Review Summary: "Your soul's reflection, is it what it used to be? So take another look at yourself. Tell me, what do you see?"
I have not always been a Born of Osiris fan, but one of my good friends was obsessed with them back in high school. Unfortunately I was mainly just a metalcore guy back then, but around this time I started to branch out. The Discovery was released in the late part of my Senior year in 2011. This friend handed me this CD one day after class, so I decided to give the band a shot. It instantly became and still is one of my favorite albums. Upon hearing about BOO's impending release, I couldn't wait to hear it, but I must say I was utterly disappointed. Now that there's some free time, I decided to finish the review I intended to do a while ago, so behold: Tomorrow We Die Alive.
Anticipating an exhilarating opener just as Follow The Signs kicked off their last album, the epic symphonic opening accompanied by a quick paced snare drum sounded promising. The ensuing "Machine" is then destroyed by basically nothing but a chug fest that makes the guitars indistinguishable from one another. The only remotely interesting lead work here is midway through the third and seventh stanzas. Unfortunately which ever one it is, lack of inspiration or just plain laziness, it would continue to be a trend throughout most of the album. The lead vocals of Ronnie Canizaro just did not seem to have the charge that they had in 2011's release. The vocals as a whole would be completely forgettable if it was not for keyboardist Joe Buras. He does a splendid job of providing good backup and sometimes even surpassing the leads. Joe utilizes not only his mid-high screams we're used to hearing, but he throws in some sort of strained, if you will, clean vocals. Buras really carries the rest of the band on tracks such as "Exhilarate" and "Absolution", where he has more vocal parts and brings his keyboard in to save us from the blandness the rest of the band presents. "Exhilarate" does however also feature a short guitar solo toward the end, adding some more substance to the track. Most of the substance in the album is provided by the various keys and synthesizers Buras throws out. The only problem with this is that some songs end up sounding too similar such as the openings for "Mindful" and "Exhilarate". They also kind of can throw certain songs off course, such as the closer "Vengeance". The end of the song sounds like some sort of electric Mariachi band that really put a question mark in the listener's head, thus leaving an unsettling ending.
Besides the last note about the closing track, the last half of the album seems to have a little more energy than the first half, and in turn salvages the rest of it. The first evidence of this is in "The Origin". Both the drumming and the guitars begin to wake up a little bit. The keyboard falls to the background a little bit which allows the other instruments to shine more, but still is enough to give the song a sort of uplifting feeling it needs at the beginning and end of the song. "Imaginary Condition" keeps the energy going, throwing many much needed and rich guitar riffs into the mix. "Illusionist" throws a twist in the formula, as some nice palm muting and double bass sets the tone before the synths ultimately come into the song. The last two tracks sound more closely to their last record, and more importantly, near their potential. Ultimately, the last half of the album revealed the energy Born of Osiris is known for, but I'm not sure if it was enough to save the album as a whole. Whereas The Discovery sounded more complete and cohesive, this album is missing that oh so vital quality. For the most part, it just sounds like a bunch of Discovery b-sides slapped together at random. This lack of production really surprised me, and ultimately made the album fail to be what it possibly could have been.
One of the most talented around, the band should and could have done so much more with this release. After releasing such an amazing album in The Discovery, Born of Osiris really need to take the advice of the lyrics in "Machine", and take a look at themselves to ask what went wrong. Maybe they let the fame go to their head and got careless, or maybe the lack of guitarist Jason Richardson on this album is what pushed them to focus more on the synthesizers. Whatever the case, hopefully Born of Osiris will find their way back on the path that lead to their Ascension. Tomorrow We Die Alive was not awful, but by releasing it Born of Osiris falls into a category I never would have fathomed they would: average.