No one can deny the technical prowess of Mike Portnoy, but song after song of showing you how impressive his skills are (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment) becomes uninteresting after a while. Don’t get me wrong, both are great bands and Mike Portnoy is one of the few drummers with the mad skills to keep up with those acts, but they can become masturbatory after a while. But now Mike is all grown up. Truly.
In this O.S.I. release Mike has finaly come in to his own as a drummer, and more importantly, as the time keeper and engine of the band. Sometimes less is more and Mike really shows the best understanding of this I’ve heard to date. Leaving room for the songs to breath, Mike has done an outstanding job of staying back when the song calls for it, then blasting in to full throttle pump when the song allows it, driving it to a body rocking expereince that elicits head-bobbing grooving and an occasional “YEAH!” from the listener.
Of course, this is a ’supergroup’ by every stretch of the imagination, and the only one I’ve heard yet that didn’t disappoint. There is not a single instrument that is not masterfully woven in to these songs, some of which are dark and brooding, and others that just plain rock. All in all, Dream Theater fan, Tool fan, or just about any kind of metal or prog fan can find something to love about this release. I am all of the above and see this as a superlative representation of why the term ’supergroup’ was first coined, but not really lived up to until now.