Between the Buried and Me is an exciting thing. Wildly aggressive with flashes of melody in a semi-pretentious prog rock shell you say? Was this custom made for nerds who like buying old Nintendo 64’s just to play Starfox while blitzed on hash? I’d like to think the answer to this question is a resounding “Maybe!”
So let’s take a look at their newest effort, a 3 song, 30 minute romp through whatever sort of wooded area it is they like to romp through. It’s called The Parallax Hypersleep Dialogue. The album should’ve been called “Just Random Words.”
1. Specular Reflection – Big ominous orchestral opening, like if Danny Elfman scored a Godzilla film. Can we get Elfman on that, by the way? We do still control the head of Danny Elfman, right? We shift right into the assault, as pounding drums and guitars are belched over top by front man Tommy Rodgers and his usual growl of discontent. Let’s go ahead and hop into some unique breakdowns supported by keyboard and a nice bass presence. At about the 3 minute mark, Rodgers ever improving clean singing breaks through and we get some fun guitar noodling. This lasts about 2 seconds before the bludgeoning resumes and a quick jump right into what I guess could be considered the chorus. If there was ever a radio station that was willing to play 11 minute experimental metal songs, this would no doubt make the top 5 at Five or whatever shitty “counting down songs we already play 3 dozen times a day” gimmick they were using. Let’s prog all over ourselves with some wondering synth and Rodger’s giving us some shockingly effective vocal tricks. Despite all of the wankery, the guitars continue in their usual nasty way, stomping all over Tokyo and condemning the Japanese for how they handled the Ichi The Killer prequel. Growl growl growl, shred shred shred. The drumming is tremendously proficient, at least I think it is as I know nothing of musical theory. Some more musical jacking off and the chorus triumphantly returns for the big finale around the 10 minute mark. Really effective track, as it’d be easy to get lost in 11 minutes of pointlessness, but the boys bring it together well and keep things interesting. ***** Probably the most successful song of their careers actually.
2. Augment of a Rebirth: We should start naming sections of the website like that. The Film reviews can be “A Series of Moving Images, Ingrained by Our Afterbirth” or something else awful I think up while staring sadly into a mirror. Mr. Paul Waggoner’s usual guitar heorics welcome us and away we go. Quick statement on BTBAM’s lyrical style: It’s definitely unique. Rodgers opts to skip bad poetry and instead goes with basically making statements and punctuating them with over the top declarations. For example, if I was in the band and making a sandwich, I would describe it like this: The bread falls open. I reach for the mustard. Maybe do turkey this time. Cheese? Never. I sink my teeth into it’s surface and the future splits in twine within my incisors. Follow me? No? Good. Oh yeah, the song. Much more of a straight forward crushing metal song with a genuine level of heavyness that the kids and their girl pants strive for. Escalation begins as Rodgers overdubbed vocals collide over top of some incessant drumming and the level of brutality makes me take a break to go pour myself some sweet tea. Really great solo at the 5:30 mark that doesn’t wear out it’s welcome, usually the problem with that sort of thing. Jesus, relentless track up to this point. And suddenly, we fall right into an almost polka like dance anthem. Rodgers just kills the delivery, nailing a wonderful semi Freddy Mercury style delivery before shifting back to gagging up his spleen. Moments like that make me love these boys. Blake Richardson, the drummer, must fucking reek after shows because he really is playing his tail off on this thing. And near the end of the song, of course you get a semi epic payoff, clean singing returns and there is no reason NOT to over dramatically sway to this, a lonely reviewer pretending he is falling through the void of time or something. Massive wails of anger finish us off mercifully. **** Not quite the anthem the first track is but still an amazing journey.
3. Lunar Wilderness: Much more relaxed vibe to start this off with bassist Dan Briggs getting to flex a little bit. Growl gives into insanely catchy verse work and that seamlessly shifts into some Mars Volta style guitar theatrics that brings to mind the desert at night in the heart of Atlantis with rambling undertones. Yes. Tommy goes full on death metal cookie monster man for a moment, but reigns it in and returns to his more respectable even tempered howls. At about the 3:55 mark, all hell breaks loose and quickly subsides before regaining steam as synth and what sounds like a xylophone are thrown down a flight of stairs. Running. Out. Of. Descriptive. Terms. Best to just supplement with more sandwich talk. Man, that back up guitar work is fucking pickles on this song. Clean, soothing and miserably sad vocal works follows a massive build up and the effects are striking. “All I’ve loved is gone” has been said about a million times in song form, but the massive scope of it here really gets the unending depression of it all across. The song ends, quietly and somewhat breaks one’s jaded heart. ****½ An amazing piece of business.
Favorite lyric: I turn around and the face of death stares so grim that the lids finally open…
Final Thoughts: A sprawling and yet shockingly easy to digest 30 minute opus that seems more intent on forming cohesive song structures then simply being “weird” (something the band may have been guilty of in the past on a few tracks), this is the band at it’s absolute peak. Pure aggression flowing perfectly into the melody and more explorative natures of the band, a heroic vocal performance and the usual chops of a proficient metal machine make this rambling asshole a happy man. ****½
Now here is a picture of them looking kind of silly.