Review Summary: Between The Buried And Me step up to the next level of prog-metal heavyweights with Colors, destroying any and all challengers with this nearly peerless masterpiece.
Between The Buried And Me (henceforth designated BTBAM) have made quite the mark in the world of metal. In a genre known more for its rehashed been-there-done-that formulas, hilarious D&D machismo B.S., and tendencies to jerk off copiously on their guitars, BTBAM is a daisy in a field of gnarly weeds, proving that unmatched virtuosity and melodic, innovative songwriting can coexist with crushing heaviness in a genre long devoid of originality.
(and BTBAM in general) is an amalgam of virtually every breed of metal in existence - power metal, death metal, thrash, black metal, you name it - along with a healthy dose of progressive rock a'la Pink Floyd and King Crimson, some dramatic pop sensibilities (think Queen) and a penchant for experimentation and weirdness not unlike Mr. Bungle (or any typical Mike Patton record). Their schizophrenic nature of throwing everything (including the kitchen sink) imaginable into their music blender allows them to go from a crazy 200-bpm blast beat to a smooth jazz/polka part to a country hoe-down
(!) into a poppy power metal verse, which is utterly ridiculous in the fact that it actually works - seamlessly, in fact - without sounding like they're smoking mad amounts of rocks or shamelessly masturbating to their incredible talent.
Basically a huge 64-minute song separated by tracks, Colors
transitions its songs together without any real breaks, bombarding you with BTBAM's relentless aesthetic. This record never lets up for a second, the brief respite of "Viridian" being the only track that remains deceptively quiet the whole time. Otherwise, everything is all the way on 11. This album features some of the most insane "holy *** how did they do that?" instrumental moments committed to disc as of yet. Its kind of the understatement of the millennium to say these dudes shred their respective instruments better than 99% of their peers do. The kicker is that they do it tastefully and in an uplifting, catchy way that belies their incredible range of influences. I mean this band put out a cover album where bands like Blind Melon, Depeche Mode, and Counting Crows sat right next to Sepultura, Earth Crisis, and Pantera, giving you an inkling of their impressive devotion to all styles of music. It's this hodge-podge of tastes that give the listener the impression that these guys are having some serious fun playing this stuff. It's very refreshing for a genre like metal, where most of the bands take themselves and the ridiculous nature of their music far too seriously.
But despite their bizarre palette of influences, BTBAM is musically not a band to be screwed with. Tempos spin, switch, stop, and reverse on a dime (see the outro of "The Decade Of Statues") without a break, the guitars slit your throat and squeeze the blood from your body with no mercy, and the bass is astounding in that you can actually HEAR it on a metal album, let alone that it takes spotlight more than a few times without a problem. This time around, the vocals often take a welcome break from the tired death metal grunts into lilting, melodic falsettos and multi-part Floydian harmonies. Did I mention the drumming (insert breathless hyperbole of your choice
)? If there's a contender for a modern-day King Crimson or Pink Floyd on PCP, BTBAM takes the cake and eats the baker too. There are some absolutely chilling, crushingly epic moments all over this record that will drop your jaw to the floor in awe at how incredibly easy these guys mix mind-blowing technical workouts with undeniably massive hooks. Just listen to the vintage Floyd chorus of "Sun Of Nothing", the hyperactive meltdown of the intro to "Ants In The Sky", the crushing final denouement of "White Walls", the soul-rending melodic scream in the crescendo of "Prequel To The Sequel", or the ultra-cool Phyrgian riffage in "Informal Gluttony" and try not to completely bow down like the lowly slave you are. It's actually pretty difficult to pick out all of the heart-stopping moments on the disc because Colors
is literally throwing them at you every couple of minutes. You simply never know what's coming next.
Despite what would appear to be my ass-kissing of the highest "using Preparation H for chapstick" order, Colors
isn't completely flawless; the throat-shredding vocals are definitely an acquired taste for some, it can be a beast to get through it in one sitting, and it relies quite a bit on the listener's ability to appreciate wankery (albeit tasteful wankery). Some parts and sections are more than a little reminiscent of their previous works, 2003's The Silent Circus
and 2005's Alaska
. You're going to get an aural bludgeoning of genres you'd never see in the same zip code, let alone in a single song. You also won't "get" it all in one sitting. And if you haven't figured it out yet, it's an Album
that needs some real TLC to appreciate fully. But like any "grower", the reward is undeniably great. It's simultaneously BTBAM's hardest and easiest album to listen to, the former due to it's beastly run-time and lack of traditional song-structure, and the latter, its added melody, amazing cohesiveness, and consistency. There simply aren't any heavy bands out there that mix so many completely opposite styles together with such a mastery of arrangements, skills, melody, and catchy songwriting.
Put bluntly, Colors
is completely un***withable, and I have no problem believing it will eventually be considered a modern classic of the highest order down the road. If you listen to one metal album this year, do yourself a favor and grab this the second you can, or you're missing out.
This album releases on September 18, 2007. It can be streamed from BTBAM's Myspace page here: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=513 7567