OSI – Fire Make Thunder

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Review by Jason Guest

Composed with both of them buried deep in their musical caverns/dungeons/batcaves many many miles apart, sending each other large files via the internet until the product entered its final stages, what OSI duo Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, former Dream Theater keyboardist) have created with album number four, Fire Make Thunder is an album that exemplifies music created within an evolved technoculture. With everything recorded and arranged electronically, the end product is a masterwork in precision, manipulation, and synthesised emotion. Where albums recorded in a similar manner are prone to the lifeless, cold clarity of hyper production that fillets the work of any and all essence of vitality, Fire Make Thunder has an organic feel to it. As frightening a prospect as that may be for sci-fi films involving cyborgs, terminators, and toasters with more brainpower than Stephen Hawking, here the inorganic elements of technology are perfectly balanced with the human.

The layers of electronica, keyboards, and samples make for a plethora of atmospheres ranging from the calm and the contemplative to the calculated and the intense. Matheos’s guitar work is controlled, melancholic, and melodic, his riffs heavy without being aggressively shunted to the front of the mix, and refined in the interplay with the other timbres that constitute the album’s many textures. Moore’s vocals are delivered in the same cool, calculated manner and lend the lyrics a melancholic and somehow distanced feel and embody the nature of the album’s electronic genesis. And Gavin Harrison’s remarkable drumming skills serve the needs of each track, his flourishes and fills provide a dynamic foundation upon which the music can firmly sit whilst simultaneously offering an interactive wall for them to be played off. Excellent production and masterful musicianship alone don’t make an album; it’s always down to the songs. With such diversity in moods, tempo, feel, and style, there’s not one bad track here and it’s difficult to identify a standout track. This is prog without the pomp, without the time-signature leaps and bounds, and without the incessant key changes. Its ambience, its mutability, and its intelligent dynamism make this an album deserving much attention.

8 out of 10

www.osiband.com

Track Listing:

  1. Cold Call
  2. Guards
  3. Indian Curse
  4. Enemy Prayer
  5. Wind Won’t Howl
  6. Big Chief II
  7. For Nothing
  8. Invisible Men