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OSI - Blood Review

by Matt Hensch

Maybe they were not meant to be friends. After leaving Dream Theater, Kevin Moore forms Office of Strategic Influence with former band mate Mike Portnoy, who later cans the band after two albums because of Kevin Moore's natural state of being a dick. I would bet a lot of longtime fans of this semi-active project also featuring Jim Matheos of Fates Warning would instantly doubt anything worthwhile would arise without Portnoy hammering away, but that does not impact Blood at all. Instead, OSI succeeds wonderfully at acquiring an unusual progressive rock ambience, but dear lord, the gods are ashamed otherwise. With all the experience and knowledge of progressive music, OSI need not Portnoy or anyone else for that matter because they carry on successfully throughout Blood with what they do best: progressive rock, not metal. Although they try storming both fronts, these gentlemen quickly get metalized, in the worst way, of course.

The lineup kind of speaks for itself. I mean we got guys from Dream Theater and Fates Warning…how do they screw up? It's easy as 1-2-3: nu-metal bullsh*t. That is right kids, there are a good count of songs, especially in the record's primordial stage, that rely completely on riffing directly inspired from Roots and other tragedies running wild in repetition and extremely dull textures. Musically, nothing commanding lurks besides chugging grooves, stop-start formulas, and industrial touches derailing these anthems into a ditch where reverse and drive do no good. Needless to say, Kevin Moore reminds me of a wealthy, intelligent individual that has already achieved the dreams of normal men and women, but feels something else needs to be conquered, and after trying to hunt metal down, he understands the truth: you cannot always get what you want. Sorry Mr. Chroma Key, but metal ain't your thing!

Thankfully though, the majority of Blood does not lie adjacent with these deplorable violations; instead, OSI uses what should be the independent focus of this project: experimental/progressive rock. Now properly diverting away from chugging riffs, the guitars turn into a simple repetition of a few chords, just echoing calm patterns and ambient sections underneath mellow percussion; therein lays the genius. These softer songs are manufactured to be lasting and memorable, yet progressively sound in a musical cycle that works brilliantly. Moore's vocals (a light, almost spoken-word style) obviously appeal to these ideas more comfortably than the half-assed abortions portrayed during the first few cuts of Blood, quickly making his vocal effort something like excellence towards OSI's objective. Not only that, but there are many attributing factors also aiding the overall effort wonderfully, such as catchiness worth positivity, great atmosphere, fitting solos, and clustered surprises making Blood wonderful on this spectrum.

It is funny though, because the embraced metallic edge that Kevin Moore clearly wants more than anything just stares at him, refusing to obey his every command. However, Blood is a stellar accomplishment when discussing experimental/progressive rock and ambient overtones, which almost controls OSI's every move throughout their third full-length offering; certainly their core strength, so why not fully embrace it? Perhaps things could have better, but overall, I say Blood is an acceptable album from this supergroup. Sometimes, however, these progressive pioneers are hanging on by the skin of their teeth while not performing at their expected levels. Still, if one enjoys Dream Theater, Fates Warning or others, one will want to see the OSI Doctrine in one's record collection soon.

The Escape Artist
False Start
We Come Undone
Be the Hero
Microburst Alert

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OSI - Blood


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