Band: Between The Buried And Me
Album: The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Genre: Progressive Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
Every now and then a metal band comes along that carves out their one very special niche in the music world, a band that is virtually without peers. Between The Buried And Me is one of these bands. From the very first full-length they released (their self-titled back in 2002, if you’re counting) it was pretty clear that BTBAM weren’t just your average metalcore band. In today’s metal landscape, BTBAM are one of few bands that the progressive genre tag truly applies to. Cresting at Colors in 2007, BTBAM remain ever steadfast in the face of musical stagnation, much to the delight of their fans and metal world.
Beginning in typical Between The Buried And Me fashion (sounds like an oxymoron, I know), the opening track from The Parallax II: Future Sequence begins in a very low-key manner: this time with Tommy Rogers just singing over an acoustic guitar, then in comes the horn section crescendo behind the two. “Astral Body” comes in next and we’re back into the metal world. As expected, the album floats in and out of heavy parts, interspersing some pretty peculiar influences and styles along the way. Unlike the middle of their catalog, e.g. Colors, the changes of pace are smooth and not alarming (though obviously noticeable). The first taste of the more “out there” sections comes with the first chorus of “Lay Your Ghosts To Rest” when the song becomes a fun house romp… that is, until it gets really heavy again.
Just as it’s been since 2007, expectations of a modest level of “didn’t see that coming” are met and exceeded with The Parallax II, as are expectations of overwhelming technicality from start to finish. Yet somehow it feels different this time around. It feels more refined, more mature, more enlightened. Given that The Parallax II is the band’s sixth album this shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but with the songwriting and sequencing of the album comes a certain veteran grit that hadn’t really been present for the band until now. Understanding that much of their material, especially the longer tracks, are best served with enough space around them to properly digest BTBAM have constructed an album that does precisely that.
More extraordinary than any of the technical and prowess, however, is how the production manages to fit so much sound into such a heavy package without losing anything in the mix. Even the bass, something many metal bands have ducked in the mix, can be heard throughout the entire album. All of the guitars, synths, drums, cymbals, keyboards, samples, textures, etc. are all given the ideal amount of space and volume in the mix which allows the listener the ideal circumstance to best digest the monolithic slab of music that is BTBAM’s sixth album.
Luckily for Between The Buried And Me, claiming they haven’t really taken their music to any places beyond where they’ve already been still leaves them with a pretty broad swath of styles to explore. Typical, in the BTBAM sense, is atypical to everyone else’s version of typical. Yet another fantastic display of the gargantuan musical imagination of the five gentlemen that comprise BTBAM. While it probably won’t garner the band a litany of new fans, it is the band’s first full-length album with new label Metal Blade Records, it will certainly still please the ears of many listeners (and see itself on many year-end lists). An incredibly tough call to make as a longtime Between The Buried And Me Fan, but The Parallax II: Future Sequence might be the band’s best work to date.
Review By: Jordan Munson