Between the Buried and Me
The Silent Circus

Volumes have been written on North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me and their meteoric rise to math-/post-core demigods. For those latecomers who started paying attention after 2005’s benchmark Alaska, Victory has re-released the band’s sophomore album, 2003’s The Silent Circus, with expanded liner notes by the group and a bonus DVD of concert footage, a lively interview, and music videos. More important, however, is remembering that BTBAM’s Alaska line-up was almost completely different from The Silent Circus, which starred vocalist Tommy Rogers and guitarist Paul Waggoner (both ex-Prayer for Cleansing) as founding members, alongside now former guitarist Nick Fletcher, ex-Azazel bassist Jason King, and Bury Your Dead drummer Mark Castillo.

The two-part suite “Lost Perfection” is a whirlwind of dense death/grind with maximum carnage inflicted like the Dillinger Escape Plan, and “Camilla Rhodes” wavers between full-on death metal and the aggro-hybrid presented by Burnt by the Sun. “Mordecai” is the first cut to have a quieter interlude after two minutes: Rogers switches to his clean vocals and keyboards, and Waggoner puts on his best Steve Howe of Yes gameface for some serious prog interplay with the band. “Reaction” is a brief excursion into ambient territory, shaped by Rogers’ ebbing keys and soft voice. This segues almost directly into “(Shevanel Take 2),” an acoustic cut that shows their versatility with pop-folk compositions—and one of the central elements that allows them to stand apart from their peers. An ode to noise, “Ad a dlgmut” (from a random message sent by Fletcher to Rogers’ cellphone) is just that up to the 3:05 mark, then it diverts into another serene, melodic intermission that showcases Rogers’ golden pipes, and finally its fragile beauty implodes at 5:50 with brimstone raining down. “Destructo Spin” continues the assault and one-ups it by morphing into a black-metal tune from 3:37 to the fade-out. “Aesthetic” and “The Need for Repetition” are two of BTBAM’s best examples of their metal diversity, as it passes through hardcore, math-rock, death, thrash, tech/prog—even industrial at the latter’s coda—with distinct shifts every minute or so. An unnamed outtake at the end of the disc approaches Pantera at Phil Anselmo’s drunkest.

The DVD contains mostly live footage culled from a local show a few months before the release of Alaska and blows all queries of “can they pull this off live?” out the door. The whole crowd joins in on handclaps halfway through the “Coulrophobia” section of “Lost Perfection,” and its Killwhitneydead-like groove interlude stokes the pit even more. “Anablephobia” presents the multi-camera affair that highlights Castillo’s wicked drum technique. “Roboturner” and “Alaska” (both from Alaska) are frenetic death metal, and “All Bodies” seems to catch Rogers wavering a bit in his Geddy Lee imitation. The bonus interview from Metal Injection is pitiful: the band come off as a bunch of ADD-addled smart alecks, goaded by the idiotic interviewer who’s just as unprofessional. The “Mordecai” video is conceptual with animated Barbie dolls, washed-out cityscapes, and cartoonish skylines. Tacked on at the end is the oddball “Slumber Party” video by Giles, Rogers’ techno/experimental project that comes off vocally as Nine Inch Nails with daft electronica leanings.

As much as The Silent Circus is jaw-dropping, the fact that BTBAM completely overhauled the line-up then improved upon their manic sound on Alaska is utterly extraordinary. Displaying a talent progression on the level with Opeth, Between the Buried and Me remain one of the genre’s brightest hopes, and all eyes—and ears—await their new studio effort later this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
June 20th, 2007

Comments

  1. Commented by: fightingmike

    I love parts of this record. I love the rawness of the production and the brutalness of certain tracks. I dont like “Shevanel Take 2”, but i love the brutal opening riffs of “Ad A Dlgmut” that follow. I have had a hard time really digesting “Colors”, but i love this record and “Alaska”.


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