Album Review: Born of Osiris - 'The Eternal Reign'

10 March 2017 | 11:15 am | Staff Writer

Groundhog Day: Now with more synth breakdowns.

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When U.S. metalcore juggernaut Born of Osiris released their debut EP ‘The New Reign’ in 2007, they were little more than pimply-faced teenagers with an ambitious sound and a hungry attitude.

As guitarist Lee McKinney states in a press release, “10 years ago we were seniors in high school in Chicago and spent our spring break recording a record that we had no idea would massively impact our lives. The New Reign was something we all believed in, and for that reason we were all anxious and curious to see how it would be taken.” Fortunately for them, it was an artistic gamble that paid off, leading to a lasting partnership with Sumerian Records, four full-length records, and a decade-long career full of growled vocals, down-tuned mosh mayhem and progressive, synth-centric flirtations.

To celebrate this tenth-anniversary milestone, Born of Osiris decided to re-release their adolescent EP, but not in the conventional, “Hey! Here’s one of our old records, exactly as it was then, but with some demo tracks and a completely unnecessary remaster. Give us your money!!” sense. Instead, the group’s current members (lead guitarist Matthew C. Pantelis left after ‘The New Reign’ to join Veil of Maya, with McKinney taking over axe duties, alongside a brief two-year stint with Jason Richardson, who was fired from the band in 2011), returned to the studio to rebuild, rewrite and re-record these eight tracks from the ground up, while also throwing in a brand-new track from those original ‘New Reign’ sessions just for good measure.

It’s a welcome approach to old, fan favourites and it lends a modern sheen to some mid-2000’s, progressive metalcore bangers. Hence ‘The New Reign’ gets a new lease on life as ‘The Eternal Reign’.

[caption id="attachment_1090763" align="alignnone" width="699"]7 Born Of Osiris; now.[/caption]

What’s immediately noticeable about ‘The Eternal Reign’ is the change in production. Replacing Michael Keene’s efforts on ‘The New Reign’, frequent collaborator Nick Sampson (who also produced 2013’s ‘Tomorrow We Die Alive’ and 2015’s disappointing ‘Soul Sphere’) pushes each one of these tracks to a whole new level.

The drum sound here is gargantuan, and extremely prevalent in double-kick fuelled, pinch harmonic ragers like ‘Bow Down,’ or the bombastic heaviness of crushing tracks like ‘Empires Erased’ and ‘Abstract Art’. Joe Buras’ synth lines and keyboard flourishes have been suitably enhanced as well, most notably in the mid-section of ‘Brace Legs,’ and the bludgeoning transitions of stand-out track ‘Open Arms To Damnation’.

Vocally, Ronnie Canizaro benefits from a decade's worth of variation and his vocal style has progressed in leaps and bounds since ‘The New Reign’. However, it's not necessarily an ‘improvement’ in a strictly literal sense and more of just a noticeable difference; where the vocals across both releases fit the sound and the band’s aesthetic, complementing both releases in an organic way. And while the inclusion of the previously unreleased track ‘Glorious Day’ feels exciting at first, it’s an enthusiasm that quickly dissipates with the track’s short run-time, simplistic structure and ‘light-on-ideas’ attitude.

[caption id="attachment_1090766" align="alignnone" width="700"]born-of-osiris-the-new-reign(ep)-20151012165158 Ah, 2007.[/caption]

In terms of songwriting, the differences from ‘The New Reign’ to ‘The Eternal Reign’ are relatively minor, limited to some changed guitar riffs/drum parts, extra background melodies, re-tuned bass and the addition of clean vocals in ‘Empires Erased’.

Overall, and excluding the aforementioned production aspect, the changes here don't really provide any defined sense of progression. It’s not so much buying the new model of your favourite car, as much as it’s giving the one you already own a bang-up paint job.

The ultimate question with ‘The Eternal Reign’ boils down to this: was the release absolutely necessary? Is it all just a shameless cash grab? Or perhaps a nostalgic diversion and appeal to the existing Born of Osiris fan-base? As one of those fan’s (a user named ‘WillBallForSoup') so succinctly put it in a YouTube comment for their revamped ‘Empires Erased’ video: “This is bitter-sweet for me bros. Yes, this is the sound that BOO should have been BUILDING off of. Rather than an update of an old album, they should have given us new material based off the OG stuff. Meh. This still melts my face off, but give me something fresh.

And therein lies the rub. Born of Osiris, to put it bluntly, your recent albums have been rather shitty. However, ‘The New Reign’ had great, memorable songs, and now with ‘The Eternal Reign’ production, they sound heavy as all fuck. Perhaps, maybe (just maybe) take some of that nostalgia influence, and write a new record that’s just as great – or dare we say it – even better.

  1. Rosecrance
  2. Empires Erased
  3. Open Arms to Damnation
  4. Abstract Art
  5. The New Reign
  6. Brace Legs
  7. Bow Down
  8. The Takeover
  9. Glorious Day

‘The Eternal Reign’ is available now through Sumerian Records.

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