OSI — Office Of Strategic Influence

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OSI - Office Of Strategic Influence cover
3.72 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2003

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. The New Math (What He Said) (3:36)
2. OSI (3:48)
3. When You're Ready (3:08)
4. Horseshoes and B-52's (4:18)
5. Head (5:18)
6. Hello, Helicopter! (3:43)
7. shutDOWN (10:24)
8. Dirt from a Holy Place (5:09)
9. Memory Daydreams Lapses (5:55)
10. Standby (Looks Like Rain) (2:11)

Total Time: 47:35

Bonus disc
1. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (8:50)
2. New Mama (2:24)
3. The Thing That Never Was (17:22)

Total Time: 28:36


- Kevin Moore / vocals and keyboards
- Jim Matheos / guitar and keyboards
- Mike Portnoy / drums
- Sean Malone / bass and Stick

Guest Musician:
- Steven Wilson / vocals on ShutDown

About this release

Release date: February 18th, 2003
Label: InsideOut

Thanks to progshine for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
siLLy puPPy
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.
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.
Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist reunited in 2003 with his old drummer Mike Portnoy (who himself is also ex-Dream Theater now) as well as Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos to form a project called OSI. Many who felt that Moore’s influence was something Dream Theater were sorely lacking after his departure were elated as this reunion of sorts, myself included. Kevin was Dream Theater‘s left-of-center influence. His obscure, abstract lyrics and the way he blended atmospheric textures into Dream Theater‘s shred-fests left such a mark on the three albums he was a part of that not only have the fans longed for his return, but the band has, arguably, never been the same.

After a couple of albums on his own under the moniker Chroma Key, as well as being sideman for Matheos’ Fates Warning, OSI emerged to rabid, drooling prog fans the world over with Office Of Strategic Influence. Add in a guest spots from Cynic‘s Sean Malone and Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and many fans had to pick themselves up off the ground to be able to get to the store and buy the CD. Now, don’t take this as a sign of mundane predictability, but given the musicians, this sounds pretty much like an educated fan would expect it to. It’s prog metal (later Fates Warning) with a strong electronic & keyboard texture (Chroma Key) being drummed by Mike Portnoy.

And honestly, it rules! As un-scholarly as that sounds, it’s just the truth. There is no overabundance of shred (unless you count Portnoy’s busy style), no wailing vocals (Moore is a very subdued, simple singer), and no “look how awesome I am” moments from any of the individual musicans. What we’re presented with is a strong, song-oriented album (which only means that they focus on composition more than musicianship) with tons of atmosphere and personality. Moore’s vocals and overall presence musically gives the material a bit of a Pink Floyd-vibe (the “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” Floyd, not the “Learning To Fly” Floyd) which is perfect seeing as how Disc 2 on this collection has a brilliant cover of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. Tracks like “Hello, Helicopter”, “Dirt From A Holy Place”, “Horseshoes & B-52′s” and “OSI” are simply stunning.

Now I had the 2-disc special edition of this album the first time around and I can’t find anything on this issue that wasn’t on the first. Two CDs, all the same bonus tracks, the enhanced video clips (including a concept video directed and edited by Kevin Moore for the track “Horsehoes and B-52s”), etc. But don’t let that stop you from grabbing it if you missed it the first time, as it all plays into the overall package of OSI the band. Having been a fan of the two albums since this one, Free and Blood, returning to Office Of Strategic Influence after these many years has been an enjoyable experience. Fans of any band mentioned here should definitely give this one a listen.

Members reviews

No OSI OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE reviews posted by members yet.

Ratings only

  • Unitron
  • adg211288
  • Anster
  • peccatum
  • stefanbedna
  • cannon
  • Colt
  • bratus
  • spitf1r3
  • Fernandi
  • Lynx33
  • sauromat
  • progshine
  • Negoba

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