Between the Buried and Me
With every album cranked out by the differential equation-obsessed juggernaut that is Between the Buried and Me, the band repeatedly reinforces its status as the most accessible of today’s “difficult” bands. Cephalic Carnage is great and all, but even the most dedicated among the metalhead elite will occasionally want to back off a little.
So it is with BTBAM’s fourth full-length, Colors. The guys have always experimented, and quite successfully so, with the interplay and shift between overwhelming devastation and lilting melodies, but the hypothesis comes to full fruition here.
Every album is an evolution for these dudes, and you can always tell right from the get-go. “Foam Born” opens with Tommy Rogers softly crooning over delicate piano chords, after which it shifts into (who would’ve thought?) something right out of “Pinkerton,” before finally settling into a couple minutes of oddly symphonic metalcore.
“The Decade of Statues,” though far from predictable (you try charting the flight path of a cicada!), probably offers the least amount of surprises. You’ll still be jolted by the occasional signature switch and weird solo break, but then you’ll remember who you’re listening to, and smack yourself for being so absent-minded.
Prog medals are earned all around here for two sprawling epics. The 13-minute “Ants of the Sky” moves from straight-up hardcore, to piano ballad, to unapologetically catchy groove metal, to (of all things) a nice, bluesy David Gilmour-esque solo by Paul Waggoner—all within the first four and half minutes. Don’t even get me started on the other nine.
“White Walls” clocks in at just over the 14-minute mark. I can’t really form justifiably coherent thoughts on this one, so I’ll just throw out a few concepts that fit the song: execution, the walls are closing in, straight jacket, Sonic the Hedgehog, ritual killing, Burt Bacharach. And the drums. My god, the drums…
As in literature, anyone with a basic understanding of material can copy a style and present it in a proficient manner. It takes real talent, and near transcendence, to allow influences to melt seamlessly into one another and come up with something that truly stands alone, unique. Between the Buried and Me are undoubtedly today’s King Crimson, creating some of the 21st century’s most forward-thinking music. Keep up if you can.