OSI’s Fire Make Thunder is a prog record for people who typically don’t like prog records.
OSI is the collaboration between Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, Dream Theater). The band formed in 2002 and is considered a long-distance partnership. Writing and recording is done along and music is sent back and forth for collaboration via the channels allowed by glorious modern technology.
Fire Make Thunder is OSI’s fourth album and it features Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison in the mix as well. The album was written throughout 2011 and both Matheos and Moore handled instrumental duties throughout recording, with Moore tasked with vocals and lyrics as well.
Make no mistake about it, Fire Make Thunder boasts all the regalia of progressive rock and prog metal. The arrangements are less orthodox in the face of standard metal records, while the use of programming makes for some enthralling soundscapes. At the same time, though, OSI seems to prefer leaner, meaner song construction and that provides for a more forceful, impactful album.
Interestingly, OSI seems to have gotten its name from the Office of Strategic Influence. This was an American government agency formed in an effort to propagandize the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks.
Fire Make Thunder doesn’t seem to shy away from those sorts of themes, commencing with a word from an emergency broadcast system and some speaker-testing sound. “Cold Call” powers into play with a massive chunk of guitar and Moore’s vocals. The track sounds an awful lot like a Tool piece, with Moore’s singing sitting somewhat back in the mix and hearty guitar knocking paintings off of walls everywhere. It’s a crush of sound that brings the thunder in commanding breakers of sound.
The riff-heavy journey continues through the technically glorious “Guards” and into an acoustic-minded “Indian Curse” that wraps ethereal atmosphere around everything.
Fire Make Thunder works wonders through its mixing of countless tones, constructing a complete vision of insecurity, uncertainty and loss. The record accumulates moments and memories, like the beautiful “For Nothing,” and transitions them into encrusted tendencies and rougher grains (“Invisible Men”). All the while, OSI pushes on and tests the limits, technical and cerebral, of progressive rock.