Canadian progressive power/symphonic metallers Osyron bring us their latest release Foundations. Established in 2006 as Morbid Theory, they went through a few lineup and stylistic changes and re-emerged as Osyron in 2012.
Foundations is the band's third album as Osyron and mixes different styles – progressive and symphonic/power metal with elements of folk and middle-eastern influences, also technical elements. It also sounds like they're inspired by film and/or game soundtracks – as is evident in the intro to the opening track 'The Cross', which establishes early on the dramatic and symphonic mood of the album. Perfectly matching this melting pot of influences is the vocalist – Reed – who is like a library of metal vocal styles and draws on these different techniques to great effect; switching between regular cleans, power metal operatics and the odd harsh vocals in both metalcore and black metal styles.
Also of note is the blending of older and more modern influences, the most obvious example being the track 'The Ones Below'. This tracks opens with a bold, swinging and catchy classic/hard rock riff accompanied by hammond organ, giving an old-school 70s feel. They then add in atmospheric keys, power metal vocals and interjecting low chants of 'Hey!' in the chorus; giving it a more contemporary power metal/ folk metal twist.
The overarching theme of this album is a very relevant and topical one for today: the ugly foundations on which today's world has been built; in this case focussing on Canada's history in particular. This can be heard in 'Battle of the Thames', which is about the 1812 battle between invading Europeans and the indigenous Shawnee tribe. This song has a thrumming folky intro with a melody reminiscent of Ensiferum's 'Stone Cold Metal', this is adorned with with poignant piano in the background; it's lamenting sound fittingly matching the tragic lyrics.
Their lyrics may delve into history like bands such as Sabaton and Iron Maiden but are less bogged down in the details of strategy and weaponry as these groups tend to be, focussing more on the horrors and catastrophe of war and invasion. Coupled with their emotive symphonic metal style, this creates a poignant and cinematic effect: less like a war documentary, more like a tragic war film.
'The Cross' addresses crusades and colonialism carried out in the name of religion and nationalism, taking a first person point of view but managing to do so in a non-glorifying way thanks to the ominous vocal delivery, cinematic instrumentation and dark chord progressions. The album's theme reaches a head in the epic title track 'Foundations', which tackles colonialism and its after-effects in a tasteful manner and culminating in a positive message of 'it can't be undone but we can change'. This song is a long one at over 7 minutes but is so full of emotion and instrumental twists and turns that it keeps itself fresh and interesting throughout.
Foundations is only 5 tracks long but doesn't feel too short, it's just as long as it needs to be. The overall result is a memorable, neatly packaged collection of progressive symphonic metal songs (with some other influences artfully woven in), brought together under the umbrella theme of Canada's unsavoury foundations.
Recommended for fans of: Symphony X, Ensiferum, Evergrey, Turisas, Sabaton