by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

OSI - Free
(InsideOut Music)

Chucking all blather, first off, for whatever reason, this is my most-oft played album of the past four weeks. I'd say one reason is the giddy catchiness of the bass riff on opener Sure You Will as well as Kevin Moore's hypnotic "I did it my way on the highway" refrain. What a crazy, happy driving anthem. Then the title track blasts in with another rhythm section-focused wellspring of well wishes and for some reason, I wanna revisit and make mine Jelly Jam, and not OSI's masterpiece of a debut, a record way more traditional than this flavourful oddity. OSI is a triad bounced around by the aforementioned Moore, plus Jim Matheos from Fates Warning and Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater. But for all time, Chroma Key's Graveyard Mountain Home (one of my favourite albums of all time - two, three years or whatever later, I still play it two, three times a WEEK), has made Moore like a Roger Waters-level rock god in this house, and OSI is really so great because of him - a bit because of his futuristic keyboarding (check out the solo in Go), but mainly because of his amoral vocals. Unfortunately, fans from the metal persuasion might find this a little too Gary Numan-meets-Radiohead android trippy, but damn, I just love the way the guitars fit so well and the production is so optically fishbowled and then Kevin is just so Alan Parsons Eye In The Sky detached, like he's floating over the percolation of these fine drip songs.
Rating 9

Angel Blake - Angel Blake
(Metal Blade)

Cool to see another side to - and a whole heap of talent from - The Crown's Marko Tervonen, who writes and plays everything on this solo vehicle, proving also his good ear in knowing his limitations by hiring a vocalist to make his songs blossom - none other that ex Transport League-er Tony Jelencovich. Nice choice, for Tony adds a passionate rock voice to songs that benefit greatly from it, Marko writing sort of like fussy Sentenced, or heavy Gathering, less brutish Paradise Lost, or Amorphis buffed up by Bob Rock. Dan Swano's Nightingale also comes to mind, given the intimate project situation here. Later on, there's a bit of dark new wave to the proceedings, Marko and Tony taking us on a trip that feels deliciously like the bleak line drawings of the classy booklet, the melodies enclosed sounding both cozily, gauzily stadium rock well-wishing and simultaneously, Northern and folky like Finntroll. The adept tugging of the listener's emotions makes Angel Blake epic in a number of ways, Tony's confident singing style further delivering the discerning metalhead to dramatic naturescapes.
Rating 8.5

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