OSI
Progressive Metal • United States

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O.S.I. is a progressive rock/metal supergroup, consisting of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning ) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key) as the core duo. Albums have typically seen a host of guest musicians in support.

Matheos asked Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy to lend his talents to what was initially to be Matheos' solo project. The original style of the project can be heard on the special edition of the CD. The track The Thing That Never Was - a long progressive instrumental, was written by Matheos before any collaborators were involved. Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) was asked to sing on the project, but he felt the style of the music that had been written to that point didn't appeal to him. However, late in the project Wilson contributed vocals for one track, shutDOWN.

Matheos subsequently recruited Kevin Moore (Chroma Key), who had played keyboards on various Fates Warning albums in
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Thanks to progkidjoel, bartosso, Time Signature for the updates

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OSI Discography

OSI albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.80 | 14 ratings
Office Of Strategic Influence
Progressive Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 3.70 | 11 ratings
Free
Progressive Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.44 | 18 ratings
Blood
Progressive Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 3.14 | 10 ratings
Fire Make Thunder
Progressive Metal 2012

OSI EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Re: Free
Progressive Metal 2006

OSI live albums

OSI demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

OSI boxset & compilations

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OSI Reviews

OSI Fire Make Thunder

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
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kluseba
OSI are an abbreviation for "Office of Strategic Influence" which was also the band's first release nine years ago. The group is composed of the two famous Progressive Metal musicians Kevin Moore who has been in Dream Theater as well as in Fates Warning and Jim Matheos who still is in Fates Warning and who has recently released a critically acclaimed album with his band colleague John Arch under the Arch / Matheos banner. The third man on board is the drummer Gavin Harrison. True Progressive Rock fans should know him, too as he has been involved in King Crimson and still is a part of Porcupine Tree. In the past, OSI featured even more famous musicians such as Sean Malone, Mike Portnoy and Joey Vera. I think these guys don't need an introduction anymore. That's why one could describe OSI as a all-star band or even a super-group of the genre and the whole thing sounds quite promising.

But then, there is the music. The album is quite slow and has a pretty dark atmosphere. Only very few tracks are heavy and feature very minimalistic riffs that sound somewhat Doom, Groove and Industrial Metal orientated. Some tracks even have some Sludge references or very slight Country moments. Another dominating element is the keyboards that add a very minimalistic electronic touch to the sound. This description sounds quite diversified but don't get fooled by the description. The music is very calm, laid back and minimalistic. The overall atmosphere is quite depressive and grey. It goes as far that this release can almost be described as an Ambient record with its numerous floating moments.

Some of the hypnotizing tracks need a lot of time to grow but most of them simply won't do so. This album lacks of the warmth that one knows from bands such as Fates Warning and especially early Dream Theater. It's hard to believe that the main artist on this release is the same guy that created songs like "Only A Matter Of Time", "Surrounded" or "Space-Dye West" as this album simply feels dumb and numb. I would even associate a feeling on the thin line between being very sad and being emotionless to the record. As you can see, some sort of concept is there but only one solid basis idea doesn't make an entire record that lacks of any gripping variation.

Some lyrics and song titles may seem to be influenced by the culture of the North American First Nations but this can't be detected in the songs themselves as there are no folk elements, exotic lyrics or particularly Indian atmospheres to find. The only term I may associate with the First Nations and that I can hear throughout the record is a strange feeling of longing or loneliness that may reflect the view on a better past and a shattered present of the Indian communities that are now culturally, mentally and politically imprisoned in reserves thanks to failed American and Canadian politics in the past.

In the end, if you are looking for an atmospheric and minimalistic record to dig into, you might like this release. If you are looking for diversified changes of style, any solo passages or catchy tracks, you won't be happy with this album. I especially dislike the cold and minimalistic guitar riffs, the repetitive keyboard sounds, the almost inaudible bass guitar lines, the faceless drumming and the redundant vocals coming from three musicians that can clearly do better. As you can see, there isn't much that I don't dislike which explains my negative final rating. I have given this album enough time and three to four spins but it simply refuses to grow on me no matter how and when I do approach this. I would only recommend this album to fans of dark, industrial and simplistic Ambient stuff. Anybody else shouldn't get fooled by the big names of the members and head for their original bands instead.

OSI Fire Make Thunder

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
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Time Signature
Cold call...

Genre: progressive rock/metal

Connoisseurs of progressive metal will know that OSI (or Office of Strategic Influence) is a project between Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch / Matheos). Thus, we are dealing with some truly iconic names within the universe of progressive metal.

If you are familiar with Fates Warning and Dream Theater, but not for OSI, it is understandable if you expect complex and epic progressive metal with lot of technically advanced playing and odd time signatures, and you are forgiven if you expect the guitars and drums to be at the center of attention. Of course, if that is what you expect, you will disappointed because OSI's music is far from the kind of progressive metal, one associates with Dream Theater and Fates Warning. The primary emphasis in OSI's music is on atmosphere and ambiance rather than on displaying musicianship. This means that the music on "Fire Make Thunder" finds itself in a fascinating no-man's land between progressive electro-rock, alternative rock and metal. I certainly would not describe it as all out metal in any case.

There is plenty of metallic riffage from Matheos', some of which is heavy and groovy, and perhaps slightly simpler and industrially oriented than one might be accustomed to in a Fates Warning context. However, I think there are some similarities between his riffing on "Fire Make Thunder" and Fates Warning's more industrially inspired "Disconnected", and there are also a couple of riffs that build on odd time signatures now and then (it is after all one of Matheos' trademarks). Unlike "Disconnected", however, it is not the distorted guitars that constitute the key element here, as there are several passages dominated by atmospheric keyboards and other effects. There are even entire tracks that are totally void of metal guitar, such as "Indian Curse" and "For Nothing", and in other track, the guitar takes more of a background role, as in "Wind Won't Howl" and "Big Chief II." Note that one should not expect the same kind of synth acrobatics as Kevin Moore was in charge of when he was in Dream Theater. His contribution on "Fire Make Thunder" consists in atmospheric effects and general ambiance. He is also in charge of the dry and chanting, almost introvert, vocals.

On the whole, we are certainly dealing with interesting and expressive music that you can easily lose yourself in. However - and fanboys are free to hate me for this - I do not think that this is music that is in any way compelling. If you like atmospheric progressive metal, then "Fire Make Thunder" is certainly recommended, but do not expect progressive metal a la Dream Theater or Fates Warning. I must say that I also think that there are other releases within the universe of atmospheric progressive metal/rock that are more interesting and compelling, like Cynic's "Carbon-Based Anatomy". Still "Fire Make Thunder" is a quality release which is very easy to enjoy.

OSI Fire Make Thunder

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
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Conor Fynes
'Fire Make Thunder' - OSI (8/10)

Although OSI began as a supergroup pairing between Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos and former Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore, a string of critically successful records has gone to establish the band with a sound that is all its own. Although it's undeniable that a great deal of OSI's initial recognition and exposure was due to Matheos and Moore's history with two of prog metal's titans, they have since developed a fairly signature sound for this project. 'Fire Make Thunder' is the fourth journey from this collaboration, and while a similar sound to those of past OSI material is still strongly evident here, the album feels no less relevant to progressive rock in 2012. Even for listeners who are not already a fan of either musician, 'Fire Make Thunder' should make for an impressive listen.

Although OSI is typically labelled as 'progressive metal', the sound is far-flung from Fates Warning's calculating fury, or the early Dream Theater's technical showmanship. The music on 'Fire Make Thunder' has some of the qualities of metal, but there is a decidedly ambient approach to the way these songs are produced and arranged. As has been the case for OSI since their debut however, the most distinctive aspect of what the band does is the unique combination of Matheos' proggy songwriting, and Moore's more laid-back sensibility. Musically, OSI here feels like a continuation of what Moore once did with his solo project Chroma Key. The sound is warm and vibrant, but the mood, more often than not, is one of melancholy and reflection. Matheos' dark instrumental ideas compliment Moore's dynamic very nicely. To top things off, virtuoso drummer Gavin Harrison (of Porcupine Tree) offers his talents as well, making for the best drumwork yet heard in an OSI record.

'Fire Make Thunder' is not much different stylistically from the ambient metal direction of what has come before for OSI, but there is a greater emphasis on the guitars than before, solving an issue I had when first listening to the band (with the album 'Free') where it felt like Matheos was not being represented as much as he should be. That being said, Kevin Moore's contributions still feel the most distinctive and indicative of OSI's overall style. Although Matheos does the songwriting, Moore's melancholic quirk weaves its way through everything he does, particularly the lyrics. Poetic and mysterious are two terms that might best describe the lyrical impact on 'Fire Make Thunder'. Kevin Moore's voice is a love-it-or-hate-it thing for metalheads, and while his delivery sometimes feels the constraints of his limited range, the warmth of his voice compliments his style very well.

OSI certainly isn't a typical progressive metal band, but fans of Fates Warning and Dream Theater likely won't be disappointed when they hear this. Even outside of that fanbase, OSI has created something that feels fresh, modern and relevant. Although the sound runs the risk of sounding a little too similar to what the band has done in the past, 'Fire Make Thunder' is an impressive, lasting, and deceptively laid-back record that should make some waves in the prog community.

OSI Office Of Strategic Influence

Album · 2003 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
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.

OSI Free

Album · 2006 · Progressive Metal
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Conor Fynes
'Free' - OSI (6/10)

Prog rock supergroups are generally consistent in two ways. First, they are bound to create a level of excitement for the fans of whatever artists involved, and second, they almost always disappoint. While jazz 'super' groups work because that style is focused on the musicianship and skill of the members, it's rare that a group of established musicians will put a great deal of effort or ambition into a project that isn't part of their 'flagship' band. Regardless, OSI has proven itself to be more than a one-off venture. Leading this group is keyboardist Kevin Moore, who most will know for his tenure in the 'classic' lineup of Dream Theater, although he has kept himself busy since leaving, be it through his solo work with Chroma Key, or his keyboard contributions to Fates Warning. Joining him from Fates Warning is guitarist Jim Matheos and bassist Joey Vera. Add now-former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy into the mix and you have a group that's bound to get progressive metallers around the world excited. But does OSI pay off the fans' anticipation?

'Free' is the second album coming from the OSI project, and readily evident in each song here is the declaration that this is a separate entity from any of the band member's other work or 'best known' bands. The closest thing this might come to is Kevin Moore's Chroma Key, although OSI brings in a metal element. At its core, this is atmospheric hard rock, complete with chunky riffs, catchy vocal hooks, and plenty of electronic ambiance to make things more interesting. Although it may have been different on OSI's first album, 'Free' is a very keyboard-driven effort, and considering that Kevin Moore is also doing the vocal work, it's clear who the star of the show is from track one onwards. From a perspective of songwriting, these songs are fairly easy to digest, but certainly enjoyable. Kevin Moore's voice leans towards the warm-yet-not-technically-skilled spectrum of singers, and this works with the fairly straightforward style that OSI is going for here.

The production gives OSI a sound that's comparable to Porcupine Tree, and though there is little to startle a seasoned prog listener here, the rich and professional recording gives this collection of songs a perfect frame. Moore's approach here is personal and sincere, although the one-sided nature of the album tends to hurt the album's lasting effect. Although OSI may take the listener through harder rocking tunes and softer ballads alike, the emotional resonance feels the same throughout this album, and as such, it makes an already accessible album all the less of a challenge. To answer the question I posed; yes, OSI does deliver something new for fans of Dream Theater and Fates Warning, but the enjoyment sadly shrinks once a listener gains familiarity with the work. Kevin Moore delivers a fine performance on 'Free', but this brevity could have been offset by a more band-based experience. Although there is a full cast of musicians here, the limelight is shed on ambient electronic-based rock tunes, and the rest of the artists fail to get the degree of exposure here that their fans might have been expected.

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