It’s always fun to look into a band’s influences. Whether it’s checking out bands that the members themselves cite, or going through the “influences” list on their Myspace page, sometimes only to discover the band sounds nothing like them, it’s always an interesting thing to find out no matter the means. The latter scenario has unfortunately been the usual case with me, but at least some amount of amusement can be derived from how often this happens. I suppose that’s better than ripping someone off and citing them as an influence (I’m looking at your Botch reference, Norma Jean), but admittedly, it’s nice when you come across an honest band that gives you exactly what they say they’re going to. Eclectic metal band Between the Buried and Me are notorious for having a wide array of influences, and they’ve offered some proof of it in the form of The Anatomy Of, a cover album whose originals span several genres, all claimed to be from influences by the band themselves. They could take a number of different approaches to this project; would they play the songs but keep their rendition somewhere near the grounds of metal, or would they opt to take the safer route and stick close to the original sound? The answer is a mixed bag to both this question and the quality of the final product. Oh, and whether or not you like their versions really depends on if you like Tommy Roger’s harsh vocals.
The band doesn’t stray too far from their comfort zone with the opening cover of Metallica’s “Blackened”. Here, the original sound isn’t changed beyond the production being tweaked to reflect BTBAM’s normal mixing and sound. That is, until Tommy’s signature harsh vocals come in. This alone will be a determining factor in whether or not you like this song and a few others’ covers if you enjoyed the original; when Tommy does sing, he doesn’t do it any differently than he does with his own band, and this rings especially true for the harsh vocals. They also throw in a few kicks with the song’s guitar solo near the end, additionally slightly extending it. Tommy does break away from his harsh vocals frequently throughout the album though. The next song, Motley Crue’s hard-rocking “Kickstart My Heart” is an example of giving you a substantial chance of liking it if you enjoyed the original; even the vocals sound pretty similar. We even get to explore some of the possible roots of the band’s quirky side with their cover of Queen’s “Bicycle Race”. Tommy has stated in the past that Queen is one of his favorite bands (also noted in the liner notes) and Freddie Mercury is one of his biggest influences. There is no better example of this than this cover; his vocal range extends well into the falsetto range, and he hints at it here and in several other places on the album. The next track begins the best stretch of the record; King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair” is beautifully replicated, from the surreal vocals to the interweaving soft guitar and soothing bass lines, Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” sounds almost identical to the original yet very natural for the band, providing a solid argument for them being genuinely progressive in their ideas, and finally, the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.” sounds great with just enough of a clearer, modern twist being put on the traditional fuzzy sound of the original.
The band’s distinct sound sneaks in during many moments of The Anatomy Of. It doesn’t always do this at the right time, making the sound come off as forced more than anything else, and that almost always is a surefire way to ruin a cover. Of course I’m not putting the band at fault for sounding like themselves, but the fact that the music’s original intentions in some of the songs gets lost in translation can’t be ignored. Tommy’s trademark harsh vocals don’t always mesh with the song, which is particularly frustrating because he has the ability to use different techniques and voices, many of which would be a closer fit to the song the rest of his band is covering than his trusty but monotonous yells. It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out if you’d like any given part of this album; just imagine Between the Buried and Me giving their own spin on the originals. The end result couldn’t be much different than what it is: the band expand on the versatility shown in their own albums, with mixed results. Some parts remain awkward or even grating, but for the most part, Tommy Rogers and company successfully put on a talent show, regardless of how the final product sounds.
The cover of "Malpractice" on this is amazing. And yeah, the guys from Earth Crisis are all militant-leaning edge vegans. Good review. I have mixed feelings about this album. While I like quite a bit of it, they totally ruin a great Counting Crows song.
I never minded this album, but I will say the blasbeats for the chorus in Blackened was a tad unnecessary. Also the choice for songs was pretty cool to me as BTBAM pretty much did covers of all of my favorite bands (FNM, Pantera, old Metallica, D. Mode, Sep, Floyd, and so on). Its nice to seethat their fan base can possibly find some new bands to dig through this.
Tommy doesn't do all of the vocals on this album...if you mentioned that, I missed it. He does not sing "Change", for one. Also, my only real note for this album is that the vocals are mixed a little low on "Cemetary Gates" for my liking...the solo as well.
I like this album though, I mean...it's a cover album.
My general problem with this album is the fact that I would rather listen to the original version of the song they are covering. It was a cool idea, and they pulled it off and everything, but I really never have a reason to listen to this if I'm gonna listen to BTBAM. That said, although I find it hard to rate albums (for numerous reasons) I would have no clue as to what to rank this.