A strong return to form
After spending the last three years focussing on other projects, ex-Dream Theater/Fates Warning/Chroma Key vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Moore and Fates Warning guitarist/bassist Jim Matheos have reunited under the banner of OSI, with ‘Blood’ the third collaboration from the renowned progressive rock musicians. Unlike previous OSI efforts, ‘Blood’ marks the first release without Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy behind the kit, with Porcupine Tree’s Gavin Harrison rounding out the revamped line-up.
Although there was a huge shift in direction between 2003’s ‘Office of Strategic Influence’ and 2006’s ‘Free’, ‘Blood’ represents an amalgamation of the two different sounding albums for the most part, with the distinction between Moore’s contributions and Matheos’ efforts standing out more than ever to create the unique sound that is OSI.
‘The Escape Artist’ is a perfect example of the pair’s collaborative efforts, with Matheos’ groove heavy guitar riffs blending seamlessly with Moore’s atmospheric keyboard work. Harrison’s drum work also seems to fit perfectly with the band’s slightly heavier sound, with his performance on ‘The Escape Artist’ matching Matheos’ weighty contribution to the song.
Much like the opening song, the fast paced ‘False Start’ and cut and paste jagged instrumental ‘Microburst Alert’ are tracks that wouldn’t have appeared out of place on the band’s debut effort, while the riff led ‘Be the Hero’ eventually turns out to be another one of the band’s heaviest efforts after a lengthy two minute opening filled with Moore’s trademark sound effects and the odd riff from Matheos.
Unlike the majority of ‘Free’, Moore also seems to have made a concerted effort to ensure that his vocal melodies are catchier this time around, with moody Chroma Key like ‘Radiologue’, the minimalist/acoustic based ‘Terminal’ and the equally dark and haunting closing title track ‘Blood’ standing out as the album’s truly stunning efforts.
OSI albums in the past have had their fair share of guest musicians, and ‘Blood’ is no exception, with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt contributing his vocals/song writing talents to ‘Stockholm’. Despite my familiarity with Opeth, Åkerfeldt’s performance on ‘Stockholm’ is quite different sounding with his off kilter notes at times reminding me of David Sylvian, and for that reason stands out as one of the more interesting sounding tracks on the album.
‘Blood’, despite sounding very much like what you would expect from OSI, stands apart from the band’s two previous efforts.
If you felt a little letdown with ‘Free’ after the brilliance of ‘Office of Strategic Influence’, and are a big fan of Moore’s solo work and Chroma Key output (and latter day Porcupine Tree for that matter), then ‘Blood’ is a definite must have.
(Inside Out Music/Riot! Entertainment)
More from OSI
- Fire Make Thunder [review]