Artist: Born of Osiris
Album: Angel or Alien
Born of Osiris—who truly need no introduction—have always been a band defined by extremes and who spends very little time in the spaces between those extremes. From the iconic aggression within “Bow Down,” through the heavily progressive lens of Soul Sphere and more parsed back and concentrated blend of technicality and catchy, crushing metalcore on The Simulation, the band have always focused their efforts at dominating a particular corner of the nefarious and multifaceted octagon that is metalcore (or, in the case of The New Reign and A Higher Place, deathcore). With Angel or Alien, this schism between metalcore’s more technical elements and its more catchy, primal and instinctual elements reaches a climax. On their long-awaited 2021 full length record, Born of Osiris create a record that stands to satisfy just about any fan of theirs, from their innocuous late-2000s start to their illustrious and immense chart-topping releases that defined their previous works. With Angel or Alien, the band release nearly an hour of bouncy, bold and beautiful progressive metalcore that takes the band’s electronic and symphonic elements and blends them beautifully into a backbone of unfiltered aggression. Here, Born of Osiris are not only at their best-in-a-while, but may indeed be at their best ever.
Instrumentally, Born of Osiris have consistently pushed the envelope when it comes to contemporary metal-and-deathcore, constantly demonstrating they are a keystone act in the genre’s technical and progressively tinted offshoots. This remains true here, with Angel or Alien managing to be a record that has colossal “mainstream” (if one can really use the term as it applies to a relatively niche style of music) appeal while still maintaining a very unique, groovy and bouncy demeanor. From the onset of “Poster Child,” the band’s percussion leaps into the forefront of their dynamic, with fleet feet hammering away at dense, plodding kick drums that add an earthy, gritty heft to even the band’s more ethereal moments. This can be heard excellently on “Waves,” or the more melancholic portions of “Angel or Alien,” wherein groovy, dancy kick drum smacks tie in idyllically with a swarthy, warm bass. Other tracks—like “Oathbreaker” or “Crossface”—see the band’s heavier and more shred-happy nature take hold. Here, the band’s guitars—which are, in earnest, their prime element—simply shine, above and beyond that of the otherwise high-caliber fretwork present throughout the remainder of Angel or Alien. Where the band really manage to bring everything together, however, is in songs like “Love Story,” which one might expect to be a somber ballad or place-holding filler cut. Instead, the song stands as a personal favorite on the band’s impressive release—blending a refined penchant for catchy, melodic chorus work with some of the record’s catchiest and hardest-hitting grooves. Other songs—like “Threat of Your Presence” or “Shadowmorne” manage to nail this too, combining the band’s electronic elements with groove-heavy, spacey fretwork and pounding percussion to give the listener an experience that feels classically like Born of Osiris.
Arguably, since their inception, the element of Born of Osiris that has undergone the least change and refinement has been their vocal element. While there have certainly been some changes along the way, the group’s vocal component has never truly shined—at least not since their ultraviolent debut record. Here, Born of Osiris—as if self-aware—actively aim to switch things up and provide much-needed variety throughout the record’s fourteen track adventure—and they do it to marked avail. Songs like “Threat of Your Presence” or “In For the Kill” are barn-burners that go right for the throat, boasting a constant barrage of raw, scathing screams. Others—like “Love Story”—balance pitched, belted singing alongside a blistering low end, giving the listener something varied from much of what Born of Osiris have provided before. Even the lead singles, “White Nile” and “Angel or Alien” see the band’s vocal element undergoing some growth, taking measured strides in providing more introspective and emotionally intelligent lyrical content in a vector that runs a more diverse gamut.
Angel or Alien—as much as I wanted to hate the record based on its title alone—really lives up to its quirky namesake. Providing everything from blissful ethereality to brutalizing aggression in a technically savvy, progressively-tinted package, Born of Osiris have truly crafted a towering bastion to progressive metalcore. While 55 minutes and 14 tracks is still long, the interludes planted at the ends of some of the longer tracks do an excellent job to give the listener a little break, and Born of Osiris have gone to great lengths to ensure that no segment of their sprawling release sounds too monotonous. In short, the band have outdone themselves, giving both old, new and long-lost fans something to rejoice in as they take it for a spin.
For Fans Of: Volumes, Reflections, Veil of Maya, Periphery
By: Connor Welsh