Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax II: The Future Sequence

The guys in BTBAM are absolutely adamant about one ultimate goal with this very singular monkey of a release; doing whatever the heck they damned well please with absolutely each and every opportunity opening they get throughout the 70+ minute-span. They also happen to seriously succeed in the art of having the music truly express the emotions they want to invoke with the main storyline of this concept album; and no matter how much I usually despise the pedestrian evolutions of a story-based record, in the case of this band, you get so continuously exposed to variations in pattern shift and literally schizoid mood swings, you have a pretty hard time not finding this music as organic as it gets, no matter how layered and overblown it might seem to be in some moments. There’s enough character and libertine creativity going on to get the impression that the goal here isn’t to be overflashy; it’s to let the apeshit wolves loose and let the general mastermind created by this bunch of dudes breathe all the damn air it has to take in to live well as the entity that it is. One particularly interesting attribute here is that this batch of tunes showcases a real skill at cooking up groovy thrashcore, even atop of fusionny technical wanderings. I rarely hear a band mesh those two particular styles without severely breaking their bones in the typically awkward-as-fuck process. It’s like in the case of this unit, all the risks are being taken for a good reason. It might be dangerous in a way though; when there’s nary a challenging element in one tune, it turns into a flat valley since it seems the main trait making BTBAM what they are about is to go against the grain; you don’t take any kind of ”normal” venture from these cats as a serious ordeal. Thus, I had trouble dealing with the last few slabs of more typical hardcore around the end of the album; nevertheless, I’ve been literally gunned down with heaps of originality throughout the journey anyhow, and regardless of bits of the brutal angle of this record being repetitive and a little too on-cue, I’m far from feeling empty-handed. In fact, I have my hands surprisingly fucking full.

The relatively short ”Goodbye to Everything” says a lot about the oddball fantasy-game nature of the ambiance of this release, but as cheesy as I thought it was at first, I realized quickly enough that it’s far from being horribly overwhelming all the way through; it simply happens to make bits of the album pleasantly and comically fucked up. There’s something dramatic about this intro. ”Astral Body” kicks off with the exact type of complex riffery I was longing for when throwing this album on. It’s already obvious there will be a ton of crack-smoking time signatures thrown all across the board, which I also happen to find exquisite. Between 1.10 and 1.32, it seems the tendency of the riffage goes more and more into a Ron Jarzombek direction, which doesn’t take anything away from it’s generally promising stroll. The first verse is psychotically fucking weird, blending in death metal and jazz elements at equal measures, with a slightly cartoonish and spacey feel to the overall envelope, also bringing the Devin Townsend influence into the picture without having to use subtlety. Attempting to follow the direction of the solos herein is quite the fascinatingly sophisticated experience. The most brutal and chaotic part of the tune, around 3.19, is definitely very syncopated and skin-peeling. The build-up at 3.42 accompanied by frantic blast beats is pretty killer, showing that violence is definitely an aspect of these guys’ refinery that works fucking wonders, at least when utilized in a well-calculated way, instead of spread all across the piece to the point of sounding redundant, which is the main flaw this record hops on when it stretches out to a debilitating length and seems to forget to grab on to its best assets; but that doesn’t happen for at least a good while. The excellency is solidly maintained, for the most part. ”Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” goes to prove the vast majority of this record sure ain’t chock-full of boring ass dwellings on the typical by-the-book formula; the technicality is concise, just as much as the rage is sonically impulsive. A jazzy and fusion part follows this sort of intro with bass work that takes a lot of space all of a sudden, for a very good and fuller affect. It ends up really driving the sound. The blast beats are also aplenty. This has plenty of fucking character and a solid backbone, I really can’t complain. It might even be more crowd-drawing than the first tune altogether. 1.34 throws in this clean singing part atop of a circus-y melody that’s bound to make everyone realize this is a bunch of guys having a blast doing what they do instead of pretending they’re the sole genuine Berkeley under the sun. That kind of melodic valley that might seem like a big gaping hole in the structure to some people shows it’s genuinely a conceptual journey and not a compact delivery and whilst it’s the very thing I usually hate to listen to the most, since day one; with this album, there’s enough skill to the choice of variation cues to make damned sure you don’t switch to another record out of sheer exhaustion. There’s most often an element keeping you sitting around with it.

The melody, in this case, chooses to evolve into this mightily technical prowess underneath a very neoclassical solo, which is pretty fanciable. 3.25 dives into blast beats and a dark symphonic feel that truly fits eerily well here. Again, there seems to be a lot of Devin influence fighting its way into this turf, mainly because of the very visible expertise in the field of blending technicality, violence and downright weirdness. The fucked up time signatures in the riffage atop of a kickass and steady drumroll that gets punchier and punchier even as it goes through a series of techniques… it’s a thing of cinematic beauty. You gotta admit; it’s hard not to love the absurdly cool goofiness of a brutal as fuck assault intertwined with circussy and easy-listening elevator music samplings. It’s damned near irresistible cos it’s as far from serious as it is serious. It’s all very precise and well thought out wankery. Actually, the riffage especially is so fucked up it’s addictive. 6.33 gets quite comically loungy. It’s a contemplative and relaxed valley of the tune I would’ve normally despised but it goes back into symphonic epicness quickly enough and actually even goes towards the outskirts of Symphony X terrain; proggy, without the element of brutality. It’s catchy as all hell, regardless of being psychotically fusionny as it gets. ”Autumn” is a fitting, albeit frankly useless electronic interlude. It’s psychedelic, without doing anything more for me. ”Extremophile Elite” doesn’t lose any kind of headway in terms of showcasing the most important ingredients of the sauce in aggressive daylight. There’s no problem with those samey elements taking over again, at least up to this point. Catchy progressiveness is the main factor here from the get go. It picks up straight from the riffage pattern of the previous tune, showing that this is definitely a continuous and concise journey. 51 seconds in, it’s clear to me that this is gonna be a very breakdown-friendly tune amongst lots of other hardcore elements. It even goes onto what seems like a groove-oriented thrash rampage at some point. But the strongest element of this song so far is definitely the deadly as fuck hardcore slamming intertwined with the main prog roll. At 3.21, I can’t help but to think of Lamb of God in terms of the guitar sound, which, in my book, is far from being an insult. It’s Lamb of God on a seriously interesting drug trip. It’s all quick to get weirder again with a very goofy and grainy straight-out-of-a-cartoon snippet at 4.45, showing that these dudes are on no sort of shortage of laid-back and comfortable madness. The neoclassical and symphonic passages of this tune constantly taking over are very airy, refreshing, and teethy. Around 6.25 though, there seems to be far too much focus on a progressive part that stretches out into oblivion, which is quickly corrected by a very introspective and emotional passage of the tune with lyrics that center on solitude. The vocal delivery really gets that feeling out to you in record time. Still, there’s a tad too many fusion-y bits dragged all across the room here; they’ve already proven their point throughout the song without needing to bleed it dry. It feels like a bit of a leech in this sound by now. Less is definitely more up to this point. Still, the way the end round-about of this song shows that these guys can blend the force and simplicity of hardcore with other far fetched styles is very skillful and impressive enough to manage to make me forget some oddities that induce a touch of boredom when utilized with excess.

”Parallax” drags in Pink Floyd/Division Bell-types of leads, to my utmost pleasure, and ”The Black Box” goes onto an interestingly dark and elegant piano melody that has, again, a very tale telling and cinematic feel, which is the direct point of doing interludes. If that grit ain’t part of the tableau, an interlude becomes an instantaneous filler to these ears. The vocalist sounds more and more like the former Queen front man, and the guitar and bass work both sound equally grand. Speaking of which, ”Telos” has the catchiest possible bass line in its intro. The instrumentation as a whole creates a chaotic fucking downpour of lunar madness at its best. The main riff is rather effective, and it’s like the technicality is infusing an additional dose of catchiness into the groovy stuff rather than extirpating its accessibility factor. The leads are awesome and truly elaborate. The world-music-trippin’ mid-track march sounds a tad out of place and goofy as hell thanks to those reefer leads in the background, but 3.18 is the cue to arguably the best part of the track and one of the key points of this record; it manages to make a smooth loungy passage sound psychedelic enough to match the coolness of vintage psyrock. The faint electronic element is a good backbone for the main structure of the melody of this bit; and I usually hate anything electronic in rock or metal. From the moment the guitars and the drums kick in, it’s impossible not to get this major Queen-on-crack impression; it’s the best compare I’ve ever heard, which I unfortunately didn’t pen myself. As the vocalist goes ”Goodbye to All I’ve Known” over that pattern, I’m getting a whole bunch of shivers. I also love the way it escalates into this noisy and chaotic climax. It’s very doomsday-like, and illustrates the whole point of this album’s storyline. This, against all odds, turns into hardcore-driven psychopathy. This type of HC actually goes towards death metal here. Technical lickery in the back keeps this train on the same railing as usual, but it still seems more frantic and aggressive than on the previous cuts.

”Bloom” is, without question, the oddest piece of work this side of Mars. It has this fascinating piano melody in the intro blending in with an electronic element I find, again, fitting. There’s a lot of goofiness taking over really quickly and the circussy thematic seems to take this song literally by storm. Still, the vocal performance is the best I’ve heard coming outta this band since day one. It goes through various keys with impressive, natural skill. The lead work is also on a roll here, going in all directions. I gotta point blank admit that the worst crime here though, is the reproduction of a Beach Boys classic at 1.21; where in the fuck this comes from, I really don’t know. I guess BTBAM is the sole band that could get away with it, but it still feels like a joke to me. There’s still a bunch of hints of brutality in here, against all odds and probabilities; you just never know what the heck you’re gonna get. Still, as much as it’s the most bizarre thing ever to come out of this band, it’s also the most technical song of all. Patterns like the one at 2.59, especially, allow no mistake. This is no redundant fella. ”Melting City” is basically LoG meets Blotted Science. It’s extremely odd, but also just as catchy. It’s accessible, WHILE staying completely whacked out on technicality. Still, it seems to tone that factor down a touch in comparison with the previous track. The swirly leads are awesome, but this clean chorus underneath rainbowy melodies is kind of a wonder. Slamming hardcore still comes back to the forefront at 2.07 and defines itself as the most present element in this song; and from that song and on, it starts taking a little too much space in more of a linear fashion; the dreaded flaw I couldn’t stop mentioning since the beginning of this review. The sweetness of the choruses here, in comparison with the gnarliness of the verses, seems to show two very different and distinct bands in the same rehearsal space. 3.08 is straight out of the blue; acoustic string work and a flute come into the picture, which is the kind of experiment the whole band seems particularly excited to work with this time around. It unfortunately does nothing for me. The basswork is the main point of interest here, reminding me of the work of ex Obscura bassist. The Division Bell‘y leadwork slips back into the picture for a very déja-vu but still cool affect and the vocals are gripping and calming. They tell tall tales of sadness and confusion, dragging in a major buildup of brutality afterward; that, in and of itself, is the second keypoint of this record. 7.16 goes back to the main pattern of the tune although it seems to dwell far too long on the same mood; it’s like another one of those concept album ditches that just doesn’t know when to end. The background lick even sounds a little too familiar in terms of a lounge and fusion-y mindset. Fortunately, the symphonic feel of previous tracks interrupts this long ass bore with a flamboyance that’s far from exhausting.

”Silent Flight Parliament”, the last actual song to speak of, starts off on a promising roll but then makes it obvious this kind of long and rich journey is a lot of stuff to digest and that by now, there’s gonna be one element of the whole tableau sounding a little tired and off-the-rails. I’m digging the progressive riff ’round the beginning that says a lot about emotional reluctance, and the piano and thunderous drum work also add a cool touch. The very down tuned feel of the first verse is nicely singular. The vocal line and background riff seems to go back to the main melody of ”Telos” though, which makes a few more appearances throughout. The hardcore fit that follows this was entirely foreseeable though, thus feels kinda boring. The clean part directly following it is also something the previous tunes did with absolute ease, and now, it’s getting simply too easy. The trickery’s obvious by now; the songs kind of melt into each other during this half of the record. Track-defining overtones are still present, but not in an amount large enough. Regardless of this problem, there’s still obviously something to sink your teeth into; this is BTBAM after all. The vocals are powerful going through various ranges. This ain’t the most riffy of songs, though. The leads take over from time to time, but the RIFFS are mostly absent. S’like the rhythm guitars are simply a background, faint rumble. By 4.40, this accessible, run-of-the-mill hardcore is boring to death, and it’s like even the progressive elements are always going full circle in heavily recurring patterns. It’s even like only the melodic parts of the tune characterize it as different from the rest of this batch. 6.01 introduces a drum pattern that once again reminds me of Telos, and I guess 6.40 gets more original with the melodic aspect going atop the groovy thrashcore roll. Oddball sampling is soon to kick in, followed by a nod to world-music that sounds a lot more hypnotic than I would’ve thought this stylistic bend could do, and then, suddenly, a very effective melody takes over, and a rocking, high-profile solo barges in, taking effective riffage with it. I’m not sure I get the inclusion of a dark alternative dwelling. It made me zone out almost immediately, right up until epileptic brutality and contemplative technicality took over again followed by a luxurious and posh violin-driven part, taking the neoclassicality back to the forefront. The outro is quick to turn into elevator music although it started off with awesome leadwork.

What I could remember from BTBAM, before I penned this review (and, admittedly, I wasn’t extremely familiar with the band or their back catalog before jumping into this), was that they weren’t this incredibly violent band. I also (at least) knew, and rightfully so, that they’re not trying to be the most technical-on-purpose dill weeds on the face of mother earth; they care more about mood, and it happens to come off as technical in their case, rather than being purposefully brought forward; it seems authentic, and basking into their pool of natural influences, along with the multiple fusion elements present on this album. This came from the heart, and it’s definitely heart-warming. It still doesn’t seem to be the kind of record I’ll throw on repeatedly as much as the one I’ll enjoy with a lot more fondness in small doses. You don’t eat top class gourmet cuisine at every meal; it would get boring and atrociously ordinary. The same can be said about virtually anything I know from BTBAM.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
October 16th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    I think im burned out on these guys. I just haven’t dove into this or the proceeding EP for some reason. its ambitious thats for sure. But colors and the great misdirect kinda wore me out musically. Alaska is still their peak


  2. Commented by: Shockwave

    As good as Alaska is, this one is so much better on almost every front. Give it some spins, there is little chance you’ll be disappointed. It just fits, almost every earth forsaken part of it. Like you would think your penis fits Katy Perry perfectly.
    Good call on the Queen reference by the way, they also did half of Bohemian Rhapsody when I saw them a week ago. Which reminds me, if you ever get the chance to see these guys live, don’t ever deprive yourself of the experience.


  3. Commented by: chocolatebattleaxe

    I feel like this band has never been able to write memorable songs, there are occasional some cool parts but the metal bits are really generic or stupid sounding. Usually when you have stellar musicianship you can come up with good riffs… just sayin. also Paul wagoner is a fucking douche and the clean vocals have always been terrible. fuck this band.


  4. Commented by: Gianna

    Nope. This is BTBAM’s peak. Hands down. No question. Give it a few more listens. Or 20. It will slowly start to reveal itself and all its intricacies to you. Its quite the trip :)


  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    “Like you would think your penis fits Katy Perry perfectly.”

    lol


  6. Commented by: jk666

    I finally listened to the whole thing on headphones this morning. A LOT going on here, maybe too much. I think all this album needs to be perfect is some breathing room.


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. Your post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and maybe held up for further approval. We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Fluisteraars - Bloem
  • Cianide - Unhumanized EP
  • Abhomine - Proselyte Parasite Plague
  • Porta Nigra - Schöpfungswut
  • Abigail WIlliams - Walk Beyond the Dark
  • Suicide Silence - Become the Hunter
  • Annihilator - Ballistic, Sadistic
  • Hell:On/Pripjat - A Glimpse Beyond (Split)
  • Silvertomb - Edge of Existence
  • Necropanther - The Doomed City
  • Lorna Shore - Immortal
  • Ian Blurton Future Now - Signals Through the Flames
  • Voice of Ruin - Acheron
  • Inverted Matter - Detach
  • Marrasmieli - Between Land and Sky