It’s honestly quite impressive to witness Born Of Osiris’ continued dedication to their craft, not less because the tech-death bubble they’ve been so frequently nestled in has gone a long way to bursting, and right now, they’ve hardly even got the boon of being one of Sumerian’s top dogs to serve as a backup. It would certainly be easy just to down tools at this point, and to have the band breaking their streak of an album every other year could’ve been an ominous omen of just that, but they at least deserve some credit for roughing it out this long. After all, there’s a certain shelf life to both progressive metal and deathcore as it is, and if Born Of Osiris are willing to try and combat that with The Simulation, the first half of a double album that could hopefully dredge up some well overdue interest à la Between The Buried And Me, then more power to them. At less than half-an-hour long, it’s certainly short enough to at least give a chance, and if this really is their put up or shut up moment, they’ve got the space to make something of it.
Then again, what lies at the other end of the spectrum is just as possible, where The Simulation ends up as a truncated cobbling together of half-ideas that does no justice to neither Born Of Osiris’ ambitions nor abilities. After all, a lot of progressive music thrives on its enormous scale and length, and taking that away can have some severe repercussions on the work at hand; returning to the Between The Buried And Me comparisons, it’s the difference between how Automata I excelled as an album its own right, and how Automata II felt like a scrambling of pieces from the cutting room floor that really could’ve stayed disassembled. That’s why it’s so good that The Simulation lands much closer to the former, positive outcome, being able to thrive as a body of work even when removed from the context of effectively being the first half of a bigger project, as well as serving as the much-appreciated and laudable galvanisation that Born Of Osiris need at this point.
Of course, given how relatively hemmed in this album can be, especially within the grander context of progressive music, it’s not like The Simulation is all that focused on breaking down barriers or kicking innovation to the fore. Eight tracks doesn’t leave much room for diversity as it is, and when Born Of Osiris do return to the tired tech-metal well to scrape up whatever is left, like with the worn-out, staccato crashes wedged into Disconnectome and Analogs In A Cell, it’s indicative of the distance they still have to go before they can become a truly great band. That said, Born Of Osiris are arguably able to reach a far more convincing metallic synthesis within their sound on this album than so many of their peers thanks how well Joe Buras’ synths are interwoven, not only emphasising the mechanical coldness and brutality that underscores it thematically, but showcasing a richer, more vibrant sense of atmosphere in modern metal that comes from doing more than just slathering electronics on the top of the mix. It’s at its best on Under The Gun with the weedling synth line combined with an openly more melodic metal track that sounds absolutely enormous, but pronounced in the way these elements are on Cycles Of Tragedy and One Without The Other brings a more muscular presentation to the table with a level of power that’s unavoidable. It’s just as synthetic and impervious as the vast majority of tech-metal, but Born Of Osiris actually know how to convincingly add colour to the mix, and it does them a world of good.
It’s one of the few instances in an album like this where the instrumentation can conceivably plug up some gaps in a fragmented and largely underdeveloped lyrical concept, the area where The Simulation arguably stumbles the most. The general conceit of the technological onslaught that sees the human desire for escapism online is a fairly rote narrative at this point, and when it’s explored with a level of detail and intrigue that just about surpasses Muse’s surface-level phoning-in of the same topic on last year’s Simulation Theory, it’s hardly going to be the main attraction. And yet, it’s a theme with enough cogent exploration in the music itself to go a bit further than the writing would allow, pairing the prominent, unashamed synthetics with a calamitous guitar tone and Ronnie Canizaro’s formidable scream in a way that opens up something a lot more visceral and – somewhat ironically – human. The holes are still there, and the fact that greater lyrical depth as well as instrumental inspiration could’ve made for a lot more pervasive listen goes without saying, but there’s a lot to like with Born Of Osiris’ execution and how it pulls off a lot of the heavy lifting well.
In fact, there’s a lot to like about The Simulation in general, especially when it’s coming from a band who are yet to truly make their mark at large. There’s a bluntness and an immediacy that works well, and doing without sacrificing greater levels of creative depth is what elevates it above the tech-metal doldrums and into something much more promising. Granted, that promise still isn’t without its hitches just yet, but with the second part of this experiment on the way, there’s more reason than maybe ever before to be excited about new Born Of Osiris music. It might’ve taken them a while to reach that point, but the fact that they have is nothing to complain about.
For fans of: After The Burial, The Faceless, Veil Of Maya
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Simulation’ by Born Of Osiris is out now on Sumerian Records.