"I’m too sacred for the sinners/And the saints wish I would leave." - Mark Heard
Monday, September 10, 2012
Review - OSI - Fire Make Thunder
Sheesh! How many times did I have to say the name of the album in this review?
The debut album by OSI sent me to the moon. The second one jump started my car. The third release stalled out. Which is why I refused to get my hopes up for Fire Make Thunder, the bands forth musical collection. Lowering my expectations has allowed me to increase my enjoyment. How’s THAT for a ringing endorsement?
Actually Fire Make Thunder is pretty durn good. While not as bursting with ideas as the first album, the boys in the band have settled into a nice, comfortable groove and are exploring their territory. These “boys” are merely Jim Matheos, formerly of Fates Warning, Kevin Moore, formerly of Dream Theater, and Gavin Harrison, non-formerly of Porcupine Tree. Despite their progressive lineage the band sidesteps the usual pitfalls of the genre. Sure, Matheos provides some angular rhythms but these are offset by Moore’s organic sounding synth tones. And therein lies their sound – gruff, dark, almost industrial metal guitar tempered with natural tones and Moore’s laid-back, melancholy vocals.
Unlike their last album, Fire Make Thunder has a nice mix of aggressive and softer songs. “Big Chief II” and “Enemy Prayer” are both filled with the kind of furious guitar riffs and judicious yet impressive drumming that make young men dream of starting a band. Contrasting is the laconic “Indian Curse” with its acoustic guitar and woodwinds and “For Nothing” which could be an extra track off Moore’s excellent Graveyard Mountain Home. As on their previous albums, few of the tracks are straightforward in design or tone. Massive walls of guitar give way to quiet passages of dripping, echoing keyboard sounds without warning. Except now, I suppose, you’ve been warned. Those who like their vocals screamed and dislike Moore’s soft delivery should take heart that most of songs are instrumental in nature with only brief passages of vocals. For example, less than two minutes out of seven in the first track contains vocals. Of special local interest is “Cold Call” which is built around a radio broadcast by our own Bob Chase, identifying WOWO and “the Fort Wayne area” as they experience what turns out to be a false alarm from the Emergency Network.
Fire Make Thunder took a few listens but it’s growing on me. It’s a much better album, both in terms of dynamics and songwriting, than the previous album and is probably on par with the second. There are some nice skull-crushing heavy bits and some lighter-than-air gossamer bits and somehow OSI manages to pull it all together to form just the kind of genre-defying music that is sure to alienate most everyone.