Written Before Listen
Between The Buried and Me is a North Carolina metal band that grew massive prominence in the 2000s. On New Year’s Eve, I decided to listen to a ton that I’ve wanted to get into but never did. Due to Mastodon and Electric Wizard being in my heavy rotation around that time, I wanted to listen to some metal with very fuzzy guitars and screaming vocals. That day I introduced myself to Meshuggah, Portal, Necrophobic, and of course…Between The Buried and Me. Out of those bands, the only one I go back to often is Meshuggah. The album I listened to from that album was “Colors” and since the sequel to this album just came out, I decided to listen to both projects. To be honest, I don’t remember that much about Colors since the last time I heard it, but I’m trying to let that change today, so without further ado, let’s get into it.
What Between The Buried and Me do on this album is not in the usual Prog Metal fashion. It’s not like it hasn't been done because it has. Hell, some albums came out this year like “Promises” that connect the songs, but this is different. It’s less like a singular song and more like a medley of ideas that resolve into one sound. Another unique thing about this album is that it seems to be a continuous loop. The opening piano on “Foam Born (a) The Backtrack” can be a continuation of the outro piano passage on “White Walls”. Honestly, even after listening to this album once, I didn't even realize the continuous structure until I gave it a critical listen.
With this album acting somewhat like a 64-minute song, there are two ways this could go. It rather drones with one extremely great idea like “Dopesmoker” or “What’s Going On”, or it goes through multiple twists and turns like “Thick As A Brick” or “Cosmogramma”. This so happens to be the latter. Right off of the bat, we get something reminiscent of a Queen-like piano ballad until it goes into the sound that is tagged onto Between The Buried and Me. The beginning and end of “Informal Gluttony” takes a lot of tribal influence with bongos, forest sounds, and an overall dark atmosphere. There is a part in the middle of “Son Of Nothing” that sounds straight out of a Mr. Bungle track but with some jazzy undertones. On the outro of “Ants In The Sky”, we take one of the funniest left turns where this extreme metal track unapologetically turns into a bluegrass track. Another funny transition is on “Prequel To The Sequel” where once again, an extreme metal track takes an extreme left turn but this time, we have a polka track in ⅝ time. Yes! It’s ⅝ Polka! Surely those are unique left turns but there are also predictable influences. With a prog metal and metalcore background, there are bound to be some Progressive Rock influence as well as some Death Metal, but even then, their incorporations of those genres are pretty cool to hear.
Do you know what's even more impressive than writing a continuous song with multiple twists and turns? Recording and playing it. Being a band of 5, these guys know what mood they are trying to set right away. The guitarists know what tone to use, the drummers know their percussion choices and dynamics, the singer knows when to use what voice, and the bassist is just killing it. I’m not even saying that to be funny, there are a good amount of bass lines, especially on “Viridian” where the bassist (Dan Briggs) goes off melodically and aesthetically. This is not only a good group of ideas but a good group of musicians too.
Now, let’s talk about the aspect I always like to talk about, the production. Honestly, I think a lot of the production choices were good, That’s it. There is nothing that wowed me production-wise. What I will say though is that there is nothing to complain about either. Usually, with an album like this, the production ruins it or helps it, but this time it doesn’t do much to harm or help.
Other than what I said about the production, there is one gripe I have with this album. It suffers from showing skill over substance. For the majority of the time, I don’t mind that, but at the same time it harms an album’s enjoyability, but Between The Buried and Me still solidify themselves on this album.
I wouldn’t say this shocked me in any way, but I did enjoy this album quite a lot. I’m glad I registered for this because I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. If you want to listen to this album and give your opinion, I highly suggest you give it more than one listen.