Revolver teamed with Born of Osiris for an exclusive vinyl colorway of their new album, Angel or Alien, which sold out immediately. Head over to the store now to see our full selection of extremely limited vinyl offerings.
"The angel represents something that you love and then the alien represents something you don't know yet. So you're figuring out this passage between those two things."
That's Born of Osiris keyboardist/vocalist Joe Buras talking about the conceptual struggle at the heart of "Angel or Alien" — the title track from the Chicago-based progressive metalcore act's new and sixth album. Created in the months before March 2020's lockdown, Angel or Alien explores the themes of loss and rebirth, concepts that were directly inspired by events in the musicians' life. Prior to the recording, both Buras and vocalist Ronnie Canizaro experienced the dissolution of long-term relationships and were grappling with their respective pain.
"I think a lot of this record was about loss and the process of it," says Buras, "knowing that loss is coming, preparing for it, or that you're angry it's going to happen."
Both musicians channeled their emotions into their art and found catharsis creating Angel or Alien … and then the pandemic hit. "It was just kind of this crushing feeling," Buras says of what he experienced when the stay-at-home orders were issued and live shows ground to a halt. "We had a couple of tours lined up in March and in the spring with DragonForce. So, it was a blow — it sucked."
Angel or Alien's 2020 release was ultimately bumped and Born of Osiris, like the rest of the world's population, rode out the remainder of the year as best they could. Today, in June 2021, things are looking up. Much of the U.S. is re-opening, tours are getting booked and Angel or Alien is back on track for its release this July via Sumerian Records. And Buras couldn't be happier that their creation is finally about to see the light of day.
"This is probably the longest we've worked on a record even though some of the songs have been written for a while," says Buras of Angel or Alien. "I think people are going to like it!"
We recently caught up with Buras over Zoom to discuss the emotional experience of creating Angel or Alien, how he kept sane during the quarantine — and why he can't seem to stop breaking bones.
LET'S STEP BACK TO MARCH 2020. YOU HAD COMPLETED ANGEL OR ALIEN, AND THEN THE PANDEMIC HIT. WALK US THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE.
JOE BURAS Our singer [Ronnie Canizaro] and I were going through some loss during the transition from 2019 to 2020, when we were working on the record. So, we were getting all this stuff done and the inspiration, lyrics and other things that we were writing about were really flowing from a great place. We got the record done in February and we were going to release it that summer. And then boom, March happened, and I moved back to Chicago from California. And, you know, a lot of things changed obviously for everybody.
YOU MENTIONED YOU AND RONNIE EXPERIENCED LOSSES THAT INSPIRED THE THEMES ON ANGEL OR ALIEN. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE GOING THROUGH?
Both Ronnie and I were in some really long-term relationships that kind of ended at the same time. We leaned on each other, vocally, and had some of the same feelings. We could totally relate, so our heads just came together.
I think a lot of this record was about loss and the process of it: knowing that loss is coming, preparing for it, or that you're angry it's going to happen. But then there's the actual sad part when you do lose someone or something and other people can relate to that loss as well, no matter what they're going through. And then there's the after part where you gotta power through it because you can't just roll over in a ditch. You gotta get up.
LETTING GO AND TAKING A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN.
Yeah. But also doing it with purpose and power. Strength.
ANGEL OR ALIEN WAS WRAPPED BY FEBRUARY 2020 — AT THIS POINT YOU MUST BE ANXIOUS FOR IT TO FINALLY SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.
Exactly. We've been sitting on it for a while and even there's a few songs on the record that were supposed to be on [2019's] Simulation. At one point we were going to do a Simulation part one and two. We decided instead to make a nice, big, new idea — something fresh. I'm really glad we did it that way.
WERE THERE ANY LEFTOVER SONGS FROM THE SIMULATION MATERIAL THAT WEREN'T RIGHT FOR THIS NEW "FRESH" DIRECTION?
Definitely. There are some really techie ones that we wrote — kind of very progressive, really fast and changing constantly. Those just didn't feel right for this record. So they're definitely on ice and we hope to use them maybe one day. We'll see. I mean even from Angel early on, there's a few that didn't quite make the cut, but I don't know … It's weird because that happens with most records we do and we've never really gone back. So I don't know if that ice will ever be broken because we already have like a bunch of new songs and you don't want to bring back something from another vibe. And the Simulation songs that we did pick, we picked them intently. Maybe one day we'll do a B-sides record or something. I've always wanted to do that.
SO THE WORLD GOES INTO CHAOS AND YOU'VE GOT THIS UNRELEASED RECORD. UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH TIME AND YOU'RE WORKING AGAINST THE CLOCK. ALL OF A SUDDEN, PROBABLY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR LIFE, YOU HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. DID YOU GUYS EVER CONSIDER GOING BACK TO THE WELL TO TINKER HERE OR THERE?
No, I feel like we have done all that already. If anything, it was more like, Hey, we're so proud of it. So let's keep writing. As of now we have another half a record or more because of all the time we had. The goal is to put this out, do a year or two on the road with it and then have another record sooner rather than later.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU GUYS TO START TO WRITE AGAIN AFTER YOU REALIZED TOURING WAS GROUNDED FOR 2020? I WOULD IMAGINE THAT AT THE OUTSET THERE WAS A LITTLE BIT OF PARANOIA, SOME FREAK-OUTS AND LOTS OF BAND CONVERSATIONS.
Yeah, definitely. I'm trying to think how long it took … There was this weird period of like, OK we're gonna move the tour a couple of months. And then another couple months, and another. Then it got to the point where all the hopes had fallen, so by that time it was around fall that we were like, Let's start writing again.
I felt like all of us musicians came together and supported each other. Our relationship with Veil of Maya is really close and it was great to just be like, "Hey, we're all going through this. At least we can support each other." I felt that way a lot with friends — close friends in Chicago because I had been living in California for three years and the day I got back was when the lockdown hit. So I was sad about the move because there was some other stuff going on, and then sad that we couldn't tour.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF DURING ALL THIS DOWNTIME?
I'm not the type of person that you can just keep at home. I always want to be out. So I did some traveling and visited friends in Tennessee, Arizona, Hawaii and California. I kept on the move, but it was cool to realize how many people that I can go to for support [that] care about me. It was a cool reminder of the relationships that I've built as a touring musician around the U.S. That was really important.
SO WHILE WE'VE BEEN TALKING, I'VE NOTICED THAT YOUR HAND IS BANDAGED UP … WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?
[Laughs] So 2021 has been interesting for me. The day after Christmas, I went out to Colorado and broke my collarbone — got the surgery in January. When I was out in Hawaii, I got stitches on my arm because I cut myself. And I did some cliff diving and had the whole left side of my body bruised because I accidentally flopped on one of the flips I was trying. And then my wrist came from skateboarding — I landed straight on my wrist, and I thought I had maybe broken it. But I got an X-ray and they said it was just like a small fracture. So I just have to not use it and keep it well. But yeah, this year has just been like ... my body has been like, What are you doing?
FINALLY — WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR FANS THAT ARE PATIENTLY WAITING FOR ANGEL OR ALIEN'S JULY RELEASE?
Go into it with an open heart. This is probably the longest we've worked on a record even though some of the songs have been written for a while. I think people are going to like it — we've been super ecstatic with every little piece that's been released so far.