OSI — Blood (review)

OSI — Blood album cover Album · 2009 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
False start

OSI began as a collaboration between Jim Matheos of Fates Waring, Kevin Moore of Chroma Key (and formally Dream Theater), and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. After two albums, Mike Portnoy was fed up of feeling like a studio drummer rather and a collaborator, so he dropped out of the problem after the band's sophomore album Free. As a replacement, the band brought in Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison to record their next album, Blood. Having a much more ambient and electronic feel than their debut (sadly I have yet to hear Free) the album is much more contemplative and mellow feeling to it with much less metal on the album. The balance of ambience and metal found on the album is a little off balance, however, with only a few hard hitting (and fantastic) metallic tracks only dotting the many more slow ambient tracks, some of which can be a bit slow moving and uneventful.

Blasting off with the killer The Escape Artist, I was at first hopeful for a fantastic album full of thumping metal tracks accented by Harrison's jazzier approach to metal and Matheos' inventive riffing. However, the album debuted on what I would soon call a False Start (ha, a pun), seeing as the album quickly halted after the end of that track. Although the ambient and psychedelic work of Kevin Moore began to grow on me with further listens, I was at first bored by his keyboard layers and atmospheric work. However, these short, hard hitting metal moments start to emerge as nice dynamics to the music, spicing up the ambient continuity with spices of metallic bliss; although the harder tracks are shorter and less contemplative than the ambient material, they pack a potent punch of dense Moore-esque metal, with incredible lyrics, very mellow melodies accenting crushing metallic riffs, and an overall fantastic display of composition work. However, as the atmospheres decline from psychedelic bliss to boring repetition, the greandeur of this album starts to diminish. Although I am supremely impressed by Moore's lyrical skill, his vocal style, and his prowess with the ambient keyboard loop, I am doomed to consider this album a rather non-essential release; the band has a great lineup and some truly spectacular moments, but overall the album does not do all that much for me, except make for a relaxing musical journey whenever I feel like being serenaded by this electronic amalgamation. Until Microburst Alert, which is little more than a jazzed up (instrumental) hip hop song.

In the end, this album is a very good release. However, its genius is limited. With only two truly metal songs and seven good but not as good ambient atmospheric tracks, the album begins to drag out by the time the title track rolls around. I do find it difficult, however, to sound like I'm trashing this album when it truly is a very good album. I just thing a little more metal injection would do it some good, especially with the massive success I found with The Escape Artist and False Start. Moore's atmospheres and lyrics make for a nice sublime journey, but they can't really compete with some of the heavier material on the album. Overall, Blood is a good album, but not an absolute necessity. 3+ stars.
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