Soul Sphere review by Born of Osiris

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  • Released: Oct 23, 2015
  • Sound: 3
  • Lyrics: 4
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reviewer's score: 3.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 4.5 (25 votes)
Born of Osiris: Soul Sphere

Sound — 3
"Soul Sphere" is the fifth album by American something-or-other-core band Born of Osiris, giving us the follow up to 2013's "Tomorrow We Die Alive." Thankfully there's no obnoxious triangles this time around.

Where to begin. Around 2008/2009, along with Veil of Maya, The Faceless and a couple of others, BoO popularized a trend in progressive/technical deathcore. It's a trend that's defined much of what the current "sumeriancore" scene looks like now, but whereas the previously mentioned bands (Veil of Maya and The Faceless and even a couple of the others) are examples of some rather fancy progression and evolution, BoO is undoubtedly an example of slow stagnation.

If this album could be summed up in one public service proclamation, "all the songs are 'Machine' but with more synths and less sweeps" would be fairly accurate. It's not even possible for that to be a generalization at this point: out of the 12 tracks on this album (all between 3 and 5 minutes in length), they're all at more-or-less the same tempo, same structure and take from the same pool of grooves. Melodic styles vary from that one overused Middle Eastern scale that absolutely every metalcore band sticks to and the phrygian mode that, again, every metalcore band uses. Very, very occasionally, there will be a dip into a progression that would not be out of place in a Capcom video game soundtrack, but keeping track of what song features said progression in one sitting is like pinpointing a bottles worth of Coca Cola in a sea of brown paint.

So there's one song that's vaguely similar to all of their work before "The Discovery" and that'd be "Goddess of the Dawn." Shock horror, it actually has some kind of variation in its sections and movements, even if it barely breaches the 3 minute mark in length. One would hope that it's a "fortunate derailing" if such a thing could exist, but no, it's the only instance where a song tries to differentiate itself in some major way.

Going back to the original proclamation, personally there is no reason a band shouldn't experiment or even indulge in adding electronics to metal music (The Algorithm made it "cool"), but while having them permanently take up all the space in between the other instruments has worked before (see Circle of Contempt's "Entwine the Threads"), any attempt at atmosphere is forced into superfluousness as all that happens is that the rather mundane harmonic ideas are filtered into basic synth presets layered onto equally mundane instrumental sections. The only time the electronic layers really come alive, have their moment and make an impact is at the end of the final track "The Composer" and is only a result of the band having stopped playing.

What makes this whole experience even worse is how unbelievable and mechanical this album sounds. Single notes recorded and organized into entire riffs, harsh editing amplifying this effect (most egregiously on "Free Fall" where the notes have absolutely no room to breathe at all), quantized synthesis matching up perfectly to each drum hit... maybe it'd be a "good" thing if it actually sounded good but it really doesn't, it makes all the instruments sound choppy (and the bass irrelevant).

Apparently there's some argument that justifies this lifeless approach to production in that it's supposed to be a "perfect rendition" of a recording but it's just inauthentic and reinforces the formulaic and streamlined feel of it all. It almost seems like some sort of dystopian future-product.

"The second DLC pack for The Discovery™, now in pill form!"

Lyrics — 4
Long time vocalist Ronnie Canizaro is basically him as he always has been since "A Higher Place." Same with Joe Buras' clean contributions.

?Is that all there is to it?

Well, ok, the vocals do not suffer from the unfortunate production treatment that every other musical aspect has. Although unrealistically layered to hell at every instance, vocal effects are either minimalist or not present at all. However, not having a negative isn't much of a positive in this instance as vocals alone do not improve upon such a lacklustre instrumental base. If anything, they just blend into the expectancy that comes with anything self-styled as "core" these days.

Lyrically, again, it's just what is expected in this genre: Feel good, subtly masochistic/cathartic phrasing where there's a vague "us vs. them" mentality that is always, always, always metaphorical and lacking in focus. In every single song.

An example from "Throw Me in the Jungle":

"I'll leave my blood in the city
Throw me in the jungle
I can finally say I'm ready
Throw me in the jungle
Just let my lungs fill with smoke
Leave only my skin a match and a stone"

If there's a world where any of that makes sense, I don't think we're living on it.

Overall Impression — 3
This album is perhaps a worrying trend in what counts as "content" from record labels. "Content" being the nebulous term for formula-driven, digitally shared media these days, "Soul Sphere" is a musical incarnation of exactly that: an expected, uninteresting musical venture that has been slaved over in the editing department, letting us end up with some sort of yardstick for internet pillocks like me to get cynical over.

Songs to look out for: The Algorithm's remix of "Machine," cuz it's way better than the original song... and even the album it's not even on.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It's really a shame, The Discovery was a fantastic album, but once they gave Jason the boot they just drove themselves into a boring ass formula. When they released Throw me in the Jungle, I thought "Great, it's TMWDA all over again, except even shittier." only to actually enjoy the next few tracks they released. Full album comes out, and I guess those 2 good tracks were the best they could do. Kicking Jason out was the worst thing they could have done.
    Never understood the hate this band gets, they're are amazing musicians!
    No doubt they are amazing and amazing live, but they are getting repetitive which is a bummer especially cause they are so talented
    In my opinion, they get hated on because they're shitty composers. I don't hear any cohesion within single songs, let alone their full albums (matter of fact, the only cohesion their albums show is discombobulation). I thought The Discovery was OK and probably the height of this band, but we all know why that album was tolerable. I forget what album came between New Reign and the Discovery, but that album kind of sums up this band's career. It was their first jumbled mess of nonsense that lacked any kind of structure. The Discovery made it looked like they righted the ship, but then they released the next album and it was flat out boring, not to mention had a really, really stupid title. As for this record--I'll give it a shot at some point, but I doubt I'll buy it.
    I thought this album was a great step for them to take. Much more technical than their previous album, but still really good. Don't get why it has such a low rating...
    I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do.
    I don't understand the hate either. To be honest I thought the album was better than this review. "If this album could be summed up in one public service proclamation, "all the songs are 'Machine' but with more synths and less sweeps" would be fairly accurate." I mean really?
    It's not their level of musicianship that eventually made me stop enjoying their music, it's the repetitive song structure and composition. I loved The New Reign, and The Discovery was pretty good too, but their last two releases just sound so similar to me. It's like they're stuck in a songwriting rut, and it's frustrating as someone who used to be a pretty big fan.
    Right? There's a difference between what you can do with an instrument and what you and your buddies can do with a group of instruments. This wank-metal shit is annoying.
    It is a typical Born of Osiris album. I enjoyed it, nothing ground breaking, but good jams. This review doesn't do it justice. If the reviewer hates the band before they listen to it than it's not a fair review.
    Its funny that I heard the new song and thought this sounds similar to machine, I hope the rest of the album isn't a copy of that awesome I'm seeing the comments and the reviews and I'm afraid I might have been right but I'm still gonna give it a listen I'm probably not going to purchase it though
    Maybe check out The Composer, River of Time, etc. I mean, yes, it sounds similar to past efforts by the band, but it's not a bad sound. It's not exactly copy/paste.
    I had to look it up again because I forgot the name of the song, but it's Resilience.
    Genuinely really enjoyed this album and I'm not typically a fan of deathcore. Much better than there last release too
    It's really funny how some people in the YouTube comments section claim this to be one of, if not their best album too.
    Lol, under the Video for Throw Me In The Jungle there's not a single comment praising the album. Here are some excerpts: "New song? I thought I heard it like twelve times on their last album. " "Also, Born of Osiris has become the Indiana Jones of metal bands. There are only 3 Indiana jones movies, just like there are only 3 born of osiris albums." "I could've sworn a year and a half ago they said they were going back to The New Reign sound. The fuck is this? " "Easily the most uninteresting thing they have written. "
    Im not keen on this review i think soulsphere was a step up from tomorrow we die alive plus i think people are hating on Boo because there not creating anything like the discovery which pretty much was jason richardsons doing so people need to quit bitching about that or your pretty much fake fans comparing a guitarist to a different guitarist its damn right disrespectfull to any musician even if ones better than the other we all have our limits, people need to appreciate the hard work that's put into these songs
    The New Reign was the first thing I heard and it's all felt slightly downhill from there. I haven't enjoyed anything as much as that. Though all the albums have their moments. Slightly disappointing to read.
    "all the songs are 'Machine' but with more synths and less sweeps" haha nice
    The bands that leave a lasting impression are mostly known for tasty riffs regardless of its technicallity (AC/DC, Black Sabbath etc.) To me at least, probably on par with the music would be production quality and I'm specifically referring to dynamics and compression. If those are gone the chances are slim that you'll have a timeless record. I.E this album will not be one of the greats (euphemism added).
    I liked "Goddess Of The Dawn" because it seemed less... edited? I dunno, it just felt more like there was something going on, and the other videos posted felt to me more like just walls of chugs with very little variation.
    arsalking38 · Nov 26, 2015 11:06 PM