OSI releases Fire Make Thunder

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Matt Miller

Staff Writer

On Tuesday March 27th, the progressive rock/metal super-group OSI released their fourth studio album. The album has been two years in the making and well worth the wait.

Currently, the group is centered around two fixed members and a rotating line-up of session musicians. The group originally started as a trio including guitarist/bassist Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), keyboardist and vocalist Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex. Dream Theater) and legendary drummer Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. Although the album does not include any contribution by Portnoy, current drummer Gavin Harrison does his job very well and shows that he has chops.  The group’s music incorporates both progressive metal and electronica into their music, to which Moore stated “are natural enemies.”

Opening with the stuttering electronics and wide-roaming samples of “Cold Call”, the band gets off to an atmospheric start, the music ambient but with a sense of menace that has you ever so slightly on edge although it’s impossible to clearly define exactly what is causing such unease. The contrast between the softly whispered passages – all stuttering beats and polite electronica – and the more surging guitar passages complete with the duo’s mellifluous vocal harmonies, gives the song an unpredictable edge, and the chugging riffs have both power and energy without overly contrasting with the unique melodic subtlety that OSI’s haunting vocals provide. As with previous records it’s all about control and restraint, and OSI knows how to temper their performances so that every phrase has maximum impact.

“Guards” opens with a stuttering beat that’s neatly augmented with overloaded bass and powerful vocals before opening out with the introduction of a vital guitar riff and analogue drums. It’s one of those songs that builds towards moments of real power, the fury of the guitar serving as an unexpected counterpoint to the more relaxed style of the verses.

However powerful these first two tracks prove to be, it is “Indian Curse” that really sets the senses tingling with its gentle acoustic strumming and atmospheric piano. It’s a track that combines haunting beauty with a very real sense of sorrow and it is enough to set your spine tingling as it slowly draws to its close only to lurch into the Porcupine Tree-esque riff of “Enemy Prayer.”

The two tracks forming an emotional climax to the album, the agitated electronics of the latter track stripping away the sense of sorrow and loss and replacing it with a chrome-plated rage that shimmers and gleams beneath the track’s surface.

Overall, the album is a fine crafted and well polished progressive metal album. It definitely shows the song-writing prowess that the Matheos/Moore songwriting partnership has to offer.

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