With Changes, Pittsburgh's Osaris serves up a steaming platter of meat-and-potatoes post-grunge: ponderous vocals riding high on metallic riffs, with a Sabbath influence processed through Godsmack and sprinkled with moody Tool touches.
Changes' strength lies in the group's considerable instrumental prowess: Chris Balana and Brian Demagall unleash some startling, Ibanez-school metal guitar, while fleet-fingered Steve Zummo's melodic bass solo introduces the album. Mike McGivern's complex drumming is impressive and arty throughout, while vocalist Demagall has the tone for Osaris' style: an angsty blend of Aaron Lewis and latter-day Chris Cornell.
"Home" stands out from the album's ten tracks â€” an anthem that strives for "November Rain" mopey machismo, with a little (quite good) Slash-style guitar work. The song takes the perspective of a soldier stationed in Iraq, writing to the folks: "Torn and broken is what I've become / left with memories that I can't overcome / a silhouette of a place once past / That I'll keep holding on, never gone."
If I'm using a lot of "sounds like" comparisons here, it's because the record seems a fairly accomplished and literal amalgamation of popular tastes and common emotions, rather than an adventure in individuality or eccentricity. And that's OK.
Here's what I mean: Osaris describes itself as "a group of artists who understand and believe that their music and messages are shared universal experiences with their fans." In that, Changes takes a gamble: the pursuit of universality translates into nearly interchangeable lyrics (pain, broken dreams, struggle, loss, repeat).
Sure, everyone can "relate" to songs with almost no detail or specificity. But what the hell does "I Am the Walrus" mean? "All Along the Watchtower"? Dunno. But both illustrate that millions of people can also relate to the weirdest things.