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OSI (band)

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Free album.
Free album.
Background information
OriginUnited States
GenresProgressive rock, progressive metal, industrial metal
Years active2002–present (hiatus)
LabelsInsideOut Music, Metal Blade
Associated actsChroma Key, Dream Theater, Fates Warning
MembersJim Matheos
Kevin Moore
Past membersMike Portnoy

OSI is an American progressive rock band, originally formed by Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos in 2002. Chroma Key keyboardist and vocalist Kevin Moore is the only other full-time member of the band. The collaboration may be considered a studio project, as its members and contributors write and track most of their material independently, sharing and developing tracks long-distance, only coming together at the end of the process for mixing and additional tracking. The band's name is a reference to the Office of Strategic Influence, a short-lived American government agency formed in 2001 to support the War on Terror through propaganda. The band has featured a number of guest musicians on its albums, including Sean Malone, Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Joey Vera and Gavin Harrison.

Matheos recruited Moore, Dream Theater's then-drummer Mike Portnoy, and Sean Malone (Fretless Bass and Chapman Stickist) to perform on what was originally planned to be a Matheos solo album. Matheos and Portnoy originally planned to produce a progressive metal album similar to Matheos' work in Fates Warning, however Moore's impact changed the music's direction and genre, incorporating electronica into the original progressive metal sound. The band's debut album was released by InsideOut Music in 2003.

OSI was originally intended to be a one-off project, but Matheos and Moore found they both had gaps in their schedules so produced a follow-up. Free was released in 2006, with Portnoy returning to play drums as a session musician rather than a full band member, due to personal and musical differences between him and Moore. Blood was released in 2009, with Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison replacing Portnoy. The fourth album Fire Make Thunder was released in 2012 by Metal Blade Records, with Harrison once again on drums.


Jim Matheos, founder of OSI

Formation and Office of Strategic Influence (2002–2003)[edit]

Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos originally intended to create a progressive metal supergroup while Fates Warning went on hiatus. He recruited Cynic & Gordian Knot fretless bass and Chapman Stickist Sean Malone and then-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy to work on the project.[1][2][3] Matheos then asked Chroma Key and ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore to contribute by adding keyboard arrangements to the music he had written. Moore instead heavily edited the music, changing the song structures and adding vocals.[4] Matheos decided to pursue this new direction, sounding closer to Chroma Key than standard progressive metal, over his and Portnoy's original idea.[1][3]

Many vocalists were considered to perform on the album; Matheos and Portnoy briefly considered having a different vocalist perform on each track.[1] Daniel Gildenlöw of Pain of Salvation wrote some vocal melodies and lyrics, but Moore ultimately performed most of the vocals and wrote most of the lyrics.[1][5] Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree wrote lyrics and performed vocals on one track.[3] Cynic and Gordian Knot bassist Sean Malone performed bass, but was credited as a guest musician because his schedule meant he was unable to join Matheos, Moore and Portnoy for the basic tracking sessions.[1]

Matheos, Moore and Portnoy recorded the album at Carriage House Studios in Stamford, Connecticut from June 2 to June 9, 2002.[6] Songs with a strong progressive metal influence were mostly written by Matheos, while Moore had greater influence over the vocal-driven tracks. Portnoy made minor arrangement suggestions but did not take part in the actual writing of the album.[1] The album's recording sessions were the first time Moore and Portnoy collaborated since 1994 in their work in Dream Theater.[1] In 2009, Portnoy recalled that he found the experience of making the record difficult, and that he was frustrated by the lack of collaboration between him and Moore.[7] Differences between Moore and Portnoy led to his return on the follow-up album as a session drummer rather than full-time member.

InsideOut Music released Office of Strategic Influence on February 17, 2003.[8] Moore chose the group's name and album's title, referring to the Office of Strategic Influence, established by the US Government after the September 11 attacks to spread propaganda.[4] The album was critically well received. Critics praised the members' musicianship and the fact that the album differed significantly from the members' other projects.[9][10][11][12]

Free and Blood (2005–2009)[edit]

Kevin Moore in 2007

Matheos and Moore did not plan to make a second OSI album, and returned to their own projects after the first album's completion. In 2005, they both had free schedules, so decided to produce a follow-up album. Joey Vera (also of Fates Warning) played bass on the album.[13] Portnoy originally told Matheos and Moore that he did not want to perform drums on the album, but was persuaded to perform on the album as a session musician.[7]

Free was released on April 24, 2006,[14] receiving generally positive critical reception. Critics noted that the album was darker and more keyboard-focused than the band's debut.[15][16] re:free, an EP featuring remixes of three tracks from Free, was released on October 24, 2006.[17] The band were keen to tour in support of Free, but no live shows materialised. "The reality of it is in order to [tour] the way we would like... and present it the way we would want to present it... would cost too much money for the kind of fan base that we have right now," Matheos said in 2009.[18] In 2010 he anticipated that OSI will "remain a studio band."[19]

In September 2008, Moore posted an update on the Chroma Key website, stating that he and Matheos had been working on a third OSI album for several months. Portnoy was replaced by Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison and Matheos played bass on the album.[20] Opeth vocalist and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt and No-Man vocalist Tim Bowness wrote lyrics and sang on one track each.[21][22]

Blood was released on April 27, 2009 in Europe and May 19 in North America.[23] The album received positive reviews:[24][25] Andrew Reilly of Madeloud said that "with Blood the two have finally found the stylistic fusion their first two discs hinted at",[26] and praised Harrison's drumming.[26]

Fire Make Thunder (2010–2012)[edit]

In 2010, OSI signed with Metal Blade Records.[27] The label reissued Office of Strategic Influence on September 28, 2010.[28]

Written and recorded throughout most of 2011, OSI's fourth album "Fire Make Thunder" was released on March 27, 2012.[29] Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree was once again enlisted as session drummer along with a co-writing credit for the song "Enemy Prayer". All other instruments and programming were performed by Matheos and Moore, while lyrics and vocals were handled exclusively by Moore. The recordings for the album, with the exception of drums, were performed at the musician's respective home studio. In July 2011 at Sound Farm Studio & Recording Environment final overdubs as well as some additional writing and arranging were completed. The band mixed the album alongside engineer Matt Sepanic. Engineer Roger Siebel handled the final mastering. The record was produced by both Moore and Matheos.[30] During the development process, Kevin Moore kept frequent updates referring to the mixing process of the album on his official Facebook and Twitter accounts.[31]

Hiatus (2013-Present)[edit]

On the current status of O.S.I., co-founder and lead guitarist Jim Matheos offered the following quote in a June 2016 interview about the possibility of a future album, "No, as I just said it’s the same situation with John. Kevin and I are both busy doing other things. I believe Kevin is experimenting and working on some Chroma Key material right now, so who knows… In the future I would love to do it and if it happens that’s great, but there are no plans right now. My main focus for at least the rest of this year and probably next year is going to be Fates Warning."[32]

Musical style[edit]

Moore has described OSI's sound as "a new approach to progressive rock",[33] combining elements of progressive metal and electronica.[21] Moore considers the two genres to be "almost natural enemies",[21] and that the conflict between the two genres "keeps [the music] interesting".[21] Matheos cites progressive rock and heavy metal bands such as Genesis, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and UFO as influences.[3] Moore described his influences as minimal techno, experimental, electronic musicians and "bands that play live and then chop it up".[4]

Matheos and Moore primarily work alone, exchanging files and ideas by email.[18] The writing process for all OSI's albums has been the same, with Matheos sending Moore an idea "from just a guitar riff to elaborate, almost completed songs",[22] which Moore then edits and sends back to Matheos.[22] Moore, the band's vocalist and lyricist, has described the process of writing lyrics as an "audio Rorschach test".[34] The lyrics on Office of Strategic Influence feature political themes, but the lyrics on later releases are less political, instead being based on Moore's personal experiences. "I'll start writing a song that has a little bit of a world view or political view or something," he said, "but then by the time I'm finished the lyrics it'll be about a relationship or something like that."[21] On Blood, Moore largely abandoned his earlier stream-of-consciousness approach to writing lyrics, in an attempt to make the lyrics more coherent. "I didn't want it to be like 'Oh, you get your own impression of the lyrics. Everybody has their own idea!' I wanted to have an idea that I wanted to communicate, and something communicable," he explained.[34]

Moore has acknowledged the narrow range of his vocals. He considers his vocal style to "[come] from how I feel when I’m singing, when I'm in the zone of writing lyrics and recording which, a lot of times, comes as the same time. It's sort of an introspective time. A lot of the material lends itself to that kind of voice and that kind of spirit."[21]


Current members
Former members
Guest musicians


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
US Heat
US Ind
Office of Strategic Influence
  • Released: February 17, 2003
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, cassette, digital download[39]
31 149 92
  • Released: April 21, 2006
  • Label: Metal Blade Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download[40]
  • Released: April 27, 2009
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download[41]
Fire Make Thunder
  • Released: March 27, 2012
  • Label: Metal Blade Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download, vinyl[42]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Portnoy, Mike. "mp.faq – OSI". Mike Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  2. ^ Wilson, Rich (2009). Lifting Shadows: The Authorized Biography of Dream Theater. London: Essential Works. pp. 416–423. ISBN 978-1-906615-02-4.
  3. ^ a b c d Italiani, Igor. "Hello, Guitarist!: A Discussion On The New Matheos Project (What He Said)". Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  4. ^ a b c Legerton, Colin. "Interview with Kevin Moore (O.S.I./Chroma Key)". Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  5. ^ "Daniel Gildenlöw comments on Matheos / Portnoy / Moore / Malone project". Dream Theater – Official Site. Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
  6. ^ "Studio Photos: Jim Matheos, Mike Portnoy, Kevin Moore". Dream Theater – Official Site. Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  7. ^ a b McGrath, Ken (2009-05-06). "DREAM THEATER's MIKE PORTNOY: 'Working With KEVIN MOORE Is Just Not Much Fun'". Archived from the original on 2009-05-10. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  8. ^ "OSI: Office of Strategic Influence". InsideOut Music. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  9. ^ Gordon, Keith A. "OSI — Office of Strategic Influence". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  10. ^ Sander, Ed. "OSI — Office of Strategic Influence review". DPRP. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  11. ^ Hash, Tommy. "OSI — Office of Strategic Influence review". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2010-01-15.
  12. ^ Bollenberg, John. "O.S.I. – Office Of Strategic Influence (Limited Edition) review". Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  13. ^ LaRose, Michelle. "OSI Interview". Caustic Truths. Archived from the original on 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  14. ^ "OSI: Free". InsideOut Music. Archived from the original on 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  15. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Free". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  16. ^ Bower, Chad. "OSI – Free Review". Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  17. ^ "Free (Extended Mixes)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  18. ^ a b Falina, Melanie (2009-05-17). "Blood At The Crossroads – An Interview with Jim Matheos of O.S.I." Nonelouder. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  19. ^ "Интервю с Jim Matheos". Metal Katehizis (in Bulgarian). Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  20. ^ Moore, Kevin (2008-09-04). "OSI III". Chroma Key – News. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Perri, David (2009-05-14). "OSI – "Almost Natural Enemies…"". Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  22. ^ a b c Marsicano, Dan (2009-05-26). "OSI Interview: A Conversation With Vocalist/Keyboardist Kevin Moore". Archived from the original on 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  23. ^ "OSI: Blood Special Edition". InsideOut Music. Archived from the original on 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  24. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Blood". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  25. ^ Dodge, Marty (2009-05-22). "Music Reviews: White Lion, Moody Blues, Hardline, OSI, Joe Lynn Turner – Page 2". Blogcritics. Archived from the original on 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  26. ^ a b Reilly, Andrew (2009-06-05). "OSI – Blood | Underground Band Reviews". MadeLoud. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  27. ^ "OSI signed with Metal Blade Records!". Metal Blade Records. 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  28. ^ "Metal Blade Records set to release OSI's 2003 release OFFICE OF STRATEGIC INFLUENCE this September!". Metal Blade Records. 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  29. ^ "OSI | Fire Make Thunder". Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  30. ^ Aniruddh Bansal (2012-02-16). "Former DREAM THEATER Keyboardist KEVIN MOORE Discusses New OSI Album In Audio Interview". Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  31. ^ "New Facebook page and Twitter feed". Shine by Kevin Moore Official Website - News. 2011-03-20. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  32. ^ "Fates Warning (Jim Matheos)". Interview by Chris Karadimitris and Nikos Katapidis - News. 2016-06-15. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  33. ^ Yoni. "Interview with Kevin Moore – OSI". RevelationZ Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  34. ^ a b Reilly, Andrew (2009-05-19). "MadeLoud Interview: Jim Matheos and Kevin Moore of OSI". MadeLoud. Archived from the original on 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  35. ^ a b "OSI: 'Fire Make Thunder' First-Week Sales Revealed". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  36. ^ "OSI Billboard Chart History". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  37. ^ "OSI French Albums Chart". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  38. ^ "OSI German Albums Chart". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  39. ^ "Office of Strategic Influence OSI". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  40. ^ "Free OSI". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  41. ^ "Blood OSI". Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  42. ^ "Fire Make Thunder OSI". Retrieved July 22, 2014.

External links[edit]