BORN OF OSIRIS
Illinois progressive metal band Born of Osiris are back with the follow up to the acclaimed The Simulation, a frankly face-melting seventh album called Angel or Alien. All of the ingredients that made previous efforts so intensely enjoyable are present and correct: inhuman vocals, technically dazzling fretwork, intricate musicianship courtesy of the rhythm section, and epic tunes. But there’s an organic evolution taking place — a progressive progression that has seen the Palatine group take things up a level.
“The Simulation was great,” says co-singer and keyboardist Joe Buras. “I feel like it’s a great precursor to our new record. I think it was a stepping stone because we have a new member, guitarist Nick Rossi, which was a huge change for us as far as writing styles and just having some new life, young blood in the band. Ok we had that stepping stone and I feel like it was received well.”
It was. Rossi joined Born of Osiris in 2018 and The Simulation was his debut with the band. The lineup is totally settled on Angel or Alien — the group has never sounded tighter, perfectly highlighted by forthcoming single and album opener “Poster Child.”
“I think we’ve become a little more structured,” says Buras. “We don’t have to be old school and never repeat a part — we can find themes. We’re not trying to play a million notes a minute. We’re finding our space, and exploring. Let’s not just try to be the heaviest and craziest. Let’s try to sonically be just more pleasing, and focus on what pleases us.”
Angel or Alien was wrapped in January, before the pandemic put the world in lockdown, and the fact that the members have home studios meant that they’ve been able to carry on with their work. Nothing was compromised, resulting in an album that the band feels is a complete record.
“Ronnie [Canizaro, vocals] and I both had some major life changes since December,” says Buras. “Everybody’s had major changes since December obviously, but we had some personally moving news. The tipping point was when we jumped off writing these songs, we knew that move was happening. We knew we had to change what our situation was. So I feel like this record is a build up of that emotion. December/January is when we got to make that move and record the record. So those were all our built up emotions and this is what it came out as.”
The keys-man believes that fans may be surprised by the length of the album, clocking in at an hour. Meanwhile he gets to sing more on this one, and guitarist Lee McKinney even takes the mic for one song. Buras also says that there are interludes, intros and outros that are reminiscent of Born of Osiris classic The Discovery.
That’s a general theme running through Angel or Alien — it’s familiar yet new. Traditional but progressive. And that’s important because, after 17 years in existence, the band has a loyal fanbase which expects a spirit of adventure but longs for those strong roots put in place long ago.
Original members Buras, Canizaro and drummer Cameron Losch juggled bandmates quite a lot before finally finding McKinney and, more recently, Rossi. But that’s just the nature of their back story — local musicians looking for like minded souls.
“We had all been in bands since we were young,” says Buras. “Local bands playing in each others’ basements on the weekends. Mid high school, a lot of the bands broke up and we found the best members — the people that wanted to do it full force. The most talented ones in a way. Just finding the right people. So we formed in high school, and then we got signed when we were seniors. Recorded our first record.”
The venue for that origin tale is Palatine, a northwest suburb of Chicago, about 30 miles from the city — not exactly a hotbed of rock & roll activity. Safe, well-to-do, nice schools — their conventional futures were mapped out for them until they broke out.
“I feel like the people that formed Born of Osiris were the people that were on the edge,” Buras says. “A few of the members, we graduated but throughout school we were getting in trouble. But we all went to church together, and our parents were very supportive. Cameron’s mom is a violin teacher and his dad’s technical so we always had the sound system. My parents grew up with my grandfather who’s a big band orchestra guy so they’re used to the music scene. Ronnie’s mom is a musician as well. So it was like in the blood of the founding members.”
Angel or Alien is further proof that they took the right path. The album is due out later this year — the lockdown hasn’t affected the rollout. For now of course, touring is on hold.
“Obviously we’d love to be touring when we release it,” says Buras. “But we were talking about an end of summer release and that hasn’t really changed. We’ve had our ducks in a row since February. Just in general, it feels like the music industry is at a halt in a lot of ways.”
You can’t keep these guys down though; expect further streaming content in 2020 as they prepare for and promote the release of this latest opus. Though McKinney is in Texas, the rest of the band remain in Palatine and are able to stay busy. More singles will come as the year unfolds. What we know for sure is that Angel or Alien is the sort of technical, head-churning metal album that we need right now.