When a very popular online metal magazine interviews your band and your bass player confesses — or, more accurately, brags — that he's never heard of Glenn Danzig, you have to expect some negative reactions in the comments section. Of course, when your band is Chicago-bred metalcore act Born of Osiris, and your debut full-length A Higher Place rockets into position No. 73 in the Billboard 200, your profile might be raised a bit, drawing to the scene of the crime all kinds of pissed-off music fans who've never even heard of you. Well, that's exactly happened with the poor lads in Born of Osiris.
Even the band's fans seemed to scratch their heads. After all, how can guys who play such complex, encyclopedic, and mind-blowing music be so ignorant of its history? Indeed, Born of Osiris walks the finest of lines between supersize technical death metal and epic, cosmic-powered prog-rock. So how could the band claim with a straight face to have avoided the fellow responsible for the Misfits, arguably one of the most influential American punk bands of all time? Was it a joke done to irritate punks?
"Not at all. Our bassist David [Darocha] honestly didn't know," Born of Osiris guitarist Lee McKinney laughed during a recent interview. "Personally, I was very much into punk growing up, and I have always loved Danzig. But our bassist ... well, he had never heard of the man or his music. And I can understand the insane reaction. Danzig has a real place in people's hearts. He's got a song in Guitar Hero II, and we were playing it on the bus the other day. Our bassist learns quickly, because he instantly recognized it: 'Hey, that's Danzig, isn't it, guys.'"
Now that one of the best and brightest bands in extreme music is being educated on music courtesy of a video game, there won't be any obstacles in the way of achieving greatness. Unless you consider Born of Osiris keyboardist Joe Buras to be more of a liability than a secret weapon. In between vocalist Ronnie Canizaro's mid-range growl and drummer Cameron Losch's devastating breakdowns, Buras finds enough space to get all Rick Wakeman (that's the Yes keyboardist, in case you don't know) on listeners' ears, with sweeping, cinematic runs that add whole new dimensions to the average metalcore formula. Indeed, more than one critic has characterized the approach as "Danny Elfmanesque."
"The Elfman comparison is always interesting," said McKinney. "Actually, it's our drummer Cameron who's the big-time Elfman fan," McKinney admitted. "He helped put the new album's intro song together. It's a great mood setter and very atmospheric."
Atmosphere and ambience are only one part of the Born of Osiris equation, however. The other consists of mind-scrapingly perilous guitar blasts emitted by McKinney and his fellow ax-man Tosin Abasi; together they don't so much perform as dangerously flirt with carpal tunnel syndrome.
But how did the band manage to get the attention of small-but-celebrated California indie label Sumerian Records when everyone was still in high school? "They found us on MySpace randomly," McKinney said. "At the time, our lyrics were on the less serious side, because we were all sixteen years old. The lyrics were all jokes, we were all juniors in high school and had nothing to say. 'Are you guys serious?' the label asked us. 'If not, can you be?'"
So Born of Osiris got real serious. Once you endure a lethal track like "Elimination" from A Higher Place, with its crushing, off-kilter rhythms and elegant keyboard flourishes, you'll feel like the band's namesake, an Egyptian god of the underworld adrift on a ship of gold and directed straight at the sun.
After seeing the band live, Sumerian signed McKinney and crew. It was the final test, and Born of Osiris passed with an A-plus. A Higher Place cinches the band an advanced degree. Now if only Sumerian had administered a test on Punk and Metal Artists 101, a notion that causes the young guitarist to laugh again. "We have more to say now that we're no longer teenagers," he said. "But we probably still have more to learn about the history of music."