Between the Buried and Me
Alaska

Though most of you may groan, for me, 2005 has been a stellar year for the so called “death-core” genre (I use the term broadly to describe music that mixes death metal, grindcore and hardcore/metalcore); Embrace the End, The Taste of Blood, The Number 12 Looks Like You, Ion Dissonance, The Red Chord, Antagony, Animosity, Winds of Plague, Despised Icon, Becoming the Archetype-all bands that will be in or flirt with my end of year list.

And at the very pinnacle of the genre comes Between the Buried and Me’s anticipated (technically) third album, Alaska, and like the state is shares its name with, this album is a breathtaking display of the harsh, the primal, the beautiful and the serene. The key to BtBaM’s sound is guitarist Paul Wagonner who carries over his influential work from Prayer For Cleansing. Whereas The Silent Circus mostly suffocated his melodies (with the exception of tracks like “Mordacai” and “Ad a Dglgmut”) with an overabundance of gnarly chaoscore, but on Alaska Waggoner has been given room to breath and flesh out far more solos and sumptuous harmonies.  The end result is an almost Prog rock/power metal sheen to BtBaM’s discordant, caustic antics, and it’s sooooooo fucking good. “All Bodies” starts this brilliant album off with a real bang; epically long, rangy convulsive blasts, power metal choruses, a first look at Wagonner’s extended progressive solo work that knee wiltingly melodic and even a chanted “Hey, Hey, Hey!” segment. Trust me, this track is mind blowing. The following title track initially wafts Prog synth work around Wagonner’s supine guitar work, but the track quickly careens into the band’s trademark rumbling dissonance and artful abrasion that continues for “Croakies and Boat Shoes”. While I enjoy BtBaM’s spurts of jagged chaos, I prefer the albums more lucid, adventurous tracks of elegant bedlam that imbue so much more than burly breakdowns and furious blast beats Don’t get me wrong, complex, burly, staggering tracks like “Roboturner” and “Backwards Marathon” provide teeth gnashing moments of tech heaviness, but other tracks are more full-filling and provide a more varied and resonant form of brutal escapism; The delicate piano and clean vocal interlude of “Selkies”, the mix of superb melodic gallop and vicious black metalish riffs of the albums other standout track, “The Primer”, the monstrous “Audiodact”, as well as the instrumental celestial interludes of “Breath in, Breath Out”, “Medicine Wheel” and “Laser Speed” that break up the noise perfectly are just more appealing to me, especially when done so perfectly. Fellow former Prayer For Cleansing member Tommy Rogers (also a big part of the songwriting) delivers stout growls and screams but has elevated his under utilized clean voice, even if he does pen expectedly quizzical song titles and lyrics. The rest of the lineup consisting of drummer Blake Richardson, guitarist Dusty Waring (both of similar sounding act Glass Casket), and sturdy bassist Dan Briggs deliver Rogers’ and Wagonner’s vision aptly while Jamie King’s (Swift, Prayer For Cleansing) production captures the bands nuances perfectly. Alaska is a brilliant shot of creativity in the arm of a maligned scene. It also gives Victory Records a healthy dose of much needed brilliance amid their commercial, emo drenched roster. Look for this to be my album of the year for 2005 barring a major surprise.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 6th, 2005

Comments

  1. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    After reading Erik Thomas’ fine reviews of BTBAM’s albums, I find myself wondering if this guy isn’t a brother of mine seperated at birth. Great observations on a great, heavily underrated band. Keep up the good work.


  2. Commented by: Reviews › Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect › Teeth of the Divine

    […] You know its been a great year for metal when the fifth album from Between the Buried and Me arrives with relatively little fanfare, takes two weeks for me to review and wont be an immediate shoo in for my album of the year like 2007s Colors and 2005s Alaska. […]


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