Born of Osiris: The Discovery Reviewed

I’d like to do a review of an album that was much loved in 2011. Born of Osiris’ The Discovery released March 22, 2011. This made tons of top ten lists, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a negative review of it. I’ll be provocative and point out why I sort of hate this album. But before ragging on it, I’ll open with what I actually like.

I love the interesting sounds and tonalities that the keyboard adds to the band. These range through xylophone, steel drum, string section, choral sounds, etc. I also love the mixing of genres like the almost hip-hop like guitar riffs in Recreate, or the light section of Devastate, or truly hip-hop influences of Regenerate.

I think when this album shines it is utterly fantastic. There are songs I listen to a lot, but as a whole I think there are some huge errors on the album that make it hard to start listening to (or listen to at all).

First off, take the second track Singularity. There is this fun interesting song in there, but the mixing was done so that basically the entire song is covered up with this huge drum/rhythm guitar sound just pounding out the 16th notes. It covers everything interesting going on with totally inane, boring, generic nothingness. It is so frustrating to listen to.

This album had the potential to be so good, and I think this is what people are referring to when they say it is great. But these are people that can overlook this damning flaw. I thought at first it was just my headphones or speakers or equilizer settings. After some experimentation I realized they made it that way on purpose.

I have a guess for why they did this. Metal bands want to sound heavy and like a metal band. It is often hard to get over this pressure. I completely understand because you just look at how some bands get slaughtered in reviews when they change their sound to something less heavy. Followers leave them. Thus, Born of Osiris wrote a bunch of really cool songs, and then tried to turn them heavy by throwing this nonsensical pounding on top to make it sound like traditional metal.

The effect is that the songs got buried and it turns out to not even succeed in being heavy. The effect is this faux heaviness. A truly mature band would let the song dictate what it should sound like. As artists they should have been confident enough in what they were doing to let less heavy songs just be that way. Trying to mask the songs as something else completely ruins them.

They also seem to try to make this pounding interesting in the way that some djent bands do by making the pounding complicated. But mostly it is also a faux complication, because the songs remain in 4/4 without any interesting rhythmic things going on. Sporadically pounding out some stuff doesn’t change that. It might fool some people, but not me.

Now I could be totally wrong in this analysis, but that would be even worse in my opinion, because that would mean they made this sound on purpose and intentionally buried everything interesting in the songs. If that were the case, I’d give an even worse score, so I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that it was due to pressures of the metal world.

Overall, I think there is some greatness to this album, but I wish it was brought out rather than hidden. It made this a hard and often unlistenable album for me. That’s why I give it a 4/10.

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