Surfing Constellations with Between The Buried And Me @ The Royale

Let me just say first and foremost: I HATE THE ROYALE. I mean, it’s got fine shows (Converge, Title Fight, some shows I didn’t go to so I won’t list them, etc.), and the staff seems nice enough. But by Jove, the dance floor kills me; it’s a monument to fucked architecture and careless nightclub floor planning. Normally I can stand behind a pit, no problem, but it’s quite another thing to have to step down and find a safer locale, or get knocked down, which I’m sure hasn’t happened yet, miraculously. Harshes my mellow big time, bro. This show was sold out too, so you know it was sweaty and all kinds of precarious. Proceed.

Speaking of things I can’t stand, I’m sorry; I just can’t get into Ottawa, Canada’s The Kindred.

Yoinked with respect to Chris Romano, because I’m a thief with honour.

Just look at this picture, and I’ll give you 5 seconds to tell me why you should already be suspicious.

Okay time’s up.

The frontman’s pose; look familiar? Like perhaps that of the frontman of the band THEY WERE OPENING FOR!?!?!?!

Oh.

Shit. Thanks, Chris Martin, for involuntarily helping me illustrate elegantly my point.

Now, I’d be able to overlook this fact if the singer didn’t also have a markedly similar handsome-prog-metal-guy haircut that Tommy Rogers has, and also be in a band that sounds shockingly, nay, appallingly like BtBaM, Protest The Hero, The Contortionist (sans black-hole chuggz). Their main saving grace is that they’re not djent, but I’m still unmoved by their lack of creativity as far as writing songs with a tendency toward intermittency. Also, that “Eyya eyya eyya ehhh!?!” chant during Heritage just kinda annoys me, dunno why. Though I do appreciate that the frontman is willing to jump into the crowd not once, but twice, to bookend the energy level. Charisma ain’t all it takes, though, boys.

On to the part of the show that I paid for; Intronaut. More like IntroNUTS, because I was bustin’ em.

Mind Inversion? Sho u rite.

Heavy as a ten ton rock, smooth as a carven ancient megalith of strange, lucid stone. Intronaut’s ability to capture smooth jazzy sensibilities and fuse them with chunky polyrhythmic battering is universally liked, and that’s a fact. Though if you do dislike Intronaut, please tell me, I’ll just ignore you.

I’m not really huge into Post-Metal but Intronaut is one of those bands alongside perhaps Jesu that I can find myself getting the urge to jam. In fact, I was briefly but fiercely obsessed with their single “Australopithecus” off Prehistoricisms, which is rather ancient now, I suppose, so fitting title. They were genius then, and it seems they still are, even if they’ve dialed back the heavy element considerably and seem to be focusing entirely on clean vocals and expanding their more Gordian Knot/Cynic tendencies. Needless to say, I dig it, and I’ll be giving Habitual Levitations a good hard listen til my ears are burnished into sensibility. Maybe then I’ll quit listening to Papa Roach, because that rots my brain so much I can sometimes scarcely type these worfs.

They had lazers and fog, too, which made me wish I was high as fuck, but maybe then I’d enjoy it too much. I was happy to hear they pulled out “The Literal Black Cloud”, complete with some newly added cleans, because they’re hepcats now.

Giving us a menthol blast of blackened major key warmth was our favourite band to either pretend we’re not hip to the hype of, or suck the dick of unconditionally, or just fold your arms and scoff at while you busily put spikes into your kvlt battle vest. Obviously, you fall into one of these three extremes in a world of no moderation. Deafheaven.

Brooklyn Vegan worships seitan.

If My Bloody Valentine listened to Heretoir, they’d become Deafheaven. If a group of bored indie/punk kids got ahold of some Burzum records, they’d become Deafheaven. If you take acid and stare into a glass of Sex On The Beach while wearing an Oakland Raiders shirt, you will see with stunning clarity the colour scheme of Sunbather. And if you have an internet connexion, you won’t go a day without seeing that name. I suppose they know that their brand of harmonious, uplifting, shoegaze inflected post-black metal isn’t for those who take black metal as seriously as Catholics do, and they’re fine with that. The massive, surging pit is a testament to how stoked everyone is on them, if anything. Though I must say, less arm flailing during blastbeat sections would probably make more sense next time.

It’s amazing; George Clarke actually talked this time. I didn’t know he was capable of being anything other than an überfancy black-shirted black-gloved maestro when in front of 50+ people staring at him. He’s a nice guy, though, trust me. It is blissful.

And now; Between The Buried And Me. Gee, I guess I already posted a picture earlier, huh? Well, I suppose you can scroll up and we’ll pretend I actually have a clue in this life.

I suppose his marks time number 9 or 10 that I’ve seen these guys, and I don’t forsee it ever getting old. Let me not ramble nonsensically and just wonder why there’s a gigantic space bird thematically representing this prog flagship for this tour? I ain’t sure, but all I know is that Dan Briggs went from the most plain looking member to a straight up superhero.

Actually, the whole damn band seems to have just… evolved. Not just musically, because that’s basically a given if you dig their Wishbone Ash meets Cynic meets The Red Chord or whatever wacky triptych of seemingly incompatible music styles means to you. But they’ve all just shifted from dudes to superdudes.

“Selkies: The Endless Obsession” being the highlight of the set, the only party foul was when someone threw a bottle of water (accidentally or not, I’m not sure) at poor ol’ Dustie during “Obfuscation”, which made him stop playing as he checked to see if he would be electrocuted or if the guitar would continue working normally. As you can guess, since this isn’t an R.I.P. Dustie post, he continued playing, albeit with a slight “the fuck was that?” face for a few minutes as he continued to rock into the night. Welcome to Boston; it sucks, sorta. Okay, a lot. But it was a great show, and that’s all that matters, because I’m sentimental like that.

Substance(s) consumed: Sadly only one PBR, courtesy of Mike Gavin, who exists on the internet and apparently, real life. Cheers to that guy, motherfucker!

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My God, It’s Full of Slams! Wormed at the Cambridge Elks Lodge

Best Death Metal event in Boston this year, they said. I’ll say, that’s about right. All I know is that after that night I wanted war with the makers of Busch Light for calling what they sell “beer”.  One could be hard-pressed to say that even Morbid Angel, happening right now as I suffer from burning eyes as a predictable aftereffect from David Firth cartoons and the imminent, if not already occurred, passing of my own grand-mère, will not top the sheer international wow-factor. Bands from both Spain AND Japan stopping by a venue the size of a rich man’s living room to absolutely level it with slabs of riff that the old masters couldn’t have imagined being a thing in our world. Come a long way from Ripping Corpse and Possessed, we have. And now the monsters of the past have something to growl in approval of.

Opening were hometown heroes and probably one of the more interesting acts around, Parasitic Extirpation, showing all the nerds that technical and unrelentingly brutal can be a combination. “Vertical Human Splicing” and “Drifing With The Dead” brought it straight to the face, and a whole host of other tracks I don’t know the name of because I don’t speak brutal growl were also delectable sides to this meaty music mountain. I was quite hungry at the time this was written.

Cognitive of New Jersey were aight. A brief melodic moment during their first or second song was the most captivating thing they played, but otherwise they were relatively inoffensive death metal filler. Kind of like a disappointing entrèe (there we go again) to fellow statesmen in Condemned, whose heaviness and tightness of sound had me altogether quite engrossed. They’re so radiantly good at death metal that one of their guitarists, who is bald, had on a Gold’s Gym sweater and I could still tell he was at least going to the show. Vocalist Angel was also funny, but I forget what he said, so take my word for it. Their most recent outing, Realms of the Ungodly, is an exercise in slamming brutal death metal done right. “Embodied In Elms Of Eternal Misery” and “Forged Within Lecherous Offerings” in particular are what a lot of modern DM bands should take notes on. Legit. Cephalotripsy (Angel’s other project) would do well to either start sounding like Condemned, or just stop existing. There’s no turning back.

String theory is all the buzz here

The “surprise” of the night, not because they were good as expected, but better, was Tokyo’s Infernal Revulsion, bringing some Japanese brutality and sickness that fucks with deathcore, meaning that old-school mashup of hardcore rhythms and Dying Fetus-esque technicality. Hell, one of their songs almost sounded like a rip-off of the aforementioned in its beginning bars, but that’s beside the point. While it would be easy to catch wind of their existence and cast them off as another J-Waking The Cadaver wannabe a-la Gorevent, one of their guitarists does sport a Between The Buried And Me Shirt, and their sound could be likened to Vomit Remnants, who are tight as hell. Plus, they’re from Japan, and it takes a special kind of lacklustre to say that any band hailing from that magnificent land can be anything short of “pretty sweet”.

And for the crème-de la quantum-crème, Wormed, with their entirely atypical yet righter-than-many style of progressive death metal caving in your skull. The weapon of choice; a hardcover version of The Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, because it is as mind-bending and maddening as it is enlightening.

The main factor separating Wormed from their similarly heavy peers in the genre is their lyrical subject focus. Most Brutal Death Metal bands speak lovingly of torture, (oft violent) non-consensual sex, necromantic activity of the amorous kind, sickness (spiritual, mental and physical), and of course, good ol’ fashioned homicide, to list just a few key topics on which one may base their criminal thesis. Wormed, however, looks to the sky and in theoretical textbooks for their inspiration, and are concerned with much more frightening subject matter. When one stops to consider it, life in an environment as hostile, unpredictable, and everchanging as space would be much more scary than the idea of being disembowelled, because at least then you canimagine the type of torments you will undergo before a slow and painful death. Maybe in space you’ll be doomed with the responsibility of rebuilding humanity or being sucked through a black hole to pop into another universe, where untold horrors and wonders await.

So moving onto the actual music, it fucking crushes, and is progressive, but doesn’t dip into any noodling to get the point across that the music is challenging. After over a decade of waiting for the true successor to the already ear-opening Planisphærium, came Exodromos, and the abyssal madness has been able to continue. Breakdowns and slams that hearken back to Suffocation and Cryptopsy, inspiring moves of fist completely independent of any book learning; drum patterns as dense and chaotic as those in Defeated Sanity, though with a more scientific and measured; all interspersed with samples and atmosphere that makes one visualize cold holographic displays and the burnt out husks of spaceships, the beeping and flaring of control panels, and the unintelligible gurgled colloquy opened by uncanny, fibrous monsters, supplied in vocal form by vocalist Phlegeton. If the sci-fi/horror game franchise Dead Space were a metal album, it’d be written by Wormed.

The female robotic voice naming each track only helped one feel as though they were like Major Tom in “Space Oddity”, floating without hope save for a disembodied vocal presence.  If any band can claim to have captured all the uncertainty and violence of physics in empty cosmos, then it is Wormed. One can only discover what awaits by listening. Highlights of the set included “Undeciphering The Inquantificability”, “Geodesic Dome”, “Tunnel of Ions”, and the whole new album. Everything else was just a bonus.

So after being mathematically flattened and then multivectorally ionized, I returned homeward with the true Spaniard in tow, and we both regretted our neglecting to try for a photo op. A Spaniard With The Spaniards deal, perhaps. Better luck whenever, perhaps.

The The The The The. Between the Buried and Me at the Palladium

How does one classify Four Loko? It’s certainly not beer; it tastes far too good for that. It’s not vodka; it’s got the telltale fizz and lack of gasoline aftertaste. It’s certainly not whiskey because it doesn’t taste like hellfire. I’ll just say that it’s the blood of Dionysus and leave it at that. Boy, is it good. Especially if you haven’t eaten, then it just goes straight to your damn face.

So in the entirely wrong mindset I went to see Between The Buried And Me. In a familiar moment of brilliance I realised that every band on this tour has the word ‘the’ in their name. Wow. The definite article is king. Some grammarian make a punny joke about that. I digress.

There was no question about my attendance with this one right here. I had the funds, I had the time, and I still have a huge space in my heart for these North Carolinian wizards whose music is like off-Broadway musicals meet Opeth meet Pink Floyd meet Cave In meet João Gilberto meets Dream Theater if they were good meets Botch meets Freddy Murcury. It’s a clusterbomb/fuck of influences that all somehow manages to make writing 20 minute songs excusable in my mind.

But for the openers, because a good review is chronological, should the universe allow me to experience it in such a fashion, and it normally does. The Safety Fire from London (like you didn’t assume they were already, because I sure did and I was right) were an okay primer for what was to come. They play a relatively inoffensive kind of prog metal meets metalcore and some poppy-esque sensibilities. This we call ‘djent’, usually, but some people would rather me not. If I see a duck, I’ll have to call it a hang-glider, which I suppose is technically correct if you feel like a duck while hang-gliding. Don’t be obnoxious to wildlife.

They’ll drink to that.

After that little musical handy wrapped up, The Contortionist, now officially rollin’ [blunts] with Mike Lessard of fellow progressive and high-minded –in both ways– Last Chance To Reason, stuck entirely to their mindblowing new album, Intrinsic, which just about raised the bar on everything they’ve done on Exoplanet, which was marvellous in its own right. It’s like if elevator music were heavy, but in the best way one could possibly mean it. Simultaneously light, airy, and melodic, yet crushing at a moment’s whim, without the gaps and awkwardness that could come from a lesser band trying to transition from asteroids colliding to doing heroin on an armchair. Hearing “Cortical” live was just too good of a treat, and I hope that while they bring back the oldies on future tours, they keep dazzling my ears with their introspective steaze.

The Faceless have dropped into odd territories with their latest album, Deconsecrate, and have essentially become the fat fedora atheists (FFA’s) that one oft encounters vomiting pseudo-intellectual babble onto a forum somewhere, and making themselves hard to agree with even if you share their general viewpoint. I’m all for hailing science, but I wouldn’t write a song or make a shirt about it.

Come on.

But despite this, I’ll always still hold a soft spot for The Faceless on the basis that their first two releases were just sooooo good. And “The Eidolon Reality” was a pretty killer track before it was fucked with until the chorus was so unrecognisably cut up by the dull blades of an overzealous audio technician that it is now the audio equivalent of Joan Rivers’ face. And in that statement I believe I am somehow implying that there was ever any good to be found in JR’s mug to begin with. Other than that, I just found myself patiently appreciating the actually heavy parts of the new songs and revelling in nostalgia during “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Xenochrist”, but still sad to see a band I once obsessed over become just an auxiliary band that will play second hurdy-gurdy to something I’m actually stoked on.

And how could one not be stoked on Between The Buried And Me, who are probably one of the three metal bands out of North Carolina that aren’t sludge or doom?

Busting out the entirety of Parallax 2: Future Sequence? Why yes, I’ll come down and peep that right quick.

There’s no such thing as a ceiling when it comes to BtBaM’s sound. It will always continue getting weirder, and the concepts progressively more spacey. They are spacemen. At least I say they are. It’s a marvel that they do this without prolonged exposure to LSD and/or shrooms or just really potent weed.

Regardless of nonexistent narcotics, they’ve still got grandiose compositions swirling around in their collective head, with enough artistry as warrants growing a scraggly beard and maintaining a mellow aura despite the music being a mad mix of progressive death metal, hardcore, and cosmic soft rock textures that would send any lesser man cackling into a garret. Scoff with thinly veiled derision if thou may, but taking this whole (awesome) new album to the face in a live setting has just reminded me how much I love these guys. From the metallized surf of “Bloom”, to the powerbombing breakdowns of “Telos”, the epic headbang territory of closer “Silent Flight Parliament”, etc. etc. I’m going to not nerd out, here. It was a good show (great show, even), and we’ll leave it at that.

And Fizzle.

I Lack A Sense Of Purpose: In Flames at the House of Blues, 10/3/2009

I pledged to myself several months ago that I wouldn’t put this off any longer, mainly cos life is uncertain and if I have to wait ’til next October… well frankly I don’t know if I’ll die or not. So before some punk decides to run up and smoke me with a Mac 10 as I walk home, I’ll write this account of what can be called my first showgoing experience, excluding Madonna, because what can I really say about that? It’s Madonna, nothing mindblowing happened, and someone probably did coke backstage, but that’s all speculation. Since In Flames is playing the House Of Blues again soon, it seems appropriate to dredge up this tale of naïvetè, with no holds barred.

Since this was my first ever Metal show, I could say with certainty that I was almost breathless at seeing so many people with the same musical taste as me gathered in one place at the same time. So many heathens bearing the logos of their favourite bands, most Satanic, cryptic to anyone not in the crowd, or just blatantly offensive. I wore my Behemoth shirt, because it was probably my most extreme at the time, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t wear it with some amount of pride, despite getting it at Hot Topic. Looking across the street and making fun of the “normies” going to see the Red Sox game is always a great pastime for those waiting to get beer spilled on them and violently collide with sweaty men for a few hours. It’s a fair cop, I suppose, spending some hard-earned cash from an extra-cirricular program to buy pain, tinnitus, and morning-after soreness in the neck, back, and legs enough to make waking up a Herculean task.

After marvelling at all of the other black-shirted monstrosities surrounding me, I inched my way toward the door, practically shaking with excitement. At the time, I hadn’t heard much by The Faceless, but I was stoked for 3 Inches Of Blood, In Flames, and most of all, Between The Buried And Me. Hell, I watched their Silent Circus bonus DVD with live footage twice just to get in the right mood. Of course, not being battle-ready and pit hardened, I was nowhere near as adept at any of the manœuvers I had witnessed in some live footage I had seen, but more on that later. It’s hilarious.

When I finally entered the venue after being felt up by the ever-so-friendly security, I was just barely able to contain myself. I immediately half-ran, half-walked up to the massive stage, taking in the sheer immensity. Here I was, after listening to this music for years, finally getting a chance to see how it’s done in real life. I made a five-minute friend, which is exactly how it sounds: You meet someone, you complement one another’s shirts, tell them who you’re there for, talk about the bands on your shirts, and drift off into something else until the band begins sound-check and it becomes too loud to hear normal speech.

It was this very occurrence that cut my engrossing Buckethead conversation with Andrew short, since The Faceless were revving up and about to blow a Tech-Death load all over our faces. Note that in lieu of the professionally taken pictures that I normally post, they shall all be photos I took with my then incredibly inept cellphone, complete with the streak effect that comes with poor motion capture.

 

At that time, Planetary Duality had just recently been released, so naturally they based their setlist mainly in that album. Having only listened to “Leica” and “An Autopsy”, and not even being particularly learned in those, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the action. Sensing air turbulence behind me I wheeled around to witness people throwing down madly to the breakdown sections. I was simultaneously enthralled and frightened, having never seen it in person. A veritable sea of flailing fists and legs I decided wisely to not entangle myself in. I was immediately sold, especially after hearing the tastefully melodic “Sons Of Belial” (the clean vocals were a big plus), the evil Carnival tinged “Legions Of The Serpent”, and of course, the energy displayed by both the band and the crowd. I stole Planetary Duality a few days later, and became a fan. I showed my appreciation by immediately going to the merch table… and buying an In Flames tour shirt.

Up next were Speed Metal freax 3 Inches Of Blood, bringing to the table lots of loud noises and songs about battle with various mythical creatures and non-Metalheads.

 

I went in without a terribly great knowledge of 3 Inches Of Blood’s discography, and if asked today how many songs by them I even moderately know, that number would be only several higher. However, one doesn’t need to know the songs when going to see 3 Inches, but just be prepared to run in circles for the duration of the set. It was at this point I can say that I had my first collaboratively Metal experience in the real world, being a part of the Goatrider’s Horde, brandishing tooth and fist against the indomitable forces of mainstream pop culture. It was a glorious dithyramb of Heavy Metal debauchery, marred only by my losing the In Flames shirt in a circle pit. Luckily I have that same shirt, though a few sizes smaller than I originally bought, through an act of charity by Christian, my best friend at the time who was with me, which I thank him endlessly for.

With spirit undampened due to Between The Buried And Me setting up, I took my place in the crowd, virtually shaking with the anticipation of being able to witness my favourite band.

 

Upon hearing the opening notes of “All Bodies”, I instantly ran into the pit, colliding with any knave foolish enough to be in my way. I was embarrassingly green when it came to moshing of any kind, so I aped the techniques of those around me, including an uncannily Godawful floorpunch. Realizing the silliness of it all, I went back to shoving people. The great thing about Between The Buried And Me is that there’s no shortage of people to sing along to the clean sections with. “People of the stars” we are indeed.

Selkies: The Endless Obsession made an appearance, and I damn near cried. My favourite band playing my favourite song? Pinch me, Mister Ho, I think I huffed too much propane. The only real downer was that people continued moshing to the outro solo. Thus, I learned that some BtBaM fans are not exempt from being as stupid as everyone else. Their then new song Obfuscation was played, which made me a little sad at the time, but since it was a good enough song, I went along with it and watched the band in their fine-tuned ministrations. Tommy leapt around the stage, never once losing energy or spirit, and the crowd reacted in kind. Paul and Dustie’s dual guitars wrapped around one another with the majesty of the Caduceus, and Blake’s drumming resounded in my chest as it never could on record. It was a sensory heaven, aside from the smell of spilled beer and fat man sweat.

The Foam Born series was where my burgeoning mosh-warrior re-awakened and slew some more posers. White Walls made me tingle from start to finish, especially when the entire crowd chanted “Get. Out. Of. This. Closed. Off. Cir. Cle.” In unison. It was at this moment I realized the power that comes from seeing such a great band live. Sure, you can imagine it, but nothing beats being there. By some amount of luck I managed to not be knocked out during the ending breakdown, since it was a veritable tempest of frenetic rushing in and out of the areas quickly becoming safe and unsafe. There was nowhere to hide, and it was great.

It seemed almost impossible that In Flames could live up to my favourite band, even though they were my second favourite. Now they are my third, following Dir En Grey after a rather shameful bout of conduct, what with releasing Sounds Of A Playgound Fading… Whatever, the fact of the matter is, they played, and it was fun.

 

After a set-up time that even I could tell was somewhat abnormal, they launched into “Cloud Connected:, which caused the entire venue to jumpdafuckup. Quite a good time, at least in my mentality at the time. I shouted along every word, since it was quite simple and I listened to it frequently for a quick fix of headbanging action. Looking back, I realize now that a lot of the moshing during the set was completely incongruous to what was being played. Sure, faster songs like “Drifter” and “Pinball Map” can get a circlepit treatment, but the choruses of “Come Clarity” and “Alias”? Makes me want to place my head upon the nearest brick wall for not knowing that was a silly thing to do. The oldest song they played was “The Hive”, which I am certain some sucka MCs thought was a cover of “Right Side Of The Bed” by glamcore stalwarts Atreyu. My generation fails me.

I may not have the same amount of respect for In Flames’ more recent output now, but I’ll be damned if Anders isn’t an entertaining frontman. He cracked jokes, complemented shirts, and was all around a showman at heart. Guitarist Niklas Engelin, presumably taking a break from Engel, was filling in for Björn and sporting a cheesy Red Sox shirt, which begs the question as to whether he wore the shirt of a local sports team at every stop. Björn at that time in the process of being kicked out of the band for being a drunk fuck. We’ll miss ye, as you were the only thing keeping the band from making Sounds Of A Playground Fading. But it is too late. Oh, it is far too late…

By the time the set was nearly over I was almost dead tired from running in circles, pleading to the gods they wouldn’t play “Take This Life”, because by that time I had figured that a huge circlepit would break out and joining would be mandatory. Take a guess as to what happened? Oh yes, I was quite thirsty afterward, that’s for sure.

This concludes this stroll through memory lane, I hope you hated it. I still look fondly upon this event in my mind and almost shed a tear. No, not because it’s a sentimental thing, but because I was such a damn dork. Imagine me floorpunching in a Behemoth shirt with some shitty worn-out Adidas. Time to go drink to my newfound awesomeness.

In all seriousness (kind of), this show may not have been logistically the best I’ve ever attended, but the fact that it served as my gateway into all the countless others I would go on to see at the Palladium, assorted Allston basements, and even as far as Maryland Deathfest, it’ll remain on top for some time to come. Until next time, where I’ll review something that happened relatively recently.

ALBUM REVIEW: BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME

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.

Spacin’ out.

The Verdict: Worship at the altar of Prog

Grade: A+
By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese