OSI – Fire Make Thunder

promo by MelissaSepanic

Returning with their fourth release the impressive project OSI of duo Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos) and Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, former Dream Theater keyboardist), have produced an album that eagerly sweeps one up within its inspired arms. Fire Make Thunder is a wonderful series of soundscapes made up of distinctly expressive and varied ingenuity that treats the senses to adventures offering calm caresses right through to high energy escapades. Thoughtful and beautifully crafted the release without making startlingly new declarations of barrier cracking enterprise is a gracefully enveloping and emotionally energising series of compositions from two of the most creative musicians and song writers in progressive rock and metal.

Formed in 2002 OSI is a musical relationship between the two members that produces fine creative music from long distance. Fire Make Thunder itself written and recorded individually by Matheos and Moore in their respective studios with ideas and the songs being sent back and forth. The album also features the returning band session drummer Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree who brought his contributions to the release, including co-writing one track, from his personal studio too. The album was created throughout 2011 with final mixing completed alongside engineer Matt Sepanic at Sound Farm Studio and Recording Environment and mastering handled by renowned engineer Roger Siebel. It is hard to imagine the difficulties of recording apart but as with their previous releases, Fire Make Thunder shows no sign of it being a problem, the album a seamless and perfectly flowing musical lake for the ear and senses to immerse deeply within.

Released via Metal Blade Records the album starts with its best two songs in ‘Cold Call’ and ‘Guards’. The opener starts with a sampled news report which comes in throughout the track from an EBS news report in the 70’s where reports of a nuclear attack were announced before finding out it was a false alarm. With the industrial toned consuming sounds surrounding it and the starkness and chilled ambience that builds the beginning plays like an aural version of the movie Right At Your Door. Though this was not the intention of OSI and the sample used just because it sounded good, this ominous feel is a powerful wave. Eventually it explodes into forceful riffs and intense power though throughout the song retains a restraint and glowing beauty within this bulging heavier sound, the smooth distinct vocals of Moore as expressive and gently persuasive as the melodies surrounding him. The pair has an intelligent use and touch with intense sounds and flowing ambience, merging them perfectly with neither threatening to overpower the other.

Guards’ has an electro feel throbbing within its walls, a pulsating vein that resonates between the striking guitars, hypnotic rhythms, and mesmeric vocals. The meaty riffs swagger with a confident attitude whilst the electronic spots and tender touches bedazzle like a sonic kaleidoscope throughout the song’s boastful dance with the ear. Both these songs are OSI at their height and instantly pull one into the album allowing the following songs to be more adventurous and intimate if less accessible from the off. With music that is progressive rock, metal, and simply pure rock ‘n’ roll fused into a stunning maelstrom of atmosphere and sound, Fire Make Thunder is never less than engaging and for the whole totally infectious.

Though as stated the album starts with its best songs the remaining tracks are no less impressive or satisfying. From the ambient warmth of ‘Indian Curse’ and the excellent robust metal instrumental ‘Enemy Prayer’ through to the electronic driven industrial toned strength of ‘Big Chief II’, sounding Nine Inch Nails/Deftones like and the majestic crystal radiance of ‘Invisible Men’, the album is a fully enveloping masterpiece.

Fire Make Thunder is a real and thoroughly fulfilling joy. It is unassuming yet at the same time seeks and fills every corner of the senses with stirring and pleasing sounds.  OSO have set a marker for not only progressive metal but many genres with their new album, time will tell if anyone is up to the challenge.

Ringmaster 26/03/2012

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Absolace – Fractals

In the midst of some extremely high quality and high intensity releases so far this year the new album from rock band Absolace is a refreshing and stirring side step. A cultured impassioned album, Fractals works its way deep within senses with an emotive mix of boisterous riffs, melancholic atmospheres, and melodies that court thoughts and the heart equally. The band has created a thoughtful album that plays with its listeners own thoughts, the inspiring energies and emotions as well as ideas within the lyrical content provocative and deeply satisfying.

Absolace are a quartet from the United Arab Emirates who since 2008 have shown a craft and accomplished musicianship that defies anything but acclaim. Their debut album Resolve[d] in 2010 brought them to the attention of media and fans across the Middle East but not yet to the level they deserve elsewhere. Fractals should correct that, the release a defined progression and more mature  album to their first that sets the band as one of the more exciting and impressive bands around. The Dubai foursome of vocalist Nadim Jamal, guitarist Jack Skinner, bassist Ben Harris, and drummer Greg Cargopoulos have opened for the likes of Anathema and 30 Seconds to Mars as well as making appearances at festivals like the Peace One Day Live Festival and the Formula 1 Festival in Abu Dhabi. With a sound that recalls the likes of Tool, Karnivool, Porcupine Tree, and Sunna, their music has a beauty and grace that sweeps one up inside. It is fair to say it does not rile up the emotions to excitable levels of say a August Burns Red or Beneath The Buried And Me but instead Absolace work with a more tender and personal connection to its recipient, each song and piece of sound, certainly on Fractals, a deeply touching and satisfying experience to immerse within.

The opening Sirens is an impactful example of what Absolace is all about. The song offers punchy rhythms, testosterone lined riffs, and a bass line on a formidable prowl that veins the track wonderfully, whilst continually well crafted melodies and passions envelope the ear and beyond, the full sound searching the depths of heart and mind. Beautifully crafted and elegantly delivered the song is just the forerunner of nine more equally majestic songs.

The likes of The Rise, Wade 2.0, and The Fall all enrapture with a haunting majesty and stunning beauty, the first of the three a textured tapestry to fall wholly involved with whilst the third is a dynamic song that glides from peaceful glory through to a more muscular stirring, a near raucous treat to recharge the energies within. There is not a moment where the album does not light up the senses, the band masterful and immense whether stirring up the pulse rate with defined urgent rhythms and athletic eager riffs or captivating with soul filling melodies and atmospheric ambient laced class.

If there can be highlights in an album that is one whole highlight it is the wonderful I Am, So I Will a song with chunky riffs, growling guitars and an irresistibility catchy groove, and the outstanding Chroma Mera, a song that takes one through many avenues, all mesmeric and all revelling in beauty. The songs, as is the whole of Fractals, are infectious. Not in the usual instantaneous way but through a continual creative wash that immerses one in to delightful and ingeniously imaginative sounds.

Fractals is as mentioned just beautiful, there is no better word for its powerful and deeply impressive invention. Mixed  by Josh William at JFW Music and Sound, the album is an essential listen for anyone who appreciates well crafted and heart inspired music. Absolace may not have been on the radar of many before now but Fractals will soon change that, the album the evidence that the band and rock music has just gone up many levels.

RingMaster 23/03/2012

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