OSI – Fire Make Thunder

Fire Make Thunder marks the fourth undertaking for the collaborative duo known as OSI. Formed in 2002 by Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, former Dream Theater keyboardist), OSI is a long distance partnership, both musicians typically writing and recording alone and sending song ideas back and forth for further elaboration. Written and recorded throughout most of 2011, this latest release once again reflects the eclectic influences of both Matheos and Moore.

Returning as the band’s session drummer is Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree, this time co-writing one of the tracks with the band. All other instruments and programming were performed by both Matheos and Moore, while vocals and lyrics were handled exclusively by Moore.
All of the recording for Fire Make Thunder, with the exception of drums, was done by Moore and Matheos at each musician’s respective home studio with drums being recorded at Harrison’s home in London. Final overdubs as well as some additional writing/arranging was completed in July 2011 in Jamaica, Iowa, where the band mixed alongside engineer Matt Sepanic at Sound Farm Studio and Recording Environment. Mastering was handled by renowned engineer Roger Siebel. The record was produced by both Moore and Matheos.

Judging by some of the OSI alumni, most would suspect/describe this record as prog metal. Now, this is fine if you need everything you hear to be neatly pigeon-holed so that you can make your decisions without having to spend any time actgually listening to the music that the bands produce. (In fact, whilst your at it, rather than checking the genre – can you decide by looking at the font the band use to write their name?).

Lead track “Cold Call” begins with some scene setting spoken word samples hinting at some post apocalyptic radio broadcast. The music takes over with some great guitar work and driven forward by the technical drumming (I’m not a massive fan of the superfast, double kick-drum style of playing but it works brilliantly here). Kevin Moore’s vocals simply add to the atmosphere giving a brooding intensity that gives a more dark and sinister feel to the album than many death metal acts manage with all that their hounds of hell growling can produce.

Not all tracks hit with the mallet blow of hard hitting guitar and drums. Third track “Indian Curse” is a much more acoustically worked production. Again, the haunting vocals create the power – and no sign of bludgeoning drums. Lots of ambient sound effects, loops and production tricks make for an interesting and, I suppose, progressive approach to the work. That is, of course, assuming that by being progressive OSI don’t produce three minute pop songs – they don’t.

One of the most stunning and atmospheric records of the year, with “Fire Make Thunder” have created a record that bears repeated listening.  A thought provoking and cleverly developed collection of music.

Released 27th March on Metal Blade Records.

For more information: www.osiband.com

Reviewed by David Wilson

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