OSI
Office of Strategic Influence (reissue)
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Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist reunited in 2003 with his old drummer Mike Portnoy (who himself is also ex-Dream Theater now) as well as Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos to form a project called OSI. Many who felt that Moore’s influence was something Dream Theater were sorely lacking after his departure were elated as this reunion of sorts, myself included. Kevin was Dream Theater‘s left-of-center influence. His obscure, abstract lyrics and the way he blended atmospheric textures into Dream Theater‘s shred-fests left such a mark on the three albums he was a part of that not only have the fans longed for his return, but the band has, arguably, never been the same.

After a couple of albums on his own under the moniker Chroma Key, as well as being sideman for Matheos’ Fates Warning, OSI emerged to rabid, drooling prog fans the world over with Office Of Strategic Influence. Add in a guest spots from Cynic‘s Sean Malone and Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and many fans had to pick themselves up off the ground to be able to get to the store and buy the CD. Now, don’t take this as a sign of mundane predictability, but given the musicians, this sounds pretty much like an educated fan would expect it to. It’s prog metal (later Fates Warning) with a strong electronic & keyboard texture (Chroma Key) being drummed by Mike Portnoy.

And honestly, it rules! As un-scholarly as that sounds, it’s just the truth. There is no overabundance of shred (unless you count Portnoy’s busy style), no wailing vocals (Moore is a very subdued, simple singer), and no “look how awesome I am” moments from any of the individual musicans. What we’re presented with is a strong, song-oriented album (which only means that they focus on composition more than musicianship) with tons of atmosphere and personality. Moore’s vocals and overall presence musically gives the material a bit of a Pink Floyd-vibe (the “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” Floyd, not the “Learning To Fly” Floyd) which is perfect seeing as how Disc 2 on this collection has a brilliant cover of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. Tracks like “Hello, Helicopter”, “Dirt From A Holy Place”, “Horseshoes & B-52’s” and “OSI” are simply stunning.

Now I had the 2-disc special edition of this album the first time around and I can’t find anything on this issue that wasn’t on the first. Two CDs, all the same bonus tracks, the enhanced video clips (including a concept video directed and edited by Kevin Moore for the track “Horsehoes and B-52s”), etc. But don’t let that stop you from grabbing it if you missed it the first time, as it all plays into the overall package of OSI the band. Having been a fan of the two albums since this one, Free and Blood, returning to Office Of Strategic Influence after these many years has been an enjoyable experience. Fans of any band mentioned here should definitely give this one a listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
October 20th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jodi

    Had no idea this had been reissued. It’s a great album, but I haven’t listened to it in years…guess I need to dig it out again.


  2. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    I was surprised to see this reissued too. Hopefully the first 2 Chroma Key records get the special edition treatment soon…they are fantastic albums!

    And, since Metal Blade is on a reissue roll, how about Run To The Light!!


  3. Commented by: Jeff Kent

    I interviewed Kevin for this record and got to ask him how it felt to take apart and reconstruct Mike’s drum parts. he just smiled very wryly and said, how do you think it felt?’


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