Review Summary: Between The Buried And Me's most focused effort to date, "The Great Misdirect" presents six sprawling songs that are glorious in concept and execution, you cannot miss this album.
What is there to say about Between the Buried and Me that hasn’t already been said? They’re great at their instruments, and some consider them to be the pioneers of the progressive metal genre. 2007’s Colors
was a new landmark in their discography, with all eight tracks coming together as a cohesive whole and going on to be one of the highest rated albums of the year. So where does BTBAM go from there? They write a record entitled The Great Misdirect
, an album that surpasses everything they’ve ever written, which is no easy task.
Everything that one would expect from BTBAM is here: the insanely technical guitar work, the lightning-fast drumming, the poppy and twangy bass, and for better or worse, Tommy Rogers’ screaming, singing, and keyboard playing, the latter of which happens to make a prominent appearance here. Consisting of a paltry six tracks, one might expect this to be a brief listening experience. Not so, as it clocks in at around one hour, and the tracks often go past the 10-minute mark, the longest of which goes on for a glorious 18 minutes.
So what makes this better, if it’s more or less the same BTBAM? Well for one, they have reached yet another plateau in their technical ability on this album. The guitar riffs, solos, and sweeps are more impressive than ever and will keep you entertained throughout the entire album, whereas on Colors
the jamming frequently became an annoyance. The drumming is also as close to perfect as I’ve ever heard. It’s fast, loud, technical, driving, and tight. The bass is only heard occasionally, but unlike Colors
where it’s single moment of standout glory was the solo on “Viridian,” every time we hear it here, its distinguished and provides a good groove to the songs. Rogers has also stepped up on the vocals, his screaming improving ever so subtly, and his clean singing is far more tolerable, as he has ditched autotune completely. This is a good thing, as the tracks “Mirrors” and “Desert of Song” feature solely singing. The keyboards also play a bigger role here and provide more than just ambiance, and are the driving factor of the song “Fossil Genera,” which happens to be a choice cut from the album.
Beyond rambling about how well BTBAM plays their respective instruments, the songs themselves are all unique and amazing on their own and as an album. “Mirrors” is a short introduction track backed by acoustic guitar and Rogers’ singing, and leads seamlessly into the Colors
-esque “Obfuscation.” The first half of the song is classic BTBAM and essentially shows off the new level of talent they’ve acquired playing straightforward metalcore, while the second half is some of the most beautiful sweeping and soloing in their discography. “Disease, Injury, Madness” continues in this vein and only keeps impressing with some outstanding keyboard sections paired with some clean singing. Not a bad first half.
“Fossil Genera” is one of the two highlight tracks here, and really showcases the newfound use of the keyboards here, opening with a campy, almost circus like tune that is quickly overrun by a heavy guitar riff. Rogers shows off his singing here with a catchy, sing-songy vibe that pervades the whole song. All the while, the keyboards back it all up and make this one of the more interesting tunes as it progresses into the familiar BTBAM metal.
Without any doubt, the gem of this album and BTBAM’s entire discography is the epic, 18 minute long “Swim to the Moon.” This song incorporates everything the band has and mashes it together, and it somehow comes out as extremely smooth and cohesive. After being led into by the acoustic interlude “Desert of Song,” it slowly pans out with an odd drum beat and some keyboards, eventually leading to a full on classical guitar solo that switches from distortion to clean with ease and is easily the most technical moment of the album. After about three minutes of jamming, the vocals kick in, and they are the best ever on a BTBAM song. The guitars continue trading off solos in the background, and this goes on for a glorious nine minutes, before things mellow out and were given a brief atmospheric break with some acoustic guitar lines. What follows is a straight up jam session a la Dream Theatre. Except it doesn’t suck. Its varied, technical, entertaining, and all around perfection.
As this epic creeps to a close and Rogers screams for the listener to “Swim to the moon,” you’ll find yourself in musical heaven, and as soon as the last notes ring out, you won’t be able to help clamoring for the repeat button.