OSI – Fire Make Thunder
Loving progressive metal is a difficult relationship, and for all the generally bland stuff that I have to sift though, it’s stuff like OSI’s Fire Make Thunder that make it all worthwhile. For those who know me well enough to have heard me rant about the merits of the genre, I’m not sure I believe it to be a genre unto itself, but more of an intersection of various outside and strange genre elements. As these become successful, they become standbys of the progressive ethos: building blocks for future bands to build up. What kills me is when bands decide to stay within the confines of the building blocks of the past, and what makes me fall madly in love is when a band like OSI takes those blocks and run them headfirst against something that is completely counterintuitive to its nature, like say… Electronica.
Listening to Fire Make Thunder is an absolutely fascinating experience, and it spawns from the fierce conflict between the styles of music presented. Instead of ever settling into an established comfort zone, the music opposes itself in ways that make it come all the more alive. This of course, before even mentioning the immense talent of the three musicians taking part. I don’t think I need to present the credentials of Jim Matheos, especially after how well received his collaboration with former bandmate John Arch went over last year. Kevin Moore, for those less invested in band histories than I, seemed to present much of the creative edge for Dream Theater’s spectacular Images And Words and Awake albums. The writing process for OSI consists of the two of them throwing musical ideas back and forth at each other, and at the end of the day letting Gavin Harrison add drums, who is my personal king of progressive rock drumming.
The result is incredibly dark and moody, as well as deeply intriguing. For those familiar with Blood, this is quite similar, except perhaps more balanced. What also separates it is a much stronger metal edge. The strange nature of the electronica fusion is what originally opened my eyes to the beauty that is OSI on Blood, but on Fire Make Thunder, the metal elements are cranked as well, taking an already well-working formula and delivering it with authority. My experience with Blood had been that songs embodied either the progressive metal or electronica elements, but Fire Make Thunder has allowed the two to mesh more effectively, allowing for larger heaps of both. Even with an extremely limited range and very little “command”, Kevin Moore works wonders with his vocals, managing to turn a distinctive monotone to his advantage. Everything on this album fits together extremely well, though I’d be willing to bet there will be a lot of people along the way for whom OSI just isn’t their thing. Stuff like this tends towards a more limited audience I think, but it can’t be faulted as being anything less than excellent.
Dagg’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5