For those of you who don’t know O.S.I. (shame on you!), they could easily be considered a supergroup of prog metal masters. Featuring Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) as the two staple members, their albums have seen appearances from Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), and several more. With credentials like that, this is a band that practically demands notice.
I’ve personally been a fan of this band for several years. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that a new album, Fire Make Thunder, was set for release. Now that I have it, does it live up to my expectations?
Let me describe the sound of O.S.I. for you real quick, as it’s unfair to just label them a prog rock band and leave it at that. Yes, they have some odd time signatures here and there. Yes, they do amazing mixtures of mellow and heavy. But there is also something very industrial about the band. I’m not referring to the electronic subgenre either. It’s more that I envision steel factories when listening to O.S.I.. Grimy smokestacks rising up, a dark smog cloud hanging overhead. That’s how I feel when I listen to O.S.I. and I like it.
With Fire Make Thunder, that same feeling washed over me as soon as I hit ‘Play’. It was a cold, mechanical welcome that I felt very comfortable embracing. Now, that’s not to say that the album feels harsh or overly digital. There are definitely moments of gentle warmth and beauty, such as in Winds Won’t Howl. There are also times when the band hits you hard, like in the instrumental Enemy Prayer.
This album doesn’t feel as heavy as previous releases, but that’s not what is important about O.S.I.. Listening to one of their albums is like embarking on a sonic journey where new and amazing tones and sounds assault you from all sides constantly. Crassly put, it’s an audiophile’s wet dream. It sounds fantastic and I truly enjoyed listening to it several times.
The Final Word: Fire Make Thunder only reinforces my love for O.S.I.. It’s a beautiful, harsh album that I’ll be returning to many times in the future.
Check out our exclusive interview with Jim Matheos here.
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