OSI – Free

Prog rock supergroups are generally consistent in two ways. First, they are bound to create a level of excitement for the fans of whatever artists involved, and second, they almost always disappoint. While jazz ‘super’ groups work because that style is focused on the musicianship and skill of the members, it’s rare that a group of established musicians will put a great deal of effort or ambition into a project that isn’t part of their ‘flagship’ band. Regardless, OSI has proven itself to be more than a one-off venture. Leading this group is keyboardist Kevin Moore, who most will know for his tenure in the ‘classic’ lineup of Dream Theater, although he has kept himself busy since leaving, be it through his solo work with Chroma Key, or his keyboard contributions to Fates Warning. Joining him from Fates Warning is guitarist Jim Matheos and bassist Joey Vera. Add now-former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy into the mix and you have a group that’s bound to get progressive metallers around the world excited. But does OSI pay off the fans’ anticipation?

‘Free’ is the second album coming from the OSI project, and readily evident in each song here is the declaration that this is a separate entity from any of the band member’s other work or ‘best known’ bands. The closest thing this might come to is Kevin Moore’s Chroma Key, although OSI brings in a metal element. At its core, this is atmospheric hard rock, complete with chunky riffs, catchy vocal hooks, and plenty of electronic ambiance to make things more interesting. Although it may have been different on OSI’s first album, ‘Free’ is a very keyboard-driven effort, and considering that Kevin Moore is also doing the vocal work, it’s clear who the star of the show is from track one onwards. From a perspective of songwriting, these songs are fairly easy to digest, but certainly enjoyable. Kevin Moore’s voice leans towards the warm-yet-not-technically-skilled spectrum of singers, and this works with the fairly straightforward style that OSI is going for here.

The production gives OSI a sound that’s comparable to Porcupine Tree, and though there is little to startle a seasoned prog listener here, the rich and professional recording gives this collection of songs a perfect frame. Moore’s approach here is personal and sincere, although the one-sided nature of the album tends to hurt the album’s lasting effect. Although OSI may take the listener through harder rocking tunes and softer ballads alike, the emotional resonance feels the same throughout this album, and as such, it makes an already accessible album all the less of a challenge. To answer the question I posed; yes, OSI does deliver something new for fans of Dream Theater and Fates Warning, but the enjoyment sadly shrinks once a listener gains familiarity with the work. Kevin Moore delivers a fine performance on ‘Free’, but this brevity could have been offset by a more band-based experience. Although there is a full cast of musicians here, the limelight is shed on ambient electronic-based rock tunes, and the rest of the artists fail to get the degree of exposure here that their fans might have been expected.


1. Sure You Will (3:46)
2. Free (3:28)
3. Go (4:16)
4. All Gone Now (5:15)
5. Home Was Good (5:04)
6. Bigger Wave (4:33)
7. Kicking (3:54)
8. Better (4:06)
9. Simple Life (4:00)
10. Once (6:38)
11. Our Town (3:21)


* Jim Matheos – guitars, keyboards & programming
* Kevin Moore – vocals, keyboards & programming

With performances by:
* Mike Portnoy / acoustic drums
* Joey Vera – bass (1, 2, 4, 6 & 7)

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