The Parallax II: Future Sequence (Metal Blade Records)
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME are a Progressive Metal band from Raleigh, NC, and what I can confidently call my favourite band. These guys have shown, through both timelessly innovative songwriting that draws from an endless bank of influence (THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, CYNIC, CEPHALIC CARNAGE, COUNTING CROWS, QUEEN, and DREAM THEATER to name a few), as well as a commitment to pushing their skill further with every release, they can do no wrong. Aside from the unfortunate mess that was “Roboturner” and a few adorable but lackluster covers on The Anatomy Of, BTBAM have yet to disappoint. So here we stand, the second part of The Parallax series, which shows BTBAM taking on a yet unheard ambition, where Hypersleep Dialogues played more as a continuation of The Great Misdirect, another solid release and a worthy follow-up to the groundbreaking Colors. Parallax II, like Colors, is a single piece of music artfully divided into many, and by Jove, it’s shaping up to be their most epic release yet.
BTBAM is one of those bands that won’t simply rest on their laurels and release album after album of the same material phrased differently. From the breakdown-laden and aggressive self-titled album, the dark and moody Silent Circus, the boundary-breaking and experimental Alaska, the grand and semi-operatic quality of Colors, the decidedly elusive Great Misdirect, and the odd but always welcomed Hypersleep Dialogues, they’ve refused to stick with just one sound, flirting with everything from Death Metal, Grindcore, Bossa Nova, carnival music, show tunes, Deathcore, and of course, Prog, to weave a unique sound that is undeniably progressive. No subject is taboo, no art form too odd, they can make it work. I have suddenly become aware of the fact that I’m borderline hyping this album, but fuck it, it’s living up to it so far.
The Parallax II is yet another splash of vibrance that is the ever-evolving portrait of BTBAM’s sound, from the BEACH BOYS-esque surf of “Bloom”, the punishing semi-Hardcore stomp near the end of “Telos”, the subtle callbacks to “White Walls” seamlessly embedded in “Melting City”, the world-uniting joyous melodies of “Astral Body”, and of course, the ability to balance all of these elements and more is something BTBAM has proven themselves time and time again to be unfairly adept at. Tommy Rogers’ command of both singing and harsh vocals, perfected on Alaska, and improving even more since, betrays no flaw, to say nothing of his increasingly wacky keyboard textures that provide a bonus for the careful listener. Paul Waggoner and Dustie’s dual-guitar assault with dizzying solos, choppy rhythms, and superb note progressions borrowed largely from Eastern music proves to be one of their most stellar performances since Colors. Blake Richardson is able to change his drumming at the drop of a hat, providing both your punishing Metal/Hardcore rhythms and blasts, complete with complex jazz-influenced sections that demand equal parts creativity and focus. Last but certainly not least, Dan Briggs brings his trusty orange fretless bass to complete the picture, with both smooth rhythm as well as his own unique dynamics proving that not all bassists are just kinda there.
if I gush, it’s only because it’s worth gushing over. BTBAM have outdone themselves with this one. As SUM 41 put it, it’s all killer, no filler. Not a note here is misspent or misplayed, not a single song out of place, no heaviness off-putting, no melody too soft. This album, along with SIGH’s insanely layered Insomniphobia, THE ACACIA STRAIN’s impossibly heavy Death Is The Only Mortal, CATTLE DECAPITATION’s misanthropic Deathgrind masterpiece Monolith Of Inhumanity, and THE CONTORTIONIST’s mindblowing Intrinsic, to name a few, is definitely making 2012 one of the best years for extreme music, as far as I can recall. But then again, I’m not usually the most current person, which calls into question the validity of my making such a statement, but new BTBAM just about tops all else, so go buy it and be amazed. I have seen BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME every time they’ve come through my area, and they’ve been Godly every time. If you’re not into them for any reason, hopefully this album will change your flawed mode of thinking.
The Verdict: Worship at the altar of Prog
By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese