OSI
Fire Make Thunder


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
March 27th, 2012 | 61 replies | 13,281 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After three previous attempts that failed to live up to the high standards placed on Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore by fans, Fire Make Thunder actually comes really damn close.

OSI’s debut album was most likely more renowned for the members that participated than for the music that was contained within, and it’s not hard to see why. That debut brought together the songwriting skills of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex-Dream Theater), and featured an all-star supporting cast. It had Sean Malone (Cynic) on bass, guest vocals from Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and it was the first album to feature Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy playing together since Awake. The problem with OSI’s debut was that it failed to live up to expectations – an issue that each subsequent release has also suffered from. One of the main problems has always been that Jim and Kevin have never really been able to blend their individual styles into one homogenous sound; instead individual sections were easily attributed to one member or the other. Also, the duo’s (often) lethargic approach to song tempos really tended to bog down their albums. After three albums of trial-and-error, though, it appears that the fourth try will almost be the charm.

For the first time in the band’s history, the songs are a near-seamless blend of Jim Matheos’ riffs and arrangements in Fates Warning with Kevin Moore’s electronics and keyboard prowess in Chroma Key. What’s more, each member finally seems to bringing their A-game to the project. Jim Matheos’ riffs have brought the band an attitude and swagger that was largely missing from previous releases. They’re heavier, more energetic and compliment the electronic elements better than they ever have. Even the mellower sections benefit from Jim’s renewed vigor (as first witnessed on his Arch / Matheos project). His melodies are dark and moody and simply seem to wrap themselves around the layers of synth that dominate each song. Kevin Moore is also firing on all cylinders again. On Fire Make Thunder he has returned to the experimental sounds that made the first two OSI releases as good as they were.

The biggest improvement, though, comes from the increased diversity found throughout the album. There are obviously still archetypical OSI tracks such as album-opener “Cold Call” with its mid-tempo delivery, electronic backing, simple riffs and chill vocal delivery, but there are a few surprises too. One such surprise is the album’s second track, “Guards”. It features a looped, energetic drum beat, funky bass and a few of those excellently aggressive, yet proggy, riffs that Jim has just been belting out for all of his projects lately. As a whole, the album definitely has more peaks and valleys when it comes to tempos and moods. Even the slower numbers, often the detriment of previous albums, have benefited from a much more refined blend of each artist’s individual style. These songs generally take on much darker atmosphere than previous releases and are much more memorable due to excellent interplay between Jim’s moody guitar melodies and Kevin’s layers of synth.

It’s quite possible that OSI will never live up to baseless fan expectations, because those desires might very well be outside the guidelines set by the members themselves. What is certain, though, is that Fire Make Thunder is OSI’s first album to even come close to achieving a lot of the objectives that were previously deficient. A lot of the songs on this release finally contain a swagger and bite that had almost never been previously present. Also, there’s an increased range of diversity and moods throughout Fire Make Thunder’s runtime which allows the chill, laid back moments to remain enjoyable instead of simply bogging down the pacing. The element that brings all of this together is the seamless blending of progressive metal ideas with moody, electronic components. After four albums, it can finally be said that Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore have perfected the OSI formula and that Fire Make Thunder is their first truly excellent album.



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Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
ThroneOfAgony
March 27th 2012



3485 Comments


Awesome. This band is truly incredible

CaptainDooRight
March 27th 2012



28297 Comments


cool will check




Digging: IQ - The Road of Bones

Willie
Moderator
March 27th 2012



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is really cool. Just remember that there are a lot of chill parts, but they're a lot better than they used to be.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

AsoTamaki
March 27th 2012



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Are the chill parts better? "Indian Curse" is amazing, but "For Nothing" might be the only OSI song that I've ever actively disliked. Gotta listen to that one a few more times...

Not sure why you like this album so much more, but whatever. Great album as usual. Definitely a step up from Blood as I'm already enjoying it a bit more. Better than the first two? Time will tell, I suppose. In the end, I don't think this will really bring in any new fans nor alienate any of the current ones. It's not all that different from what they've always been doing.

Oh, and the run time is a little on the short side.

Det_Nosnip
March 27th 2012



374 Comments


*shrug* I liked Blood a lot, I wouldn't say that it failed to live up to my expectations, but I was never a Fates
Warning/Dream Theater fan so I guess I went in with little preconceptions (other than the fact that Gavin Harrison is one
of my favorite drummers).

Will check this out soon!

W477ZY
March 27th 2012



67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review, awesome album. Sympathetic Resonance was insanely good too. Fuck yeah Jim Matheos!

Jethro42
March 27th 2012



12351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I want that album.

Willie
Moderator
March 27th 2012



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not sure why you like this album so much more, but whatever.
Read the review. I pretty much spell it out for you ;)

In the end, I don't think this will really bring in any new fans nor alienate any of the current ones. It's not all that different from what they've always been doing.
Not different enough to bring in new fans, but definitely different enough for old fans to pick up on. I love the riffs on this one compared to the older material, and the electronics blend so much better than before.

I liked Blood a lot, I wouldn't say that it failed to live up to my expectations, but I was never a Fates Warning/Dream Theater fan so I guess I went in with little preconceptions (other than the fact that Gavin Harrison is one of my favorite drummers).
I liked Blood too, but it just felt half-assed compared to their main bands and even the first two OSI albums.

W477ZY
March 27th 2012



67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Blood had some good stand-out tracks but the rest was ultimately "skippable". Whereas with
this album I would be hard pressed to skip over any track except maybe Enemy Prayer because
instrumentals always get a little boring.

Also, "Run time is a little on the short side" x2

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2012



5899 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Apt review, although I beg to differ about the quality of the previous three OSI albums.

However, listening to this one might make me reconsider somehow.

Digging: The Golden Grass - The Golden Grass

Willie
Moderator
March 28th 2012



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you look at my ratings (and review of Blood), I felt that way about the other albums even before this one.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2012



5899 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes I know Trey ;-)

No worries mate, it's just that I recently listened to all previous OSI albums and found them where I have left them, in terms of my first and personal quality assessment.

Can't wait to pick this up in physical format, 2012 has so many good releases already.

deathofasalesman
March 28th 2012



5809 Comments


Who's better? OSI or OST?

Parallels
March 28th 2012



6640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Excited as hell for this to come out already

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2012



7305 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've always found the duo's trip hop-infused prog tepid and boring. I might check this out though. Excellent review sir.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

scissorlocked
March 28th 2012



3508 Comments


I've left these guys at Free, which was good but kinda half-baked

Moore is one of my favorite musicians though, will give it a listen soon



Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

Willie
Moderator
March 28th 2012



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Who's better? OSI or OST?
OSI -- finally ;)

I've always found the duo's trip hop-infused prog tepid and boring.
Trip hop? Are we listening to the same band? There's definitely a prominent electronic element, but nothing that could be really called trip hop.

I've left these guys at Free, which was good but kinda half-baked

Moore is one of my favorite musicians though, will give it a listen soon
This is the best of the four albums, so you might get into it.

AsoTamaki
March 28th 2012



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol, trip-hop. I guess there are things in common with or elements of chillout/downtempo which some people (incorrectly) use interchangeably with trip-hop.

Read the review.

Hahaha, I knew you were going to say that. But nah, what I meant was more along the lines of "not sure why you feel that way about the previous albums." For example, I don't see how this is any more diverse than the first one especially. I get the same general atmosphere from most of it as well, no new moods. The one area I agree there's been a clear improvement in is with Matheos' riffs. The heavier parts do seem to have more intensity behind them. Some of that's the drumming too. Great stuff.

zxlkho
March 28th 2012



3460 Comments


Yeah this is a pretty good album.

iambandersnatch
March 28th 2012



1464 Comments


Always wanted to get into these guys cuz I like chill music but it was never quite interesting enough to warrant more than a 2.5-3 "hmm.. ok" interest. Glad to see they may have finally arrived.



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