2021 has been a year of surprises and continued instability—although in a more stable and tolerable way, largely, than was 2020. With the reasonable resumption of shows and concerts in the so-close-you-can-smell-the-dive-bar future, bands are popping out of the woodwork with the fruits of their quarantine labor. No exception to this, UK heavy-hitters Osiah surprised the heavy music community at large with the announcement of their third full length record, Loss. A record that combines the ruthless aggression of Terror Firma with the nuanced growth and technical abundance of Kingdom of Lies, Loss stands strong as the band’s most complete record to date, packed to the brim with the better part of an hour’s worth of crippling brutality, haunting atmosphere and flashy, technically savvy instrumentation. Loss sees Osiah furthering their already full-bodied and mature dynamic, continuing the hybridization of their technically-dusted style of death metal with ignorantly heavy deathcore with splashes of ambient blackening and ruthless slam.
Where Terror Firma was Osiah letting loose with an hour of unending, breakdown-laden aggression and Kingdom of Lies saw the band’s conceptual horizons broadening—with a new focus on technicality and intensity to boot—Loss takes the finest elements of both records and weaves them together into a towering tapestry of dynamic deathcore. From the very onset of “The Second Law,” lacerating blast beats and bouncy, bombastic patterns take turns trampling the listener, with the percussion on “Loss,” alongside “Celer et Audax” shining especially brightly. Here, flashy fills segue between machine-gun blast beats and immolating, groovy patterns with a breakneck cadence, setting the pace for many of Osiah’s more outright metallic moments. Likewise, “The Eye of the Swarm,” alongside “Parascusia” see Terror Firma-era Osiah rearing its head, using a series of spine-shrinking, bone-rending breakdowns to beat the listener to a pulp. Here, technical drumming takes a backseat to a ten-ton bass tone and dissonant, devastating chugs. While Osiah’s ability to break it down might be one of the things I, personally, appreciate the most about Loss (and the band as a whole), it’s worth mentioning that “Loss,” as well as “War Within Our Walls” are chief examples of Osiah forging riffs as sharp as honed steel. These songs see terrifyingly intense fretwork juxtaposed against ambience and a sprinkle of blackened metal and deathcore, giving the songs a complex, dreary presence—but not without their fair share of bloodboiling breakdowns, rest assured. Loss, between its diverse and mature metallic influence and proclivity for ruthless aggression, it’s a diverse and engaging record, one that uses a little bit of a whole lot of heavy music’s myriad subgenres to keep the listener on the edge of their seat.
When I first heard Osiah, back in 2013 with the release of Reborn Through Hate, the two things that stood out to me were the drums (see above) and the band’s grisly, mind-warping vocal element. While plenty of things have changed regarding Osiah’s dynamic since then, those two elements have remained a constant in the band’s sound and appeal—with the vocal work remaining top-notch even in a time where being a stand out vocalist in heavy music is becoming increasingly competitive. Loss is as varied and engaging vocally as it is instrumentally, with shrieks and soul-smothering bellows reigning side by side in a colossal effort, brutalizing the listener without abandon. “The Eye of the Swarm” is an excellent example—as not only does Osiah’s frontman, Ricky Lee Roper, absolutely shine, but Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent, Hollow Prophet) is immense as well, making it a must-listen anthem for otherworldly vocal enthusiasts out there. Elsewhere, Roper shines on his own, with “Terracide Compulsion” and “The Ominous Mind (Jaded)” being as good an example as any as to Roper’s prowess. Roper’s vocal skill is matched by his ability to creatively write lyrics that impart a powerful story—and while this was obvious on the conceptual record Kingdom of Lies, it continues on Loss, with each track feeling ever so slightly as though it was penned by Tolkien, or some other demi-God of Medieval fantasy—while still feeling fresh and modern, unimbued by stiff olde speech or cliché.
Loss is the strongest work by an unusually strong band within the deathcore realm. Osiah have always been both fun and impressive to listen to—something many bands lack—but their third full length release kicks that up a notch. Loss is intellectually stimulating while still bringing out the listener’s inner caveman, with breakdowns and slams aplenty to induce primal violence on a whim. For a record that is likely a surprise to many, Loss is a safe bet to end up on many year-end “best of” lists once 2021 has run its course.
For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, Black Tongue, Ingested, Shadow of Intent, Oceano
By: Connor Welsh