Debut Album Reception

The debut album of Office of Strategic Influence, titled the same as the band name, was very well received by general music lovers and critics, after its release on February 18, 2003. Allmusic’s Keith Gordon showered praises on the album, calling it an apt creation offering both pomp as well as power. Prog4you.com’s Tommy Hash termed its music as being catchy and complete with excellent musicianship and melodies, without going overboard. He considered the album as completely different from the works of the parent bands of the artists. ProgressiveWorld.net’s John Bollenberg praised the album stating that Portnoy and Moore had made a new beginning from scratch, without carrying any influences of Dream Theater, and delivered something exciting and fresh.

Hash further described the OSI debut album as Fates Warning fused with mid-90s music, and further mixed with industrial sounds to create a highly ambient effect.

Gordon on the other hand described its music quite similar to the likes of Max Vague, King Crimson and Pink Floyd. He described the artists’ performances as full of passion and electricity. In his opinion, Matheos was a typical guitar hero, like Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai. He termed Fates Warning front man’s performances being evident of chaotic metal riffing and classic style acoustic craftsmanship, all present in the same songs. He also heaped praises on Portnoy and Malone for keeping things in perspective with rock-solid rhythms. In fact, some of the bass parts played by Malone reminded Ed Sanders (DPRP) of the kinds heard in the psychedelic rock band Ozric Tentacles’ songs. Despite mentioning that Portnoy often sticks to simple drumming, he commended him for his usage of ethnic percussions for providing the debut album with an original twist.

Bollenberg stated that the music of Office of Strategic Influence came very close to the kind of work that Kevin Moore did in Chroma Key, but with effects same as that of Porcupine Tree of the recent times. In his opinion, there were bits and pieces throughout the album that could have easily been fitted into ‘In Absentia’!

DPRP’s Ed Sander also compared the sound of the album to Porcupine Tree’s, stating that the album had the same kind of dreaminess as some of the earlier works of Porcupine Tree; the aggressive riff approach evident in Porcupine tracks like ‘Wedding Nails’, ‘Signify’ and ‘Up the Downstair’; and other Porcupine Tree elements such as catchy bass parts and distorted vocals. In his opinion, the OSI debut album’s music was more on the lines of catchy dark riffs, rather than self-indulging keyboard or guitar solos.

Talking about Kevin Moore, Gordon stated that the keyboardist provided an apt instrumental counterpoint to the raging guitar work of Matheos. His natural skills and imaginative style delivered a wide range of sounds, providing an amazing ambient effect. Sanders on the other hand, took note of Kevin’s contribution stating that at times there is more to electronics and technology, than is seen in any average houses release!. Bollenberg commended Moore’s keyboard work by adding that his semi-industrial patches and flirting with textures, brought the album’s music quite close to Nine Inch Nails, than simply treading the same path as vintage melodic progressive metal. Hash heaped praises on Kevin’s vocals, stating that they fitted in very well with the instrumental textures.