A weird thing happened in 2013. Chicago-area deathcore quintet Born of Osiris smashed into the Billboard Top 200 charts with their Tomorrow We Die Alive album, coming in above the Lumineers and Lorde, bands distinctly unlike the ultra-heavy and underground metal assault of BOO.
Vocalist Ronnie Canizaro, a 25-year-old whose speaking voice sounds like he’s 17 (his growled vocals in the band are ageless), was surprised, to say the least. Calling from outside the evening’s venue, Atlanta’s Masquerade club, he recalls, “I didn’t expect that, I was very happy. There are more people that are appreciating metal now. There are always fads…I mean, nu metal is what got me into all this: Korn, Slipknot, who are still going strong. I think our band, we never follow the trend or fad, we’ve been on this slow rise with each album, growing, gaining more fans, playing bigger shows. It’s cool to see the progress.”
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That progress began in fourth grade. “As a kid, I loved the drums a lot and my mom bought me a drum set. I met Cameron [Losch, current BOO drummer] in like fourth grade and he was so good, I stopped playing. I was like, ‘I’m gonna be a singer.’ ” Not many kids follow through on youthful whims, but Canizaro did. “I always wanted to be in a band since I was a little boy.” And his first concert? For a band like BOO, it would have to be Metallica or Slayer, right? “Oh, man, this is pretty embarrassing,” he confesses, “but I went to see Hanson with my dad. I really liked that band in third grade. Who didn’t?”
Fortunately, BOO is nothing like any pre-teen trio. Rounded out by guitarist Lee McKinney, keyboard player Joe Buras, and bassist David DaRocha, the band name comes from Egyptian god Osiris — god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, who is often depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, with partially mummy-wrapped legs. Pretty metal. As are BOO, whose dramatic, ultra-melodic, and (on their latest) keyboard-heavy metal is selling out venues all over the U.S.
While Born of Osiris are highly technical, taut, and, of course, speedy and melodic, Canizaro comes off as a remarkably laid-back dude, his speaking voice bearing a touch of SoCal. That said, they’re definitely a product of their Midwestern upbringing, citing Chicago deathcore band (and Sumerian Records labelmates) Veil of Maya as a major influence.
Being that the band’s first record came out when Canizaro was a teenager, he’s aware BOO have musically grown up in public, for better and sometimes worse. “I don’t listen to [2009’s A Higher Place] at all,” he says. “We just don’t like the production and we don’t play any songs live.” Lyrically, duties are shared by Canizaro and keys player Buras, but the singer won’t delve too much into the lyrics — “I don’t want to get into details,” he says, though he admits he’s a huge “sci-fi guy,” and reads Graham Hancock, a writer who explores “ancient civilizations” and myths, which might seep into his lyrics.
Ultimately, the growly frontman is just happy not to be working at Quiznos or UPS anymore. “I’ve been on the road since I was 18. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he admits. “But all I knew was I wanted to be in a band and perform.” Mission accomplished.
Born of Osiris play Sunday, November 2, at the Gramercy Theatre. Showtime, 6 p.m.