Review Summary: Some fantastic ideas dragged down by a meandering middle stretch of songs with no identity
I have to admit that Born of Osiris has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Though Tomorrow We Die Alive
and Soul Sphere
were big disappointments, I was still able to find a couple songs on each album that spoke to me. Like many who enjoyed this band at one point in their life, I always wished they’d revisit the sounds they explored in The New Reign
or The Discovery
. Instead, they’ve pushed for a more formulaic approach that has consistently been a mixed bag. Though Angel and Alien
(despite being a horrible album title) does a better job at delivering a handful of fun tunes than the past three records, it’s 55 minute length is completely unnecessary and its meandering middle stretch of songs bogs down the entire body of work.
The album starts off with solid electronics. "Poster Child" doesn’t really do anything new in terms of metalcore, but the backup vocals by keyboardist Joe Buras are a real highlight. Over the years, Joe has really stayed consistent and that’s the same with this record. The breakdown is fast and fun, but it’s the electronic outro with some beautiful saxophone work that stands out the most. You can tell they’re really embracing The Discovery
fans with some of these outros sprinkled throughout the record.
"White Nile" is one of the highlights of the record, and it makes sense this was the lead single. The title track is a fun upbeat song, and gives us some versatility as a listener only three songs in. The issue is the following few songs lack everything the first few delivered on. "Waves" feels like a lackluster retread of the title track with some questionable clean vocals. It almost feels like it could’ve a Soul Sphere
b-side. "Oathbreaker" is the true definition of mediocrity. The only thing that works here is the final breakdown, but both of these should’ve been scrapped from the final product. There are similar songs on this same record that actually deliver on what these songs were trying to achieve, and cutting these would’ve kept this momentum going.
"Threat of a Presence" is great though. The riffs are fast and energetic, the vocals are beefy, and the chorus gives the song some layers. This should’ve been the song that immediately followed the title track. It’s heavier, has an appropriate amount of melody, and has some great guitar work in the latter half. Unfortunately, the next song, "Love Story", sounds just like "Oathbreaker" and "Waves". Though I look past most of the mediocre lyrics from Born of Osiris, the lyrics here are cringe inducing at times. "Love Story" is another song that should’ve made the cutting room floor. The middle part of this album meanders, loses the momentum the first three songs started, and pales in comparison to what comes next.
Fortunately, "Crossface" is one of the standout songs of the record, and this is where the record really starts to find its footing. The djent-infused chugs blend perfectly with the electronics. This is why I still listen to Born of Osiris. It’s not earth shattering, but it’s damn good fun. From the jumpy riffs and vocal stylings to the trap-beat outro, the entire song screams The Discovery
. It doesn’t copy older material, but gives us something new that reintroduces the stylings they were dabbling in a decade ago.
"Echobreather" could have easily been the album's third single. The guitar work is quintessential Born of Osiris and the chorus is actually catchy. Again, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but I don’t think it has to be. It’s another fun song that shows they can deliver some decent clean vocals. "Lost Souls" has an interesting back and forth with the vocals and guitar before the chorus hits. The electronics really bring the energy here, and carry the song. The guitar solo towards the end gives the song a much needed emotional touch. I personally really enjoy the band’s approach to guitar solos on this record. It isn’t trying to beat you over the head with technicality, but gives the song exactly what it needs. I really appreciate that touch, and it honestly reminds me of the approach of my favorite guitarist of all-time: Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
"In For the Kill" really does go in for the kill. It starts at a 100 and never drops below that. The drums pound your ear drums, the guitar sounds like pure evil, and the chorus is one of the coolest things Born of Osiris has ever experimented with. Again, we have another killer electronic outro akin to The Discovery
. "You Are The Narrative" is easily the best song on this record, and sounds like it could’ve been released right after The New Reign
. The song structure is all over the place (in a good way), the energy is always high, and I can’t stop myself from headbanging. The guttural growls are perfectly countered by the blood curdling highs, and the guitar riffs towards the end are what I’ve always wanted from a new Born of Osiris record. I hope the band takes this song, and approaches the next album with this song structure in mind. Even with it following a similar song structure as others, the ever changing riffs keep you on your toes.
The band keeps this momentum going with "Truth and Denial". Born of Osiris shines when the energy is at its highest, and this song is another example of that. The breakdown at the end, though similar to older material, just kicks ass. "Shadowmourne" closes out the album with some more saxophone work with excellent results. The entire song has a swelling emotion that is lacking in some of the softer songs on the album, and is a truly fantastic closer.
If the band could find a better mix between this new softer approach while also embracing the more hectic stylings of songs like "You Are The Narrative", Born of Osiris could deliver another masterpiece. This could've been that masterpiece. Instead, we get an album with some really high highs and some really low lows. This is their best record since The Discovery
, but there’s still a large gap in quality between the two. I think most of us were expecting more quality after the first two singles, and the middle part of this album really weighs the great songs down with unnecessary repetition. I think we’d all look at this album in a better light if they just cut songs like "Waves", "Oathbreaker", and "Love Story". Even with some of the negativity in this review, I know I will be coming back to this record far more than the last three. I just wish we could recapture that old flame where Born of Osiris delivered from beginning to end.