Between The Buried And Me // The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Very good in the future, too!
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: betweentheburiedandme.com | facebook.com/BTBAMofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2012.10.05 | US: 10.09.2012
The world’s most prolific prog/death metal/melodic/jazz/metalcore/shred/ambient/organ jazz/polka/gregorian chant band is back! A mere 18 months after their last EP, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, Between the Buried and Me return with a (very) full-length sequel, The Parallax II: Future Sequence. For the already initiated, BTBAM‘s sound is more or less unchanged since the stride that began with 2007’s Colors, so any headway made on Parallax II is a refinement, not a change of direction. If you came to hear long and insanely technical songs, lots of guitar heroics, and vocals by a guy who sounds like a cyborg angel from the future, let me assure you that you are still in the right place.
Like most bands that have forsaken conventional song structure, the highlights here are less about “songs” and more about “parts.” That said, there’s a shitload of really cool bits going on here. The organ-driven Mr. Bungle madness in “Lay Your Ghosts To Rest” comes to mind, as does the almost-grindcore opening to “Telos.” And the halfway point of “Extremophile Elite” turns into a style that I could only describe as Tim Burton-core [Genrefication has gone too far! – AMG]. Oh, and the twisted surf-rock bit in “Bloom” is pretty bizarre as well. I couldn’t name a single track as a standout, but there’s all kinds of cool stuff going on throughout the album’s duration.
As you might imagine, BTBAM‘s musicianship is off the charts as always. What I find interesting is Tommy Rogers’ continuing evolution from semi-generic metalcore guy to fully-formed musician. He seems to be making a genuine effort to sing like a human being on Parallax II, and his keyboard work plays a more prominent role than ever. His recent solo album [Which this Angry Metal Guy loved – AMG] is just another example of how far he has come. Honorable mention also goes to bassist Dan Briggs, who plays with a surprising amount of independence and melody for music this complicated.
Parallax II is 72 minutes long, which is a lot to take in considering the complexity of the music involved. It’s kind of like going to a Brazilian steakhouse — yes, the steak is awesome, but after the 7th or 8th time the waiter comes by to slice you off another piece, it’s hard to consume any more, or to appreciate it properly. That said, BTBAM has never been known to shy away from overkill, and if nothing else, there’ll be some payoff for repeated listening.
Also worth noting: apparently this album’s concept involves the story of “two men (that) exist in ignorance of the other yet are intrinsically connected by a shared soul,” according to the band bio. I’m not on enough drugs to understand what this means, or how it relates to the previous BTBAM album (which was part 1), but that didn’t hinder or enhance my enjoyment of this record at all.
Anyways, if you’ve read this far, you probably have a good idea of what you’re in for: a technical, modern, progressive and sometimes just-plain-weird, slice of post-metalcore progressive metal. [Or something like that… – AMG] BTBAM has been on a roll for the last few years, building a back catalogue of unfuckwithable progressive music. In an era of artificial, one-dimensional music passed off as “prog” or “technical,” these guys are pretty much the real deal. And if anyone needs further proof, Parallax II should convince you.
Addendum: While I wasn’t able to write this review, I had initially planned on doing so and I thought I’d throw in my thoughts. One of my biggest criticisms of BTBAM is that they have consistently sounded like everyone but themselves. By stringing together a bunch of music from other bands’ styles, they managed to make something cool, but not necessarily something I wanted to return to over and over again. While I was not a fan of The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues I, too, really enjoyed this record; partially because the band seems to have come into its own soundwise. I think that Fisting that Andrew Guy does a good job of diagnosing this when he says that Tommy Rogers has really progressed with time and found his own unique style – this has taken the whole band’s game up a notch. The length is just too much for me and the biggest drawback as a fan of “the album” as a concept. But it’s hard to imagine that fans of the band are going to complain about 72 minutes of music. – AMG