcupine Tree you shouldn't be disappointed!
"Blood" is dark and yes, of course, Progressive. But even if the band worked with Mike Portnoy in the past, they're now something which can be compared with his band Dream Theater. On the other hand you'll easily hear the influences of the main band of one of their ex guest members, Steven Wilson because OSI clearly sounds like Porcupine Tree. We have dark atmosphere, the same kind of ambiances, the electronic influences etc… I won't say that it's a clone because it's not the case but "Blood" clearly plays in the same category than the last Porcupine Tree and if you like them you should like this release. Yet I think that "Blood" is probably more electronic than everything ever done by Porcupine Tree. There are electronic industrial sounds on all the songs and it's really cool actually because it gives some interesting mechanical sides to the music. Don't believe that this release is Industrial too but this is not classic Progressive Metal music and it's cool to listen to this album. Sure it's not really original nowadays because it's trendy to do something like that but it's high level music and the songs are really good so why not?...full text
Ultimate-guitarSound: For those who don't know, this is the solo project of ex Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore... Progressive, spacey ambient..cant really categorise, but if you like Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Massive Attack, Dream Theater circa Awake etc then you should like this. This album sees Gavin Harrison in session as well as a track from Mike Akerfeldt. Harrison's drumming blends very well with the ambient synth and heavy guitar driven sounds. Very clean production one of the best I've ever heard. Great guitar and keys sounds. // 9
Lyrics and Singing: Kevin Moore continues with fairly esoteric lyrics often seemingly about arbitrary things but I do like it a lot. Kevin Moore doesnt't have any range in his vocals but has a great voice tone and articulation. I love the vocals in terminal in particular. Unfortunately Moores vocals are very quiet and contrasted to a heavy guitar don't work as well as something slightly more ambient. // 8
Impression: This is definately a 'project' but a great one. Personally I find some of the heavy parts slightly generic... I love prog metal and obviously got into this via dream theater etc but the heaviness seems somewhat deliberately for the worshiping kids who seem to have overlooked OSI. it's a shame this couldn't turn into a full-time band, because with more gelling and writing this would be an amazing live band. Having said that I love the sound as always and it's still one of the albums of the year for sure. // 8...full text
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