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In Blood, O.S.I. have succeeded in creating a fascinating album at the crossroads between rock and progressive metal. Music, that alternates between atmospherically dense and aggressively demanding elements, while effortlessly transcending barriers between different styles and genres. Following its impressive predecessors, Office Of Strategic Influence (2003) and Free (2006), Blood is the third release by Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos. O.S.I. unites two exceptional composers who share their penchant for the unusual and are on the same artistic wavelength. 'We have different musical tastes but an unspoken musical understanding'; Moore enthuses. The creative process which produced Blood lasted more than a year. In their now familiar long distance collaboration Matheos sent his ideas via email to Moore, who honed them to his own taste before mailing the results back to Matheos. At the end of the day, some pieces were sent back and forth countless times, while others, such as the pulsating metal track Be The Hero , required very little exchange. When Jim sent me his tracks for I had a vocal idea right away. I think it all came together in a couple of days. I love when Jim sends really heavy ideas, and he doesn t mind me chopping them up. It was fun to play around with the times signatures by editing, and adding a lot of Minimoog effects and unison lines. Along with Moore and Matheos, Blood features Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison. There's also a guest appearance by Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) on Stockholm , which the Swedish musician composed together with the two O.S.I. masterminds. I think it was Kevin's idea to have a guest vocalist. 'He asked me if I had any suggestions and I immediately thought of Mikael', Matheos explains. 'It was Mikael's choice, we gave him several songs to pick from'. Mikael wrote the lyrics and melody and recorded his parts at home in Sweden. Moore and Matheos took care of the album's production themselves, while the mix was done with Grammy winner Phil Magnotti. Blood is an ambitious album recorded by real masters of their trade, for people with a taste for the above-average.
About the Artist
Brand new studio album of successful project OSI. Unique mix of musical elements from the genres of Rock, Metal and Electronic. All-Star project consisting of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex Dream Theater), Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison and guest singer Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth)
Top Customer Reviews
Blood, in my opion, is by far the best release from OSI to date. Kicks off with an explosion of sound right from the off. A perfect blend of hard hitting heavy riffs to the pure ambient soundscapes that OSI do so well. All this supported by probably one of the best drummers on Earth, Gavin Harrison (if you are a drummer then you should make this a compulsory addition to your album collection as Gavin's polyrhythms and use of displacement is sheer joy to listen to).
Buy this album without hesitation.
It is not as immediate as some albums and will need a few plays, but this is more than worth the wait.
The playing throughout is exceptional, as you would expect with the musicians on show with Jim Matheos of Fates Warning completing the lineup. We also have Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth guesting on the track Stockholm.
There is a great mix of rock, eletronica and samples on this disc and the overall sound ends up being a little unique, to me anyway.
Hints of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, obviously, but also of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. This all leads to a diverse and rewarding album.
I like the way tracks effortlessly move between rock and electronic passages and it gives the album as a whole a great flow.
The bonus cd is not just throwaway stuff either with 2 other new tracks and an extended version of Terminal from the main album.
It's certainly got me wanting to explore new OSI and Kevin Moore recordings.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This album is very airy, spaced out yet contained and very very tight.
I love this album...the song Blood is simply mind blowing. And my favorite "We come undone" is just beautiful and dark. To create Radiologue would need a fried brain with fifteen thousand cups of coffee and too many joints. I just love the way layers of ambient sound textures seep through the "metal" so to speak. The crazy stereo panning and fractured delays with guitars and wierd sounds all melted together to form a complete picture is something beyond my comprehension as to how all that gets executed so beautifully by Mr. Moore and OSI.
Kevin Moore's singing and voice is just unreal (at least I feel so that its one of the most unique voices I've heard in a long time which is also very natural). Radiologue is a great song with a very catchy chorus.
Last but not the least you HAVE to listen to believe the craziness that is the song "False start". The way OSI has played with twisting time signatures and beat inversions using just a simple riff and stereo delay and panning and tight drumming just makes you want to drive your car at 120 miles an hour. Beautiful!!! Its incredible how toward the end of the song this very aggressive riff starts off on the guitar alternating between the channels and it all sounds very out of time, but just then the drums kick in to complete a 3/8 timing just perfectly.
ANYWAY...I started off writing this as a small review in a hurry....but ended up writing a decent amount. Point being..just go ahead and buy this album. This is gold...and just another dimension of kickass perfection reached by OSI. The guitar textures, drum tone/ playing, Kevin, the ambiance & the whole SOUND is at its height as to what an excellent mix of all of these could be like..
Don't compare this album to "FREE" because free was another masterpiece and a very complete record by itself (not to say that blood is not). I personally feel that the songs in free had a different theme and motive altogther. Can't really put my finger on what makes Free so different from Blood for me personally.
"Blood" on the other hand has a personality of its own. That is dark, a bit mellow in places, but still quite aggressive and overall enigmatic.
All in all, I thank Kevin Moore for making music...and I've waited for this album for so long...and it was every bit worth it!!!!
Matheos brings in plenty of catchy guitar riffs, which are merged with Kevin Moore's unique sense of atmosphere. None of the songs are heavy from start to finish, but several tunes, including the album opener "The Escape Artist," "False Start," and "Be the Hero" are marked with Matheos' distinctive riff architecture which is grooving and gripping. When combined with Moore's considerably catchier vocal parts, especially on the chorus of "False Start," the tunes feel like they would work greatly in a live setting if the duo were ever to play a show.
Kevin Moore's slow, monotonous delivery is still prevalant on all the tunes he sings, but he manages to implement more melody this time around, especially on the more Chroma Key-like pieces. His atmospherically dense tunes involve more synth work, lots of protruding noisescapes, and pulsing beats. "Terminal" is a very moody tune, comprised of myriad digital and acoustic elements; it boasts a deep, haunting atmosphere while "We Come Undone" sees the band work some of the compositional aesthetics of Free into the composition. Then there is "Radiologue," possibly their most inspired songwriting, where they blend modern and traditional songwriting elements into a cohesive whole driving the piece to a bittersweet midsection filled with wicked sonic experimentation.
New drummer Gavin Harrison proves to be a great fit, as he contributes immensely to the songs. His fills on both the rhythmically heavier cuts and the slower-paced numbers are great, best shining on the somewhat spacey "Microburst Alert," which just features voiceovers draped over curious sound effects, gruelling bass throbs (all played by Matheos), and whacky mini Moog effects alongside dazzling unison lines. Harrison's drumming neither dominates the mix nor turns into a lazy, vapid 4/4 rhythmic power. His tone, fills, and timing are simply brilliant.
Opeth leader Mikael Akerfeldt guests on "Stockholm," whose lyrics and vocal melody he co-wrote, putting in a breathtaking performance. His restrained yet highly emotive singing in a relatively electronic musical setting is someting we will probably never hear again. The tune slowly picks up momentum as Matheos begins to lay down single-note themes towards the end to push the song to its deserved apex.
The title track is arguably the best album closer they have had, retaining the controlled riff work and blending it with a ubiquitous synth melody through the course of the whole track. It is a very dynamic song with an emotional undercurrent.
The lyrical themes explored on Blood are moreso comparable to those on Free rather than their politically driven debut. However, this album is slightly darker, and Kevin Moore's lyrics seem even more enigmatic and esoteric than before. That said, the theme of death has certainly crept into most of the tunes not to mention the lyrics about school shootings that permeat the entirety of "Be the Hero."
The bonus disc of the album contains a track sung by Tim Bowness from No-Man, and I do feel it would deserve a place on the regular edition of the album.
By the way, Phil Magnotti's mix on the album is phenomenal. He deserves a medal for his work.
The most striking components for me, initially, are the pulsing, off-center arrangements of many of the tracks, suggesting a concept album built off of a palpitating heart monitor. Also notable are the thick, sexy, candy-colored textures and synths, which mesh with Matheos' guitar work remarkably--again bringing artfully to mind the texture of blood.
Moore's vocals, at first seemed slightly less perfect than on the first two albums, but the more I hear it the more I like them. On that point, Akerfeldt and Bowness are freaking amazing. Maybe this is a departure point for the group, and more guest vocals will be forthcoming.
If that is the case . . . bring back BOWNESS! OMG! If you buy this disc, get the BONUS EDITION! No Celebrations is probably the best song on either disc. Funny . . . its exclusion from the album seems really stupid, until you think about it thematically, and the whole thing suddenly extends away from you with vertigo-inducing depth that you might never have expected . . .
Yeah, I'll give it five stars tomorrow, just as soon as I catch up with it.
I want to start by saying that I have loved everything so far that Kevin Moore has done, so I am biased. Please take that into account when reading the rest of this review. I am not trying to slight Jim Matheos or any of the other fantastic musicians who have appeared on OSi albums by the way, I just happen to be a fan because of Kevin Moore.
I bought the special edition despite the fact that the first two OSi special editions were a little disappointing to me personally. Packaging and design was terrific on the first, but the extra content did not really appeal to me. Same thing on Free (2nd album). That being said, there were one or two things i did like on the extra content of both of those albums, it's just that overall I hoped for better bonus content. I did also love the entire first two albums (standard content) no filler there!
This new album has less bonus content, but it is fantastic. I love No Celebrations! What a great song featuring Tim Bowness (of No-Man, a long-running collaboration with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson) on vocals. Chemical Brothers is also a solid song with a different feel than most OSi stuff. It was written by Elliot Smith, so that's probably why it has a different feel.
Now on to the standard content of Blood, the newest OSi release.
This album rocks! Layers Layers Layers... Experimental Sounds.... Skippy effects... Spoken Word Sound Bites... ROCK ROCK ROCK... Slow down and get trippy... Get UP!!! ROCK ROCK ROCK!!!! Layers Layers Layers.... Done...
That's my review! Five Stars!
OSi helps keep me from missing Chroma Key! I still miss Chroma Key a little bit though I guess... If you like this, check out Chroma Key too!
I hope that Jim Matheos keeps working with Kevin Moore, because he brings awesome rock to Kevin's trippy stuff. This is also the first OSi album not to feature Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums. It features Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree and King Crimson fame. I do not have any experience with Porcupine Tree or King Crimson, but I think Gavin gives this album a unique feel. I really like his drumming style, particularly on Blood which is not a real heavy rocking song, but he gets very diverse with the drums and cymbals on this track. The drums are one of the main things that make Blood one of my favorite tracks on the album. I also like the subtle vocal effects on Kevins voice.
Also, if you are a fan of Opeth, Michael Ackerfeldt sings lead vocals on the song Stockholm. It's not the best song on the album, a little slow and moody, but it's not bad. The last minute and a half or so of the song does rock a bit. This song would be a great background score for a movie or tv show...
Bottom Line... If you've liked any other OSi release, you will love this one. If you like experimental trippy weird soundscape infused rock with lots of subtle layers and effects and have never heard of OSi, you should give it a spin, the second, third and fourth spins get so much better when you start to recognize the path that the songs follow.
If you're looking for straight forward melodic rock and roll, or Dream Theater or Fates Warning (I do love both of those bands by the way!) type stuff, go and get something else... You'll hear glimpses of Fates here, but it's not the same type of stuff. It's a whole different kind of awesome!
My personal favorites are False Start, Radiologue, Be the Hero and Blood. But there is not a song I don't like on this album.
The album is aggressive and powerful but also has a polished sleekness to it that makes it sound very modern even though its roots are in classic prog metal from the 90s. There are many ambient hints of electronica and alternative rock offered by Kevin Moore that blend incredibly well with the heavy guitar riffs delivered by Jim Matheos. The vocals are cool and subdued as we've come to expect from OSI, and yet they complement the music perfectly.
The cameo by Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth on the track 'Stockholm' reminds me of everything great about their album "Damnation" fused with the simmering power of OSI. 'The Escape Artist' is a fantastic high-energy opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. 'False Start' features a great off-time interplay between Matheos and Harrison which must be heard to be believed. 'Radiologue' is simply one of the coolest tracks I've heard in a long time - I listened to it about 15 times in a row at one point, just hitting the repeat button on my player over and over. And the title track is one of the most sinister and memorable album closers I've heard from any band in a long time...
If your musical tastes tend toward progressive rock and/or metal, you should consider giving this album a try. I don't think you will be disappointed at all.