Be careful when you pop this one in - there is enough sheer Prog Metal talent condensed into OSI that upon playing it, the universe might implode upon itself. Just look at this line-up: the main men are Jim Matheos (FATES WARNING) on guitars and Kevin Moore (ex-DREAM THEATER) on vocals, with both fellows handling keyboards and programming. Backing them up are Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER, LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT) on acoustic drums and, on about half of the tracks, Joey Vera (FATES WARNING) on bass. If that's not enough to raise some interest in your typical Prog Metalhead, I don't know what is.
It's kind of funny. Many folks (myself included) have come to loathe the term "Progressive Metal," since it almost always just means either "DREAM THEATER clone" or "FATES WARNING clone." When you get a band that is half DREAM THEATER guys and half FATES WARNING guys, you'd expect stuff in that vein - 100% pure Progressive wankery of the most typical style. The strange thing is that OSI doesn't sound much anything like either of those bands. Instead, the band plays a very chilled-out form of Hard Rock with some Progressive tendencies and lots of electronic influences and beats. Think NINE INCH NAILS meets PORCUPINE TREE, in a very structured and poppy verse-chorus-verse format.
Some of the songs here are really great. I'm particularly fond of closer "Our Town," mainly due to its wonderful incorporation of the banjo. Some songs, on the other hand, are not so great - see opener "Sure You Will," which doesn't exactly get things going with any sort of punch or bang. Most of the other songs fall somewhere in between, sometimes boring and sometimes really latching on to a great hook or melody or atmosphere. Had there been more songs like "Our Town," this album would have been a masterpiece. As it stands, there is far too much mediocrity floating about for it to count as anything more than perhaps slightly above average.
If you're craving something along the lines of a more subtle and less angsty NINE INCH NAILS or a more electronic-influenced PORCUPINE TREE, OSI will do the trick. If that's not how you roll, you would do better to check out some of the other bands these guys are in. (Online May 23, 2006)