OSI - Blood (Inside Out/Riot)

Prog metal supergroup OSI keep the Blood flowing, pulling in different influences and taking the listener on a musical trip.

Chances are if you are into some sort of progressive metal or rock, you have heard of OSI (Office Of Strategic Influence).

A "supergroup" of sorts, comprised of two legendary figures from the genre: original Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore, and Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos, they have recorded the follow up to 2003's OSI and 2005's Free in their latest release, Blood (Inside Out / Riot).

Right from the start, The Escape Artist gets the blood flowing. With a beautifully heavy riff and Moore's haunting vocals, it sends the listener on some type of hypnotic journey, going from heavy guitar work into keyboard textures and even moving into industrial electronic passages. It's an excellent choice for an introduction track.

Musically, this band is a progressive music fan's wet dream, combining Moore and Matheos' musicianship with some help along the way. On the first two albums, the drum seat was filled by the legendary Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, but it was time for a change, and they have found a replacement (and then some) for Portnoy in Porcupine Tree drum prodigy Gavin Harrison. His performance here really gives Blood another dimension: displaying high levels of technique and skill, his work on the instrumental piece Mindburst Alert is phenomenal. It is his musical playground.

This album pulls a lot of different influences from within and without the progressive genre. On one hand, you have the heavy False Start which would definitely be at home on a Dream Theater record, the Porcupine Tree like Be A Hero then switches gears to the electronica inspired Terminal, the ambient like We Come Undone, and all the way to the stunning album closer, the title track Blood.

A special treat for prog fans is the appearance of Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt singing lead vocals on the track Stockholm. Mikael's clean vocals really lend themselves to the electronic ambience of the track, which is a far cry from his growling vocals exhibited in Opeth, but it makes for something different.

All that said, Blood is not for everyone. A casual music listener may find it hard to listen to, but a progressive music fan will be all over this. It has its twists and turns, its lows and highs, but as a whole, Blood flows consistantly and can be an aural treat for the listener.

OSI's Blood is out now on Inside Out/Riot.