Ah, Born of Osiris. They seem to be another one of those polarizing bands you either love or hate...or love to hate. Personally, I've been a fan since A Higher Place, and blew my top for discography high point The Discovery. And even despite my initial misgivings about the last album (one that seems to be hated by some), I really grew to appreciate the more synthesizer-driven approach. But whether you enjoyed that one or not, rest assured, the first track here will bring you back to the death metal guitar supremacy you once loved.
I'll admit, at times I almost feel guilty about how much I enjoy this music. The production is almost saccharine in its pristineness and lacks edge, the riffs are super djenty (if that bothers you), and the vocals continue to swing more and more towards metalcore in both singing and screaming. But as far as mainstream deathcore acts go, if you ask me nobody does it better. Songs are catchy, well constructed, and above all, fucking righteous to bang your head to. And despite what you might hear on the surface, this isn't some big dumb brocore either. A deeper listen to the smart melodies, work on the keys, and overall musicianship will reveal the level of technical prowess that eludes most bands in the genre.
Soul Sphere may not be my favorite album or even in my top 50 this year but I would mark it in my top 5 major label releases. It's more consistent, in my opinion, than Lamb of God or Black Dahlia Murder, and falls just short of what I loved about Iwrestledabearonce and August Burns Red. Rankings aside, I continue to be a sucker for those cascading guitar leads and shuffled time signatures. And even with the ever-growing inclusion of somewhat poppy clean vocals, I am not deterred by the performance. Even the most radio-friendly track, "Throw Me in the Jungle," is still quite fun despite it's simplicity. What Soul Sphere lacks in the charm and grit of my favorite deathcore release this year from Ukraine's Azgard, it makes up for in continued staying power. Tracks lack some differentiation, but rarely lack quality.
There are some standout moments though. Consider the brief chanting on "Illuminate" or the increased progginess in the riffs and structure of "Sleeping and the Dead." The guitar on "Freefall" is just insanely fun as well. There's also the not entirely new, but well-constructed classical elements of "Tidebinder." Rocking outro solo on this one as well. Honestly each track has something that either got me moving or singing along, just not necessarily for doing anything new. So like the cover art, Soul Sphere is still pretty familiar territory, but equally on par with past outings. If you liked BoO in the past, it would be somewhat odd in my mind to not enjoy this one. If this is your first time hearing them, this is as good an entry point as any. In the end, I really have fun with it and plan on picking up a hard copy to sit along side the others. Find this pretty much anywhere cd's are sold.