Born Under Sirius – Born Under Sirius (2012)
Born Under Sirius are an unsigned blackened death metal band from Wisconsin. I have been aware of them for some years – I am friends with the guitarist/vocalist, and he sent me some demos for this album a few years back. To finally see it made public in full, properly produced, is pretty awesome. This is true underground metal – three guys making music for the sheer love of it, nothing more. Joe (the guitarist) has been knocking about the Wisconsin scene for years, and I’m sure he has some right tales, but those will have to wait for the interview.
The album is a space opera, with the lyrics posted on their website fleshing out the story. It is pretty bleak fare – apocalyptic earth has been abandoned, one crew-member metes out his delusions on the rest of the survivors on their space-ark, and he in turn meets insanity and a primordial end on terra nova. Or does he…? It is bleak, philosophical and learned – just the way death metal of this sort should be. Anyway, I don’t do it justice here – take a read!
As already stated, Born Under Sirius are not purebred death metal – they have a lot of black metal in them as well, in the vocals and some of the arrangements. Hell, I swear that at times I hear Immortal in this, perhaps even Emperor! There’s also a superb heavy metal underbelly as well – Joe provides solid riffs throughout has a firm grasp on the value of guitar solos. He uses them tactically and economically, delivering just what is required.
The bassist and drummer are damn good as well – a cracking backline with very interesting rhythms, able to deliver some awesome fills and at one point some brutal china work. At no point does any one instrument become overbearing – everything is nicely balanced in the mix and in the composition, as things should be with a power trio. The bass punches through nicely, but not in an overbearing fashion, the drums track along, everything crisply audible, and the guitar holds pride of place up front. For an ‘amateur’ production, this is damn good (I use amateur in the sense that there is no label money behind this, no professional studio, so far as I know).
In addition to Immortal and Emperor, I hear stacks of Nile and Absu in this, facets of Mithras, Morbid Angel, Metallica (one particular song reminds me of Battery). The vocals are a savage, throaty rasp – cold, dispassionate, suiting the individual whose words the vocalist is channelling. The arrangements are superb – every song is under 4 minutes, but they seem to last longer, you seem to get lost in the structures, in the lyrics, in the atmosphere. The intro and the outro in particular are epic.
The album is mid-paced in the main, but again, it suits the lyrics and it suits the sort of music played. Again, the heavy metal vein restricts it to mid-paced, and I welcome that. It is only a 23 minute long album, but it has the calibre of many twice, three times its length. Some of the time changes are genius, though at times silence lasts a little too long between song sections for my liking. Another criticism would be that there is no clear distinction on the lyrics page of what lyrics are actually sung and which are just there for context. This of course is easily fixed and as such is more a quibble than a criticism.
More than anything else though, more than the deceptively simple riffs, the heavy metal underbelly, the tremendous musicianship, this is, to my ears, an incredibly accessible album. There is so much here that a new listener to extreme music would appreciate, as well as elements that would challenge, rather than terrify them. I fear this sentiment of accessibility may be read as a criticism – it is not meant as one, but instead as a compliment.
So, give it a listen. Download the mp3s. Perhaps sling some dollars Joe’s way so that he can buy some food for his cats and bullets for his Glock, and more than anything else, spread the word about Born Under Sirius.
85/100, or 4/5
Born Under Sirius webpage - links to their various FB/reverbnation/myspace sites available within, as well as download links for the album itself.