Sound — 6
There's been a mistake somewhere along the line; Chicago's Born of Osiris don't sound like they were born of anything. Their futuristic deathcore is a precise machination, surely an execution of code drawn up in a laboratory somewhere. I say this because production is absolutely vital to their assault. Luckily, they have experience behind the mixing desk and on third-full length "Tomorrow We Die Alive" they're flanked by a team of six top engineers, who between them have produced almost every breakdown in the last half decade, from Attack Attack! to The Devil Wears Prada.
Polished to perfection and up to the eyeballs in Pro Tools tricks, this is their best sounding work to date. "Machine" raises the curtain with orchestral overtures, smoothly handing the baton from violin to guitar to synth, and finally back to guitar with a big bass boom as the riffing cogs begin to spin. It's window dressing at its finest, and it's mighty entertaining on first listen. Lee McKinney's lead guitar is technically spotless, like liquid as it seeps between the cracks of the drums and rhythm playing.
However, once you've oohed and aahed at the fireworks what you're left with is the substance digitally clipped chugs which probably have more meaning in Morse code than they do music. Differentiation between many tracks rests almost entirely on production and the flavour of the synthesised backdrop. For example, "Divergency" is sci-fi with a crude dubstep ending, while "Aeon III" appropriates Eastern instrumentation and "Illusionist" glistens with frosty reverb. Strangest of all, though, is "Absolution," highly melodic excursion which delicately toes the line between progressive showmanship and the sweetness and innocence of a Disney movie. It should be reiterated that each of these songs is fitted with the same basic package of riffs and vocal patterns brutal deathcore and metalcore convention when the decoration is stripped back.
Lyrics — 6
The lyrics are highly stylized, describing seismic movements in space, time and society to name but a few items on the agenda. "Aeon III" wins the prize for ambition ("Surrender to the Gods as you flow through the river of the sky") while "Exhilarate," one of the more personal tracks, is a resolution to stay humble. For all its emotion, however, it still manages to place the words construct and deconstruct next to each other in a sentence. Vocalist Ronnie Canizaro is on good form after a moderate showing on 2011's "The Discovery," but he is not blessed with a voice that can command a great deal of attention over the sounds which are flailing, skidding and going off all around him.
Overall Impression — 6
This album is not fundamentally different from Born of Osiris' first two efforts, but the greater role of synthesizers and samplers serves as a distraction from the band's core sound rather than a refreshing compliment to it. There is interesting detail to be picked out after ten or more listens, but not everyone will get that far, and those who don't cannot be blamed for giving up. "Tomorrow We Die Alive" is a beautifully executed album, and boasts as accomplished a production job as you'll hear from a metal band this year, but the songwriting lacks that little bit of soul needed to pull it north of average.