*throws confetti in the air*
I'm going to temporarily set aside my PROS/CONS/VERDICT format during this review for a couple of reasons. First, I feel strangely obligated to do something to mark the occasion. Secondly, I think a straightforward collection of paragraphs would better suit this album descriptively.
So let's dive right in, shall we?
Alright, I have to get this off my chest: I was a little let down by this album.
There's a lot more to say about it, but that's my log line for this post. If you just came here for the synopsis, there it is.
Now, on to the specifics.
I heard the first single - "Machine" (which also happens to be the first song in the track list as well) - back in June when they posted it to their YouTube channel. I tend to have a Facebook tab open at work permanently, so the moment that dropped into my news feed I eagerly queued it up. My reaction to the song - and the song itself - is characteristic of the album as a whole. If you've heard it, you know what I'm talking about. If not, have a listen!
It opens dramatically; a violin riff circles around methodical percussive strikes in a style that calls to mind epic movie trailers or the Uruk-Hai's theme from The Fellowship of the Ring. The snare comes in shortly thereafter to signal a build until the introduction gives way to the song's primary punishment; a barrage of palm-muting in structured sequence overlaid by a guitar lead that mimics the violins from the introduction. Canizaro's vocals descend on the listener with the ferocity we've come to expect as he growls "Take another look at yourself! Tell me, what do you see?" It's pretty standard Born of Osiris; it's big and aggressive, there's some nice interplay between sledgehammer riffs and precision shredding, and the ever-present symphonic and electronic elements from keyboardist/vocalist Joe Buras keep everything from being stereotypical deathcore fare. But I found myself simply satisfied with the song, rather than impressed.
I continued on through the album, expecting something a bit more abstract and progressive to define the overall experience. Those progressive and abstract moments are still definitely here - just not in the quantities I personally hoped. For example during "Mindful," a swift little arpeggio-like riff scurries across the listener's ear in defiance of the song's established time signature. "Exhilarate" employs some yell-singing in a refrain that emerges then melds back into the fracas over its 3-and-a-half minute run time. "Absolution" opens on a pretty and delicate minor 7th scale that defines much of the song, but towards the end the riff evolves. From the typical headbanger schtick, a light and hauntingly futuristic melody soars over some djent-y palm muting as the song goes from fairly straight-laced to a more "space-metal" vibe, similar to Chimp Spanner's music.
Born of Osiris is still one of my all-time favorite bands, and I don't regret going to Hot Topic to pick up this album the day it came out. Ok...maybe I regret going to Hot Topic. But Tomorrow We Die Alive is still an album I'm enjoying - I think I like it better even than A Higher Place in terms of track-for-track appreciation. But after the diversity and scope of The Discovery, I just can't escape some mild dismay that this album doesn't really build on what came before.
Tomorrow We Die Alive is epic and anthemic, but more than a little predictable. It's well crafted and technically precise, but at the cost of experimental and bold. It's a strong album, a powerful one - but lacks the brilliance that made previous efforts stand out.
Having said all that, I'm still getting perplexed stares from motorists on the highway who catch me whipping my head around and swiping at the air like an insane person as Tomorrow We Die Alive pours out of my speakers.