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Sometimes Awful, But Really Good Usually - 67%

GuntherTheUndying, June 1st, 2009

Maybe they weren’t meant to be friends: Kevin Moore leaves Dream Theater, forms Office of Strategic Influence with former bandmate Mike Portnoy, who later cans the band after two albums because of Kevin Moore’s natural state of being a dick. I’d bet a lot of longtime fans of this semi-active project also featuring Jim Matheos of Fates Warning would instantly doubt anything worthwhile would arise without Portnoy hammering away, but that doesn’t impact “Blood” at all. Instead, OSI succeeds wonderfully at acquiring an unusual progressive rock ambience, but dear lord, the gods are ashamed otherwise. With all the experience and knowledge of progressive music, OSI need not Portnoy or anyone else for that matter because they carry on successfully throughout “Blood” with what they do best: progressive rock, not metal. Although they try storming both fronts, these gentlemen quickly get metalized, in the worst way, of course.

The lineup kind of speaks for itself. I mean we got guys from Dream Theater and Fates Warning…how do they screw up? It’s easy as 1-2-3: nu-metal bullshit. That’s right kids, there are a good count of songs, especially in the record’s primordial stage, that rely completely on riffing directly inspired from “Roots” and other tragedies running wild in repetition and extremely dull textures. Musically, nothing commanding lurks besides chugging grooves, stop-start formulas, and industrial touches derailing these anthems into a ditch where reverse and drive do no good. Needless to say, Kevin Moore reminds me of a wealthy, intelligent individual that has already achieved the dreams of normal men and women, but feels something else needs to be conquered, and after trying to hunt metal down, he understands the truth: you can’t always get what you want. Sorry Mr. Chroma Key, but metal ain’t your thing!

Thankfully though, the majority of “Blood” does not lie adjacent with these deplorable violations; instead, OSI uses what should be the independent focus of this project: experimental/progressive rock. Now properly diverting away from chugging riffs, the guitars turn into a simple repetition of a few chords, just echoing calm patterns and ambient sections underneath mellow percussion; that’s the genius of it too. These softer songs are manufactured to be lasting and memorable, yet progressively sound in a musical cycle that works brilliantly. Moore’s vocals (a light, almost spoken-word style) obviously appeal to these ideas more comfortably than the half-assed abortions portrayed during the first few cuts of “Blood,” quickly making his vocal effort something like excellence towards OSI’s objective. Not only that, but there are many attributing factors also aiding the overall effort wonderfully, such as catchiness worth positivity, great atmosphere, fitting solos, and clustered surprises making “Blood” wonderful on this spectrum.

It’s funny though, because the embraced metallic edge that Kevin Moore clearly wants more than anything just stares at him, refusing to obey his every command. However, “Blood” is a stellar accomplishment when discussing experimental/progressive rock and ambient overtones, which almost controls OSI’s every move throughout their third full-length offering; certainly their core strength, so why isn’t it full embraced? Perhaps things could have better, but overall, I say “Blood” is an acceptable album from this supergroup, yet sometimes these progressive pioneers are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and not usually performing on their expected levels. Still, if you enjoy Dream Theater, Fates Warning or others, you’ll want to see the OSI Doctrine on your desk soon.

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