Review Summary: Tweedle-dee, meets Tweedle-dumbass.
Towards the end of 2008 I came upon a list of albums that were expected to be released during 2009 and couldn’t help but notice that it seemed as if this would be the make or break year of the often criticized Metalcore genre. Certainly the year started off promisingly with 90’s Metalcore pioneers Coalesce releasing one of the most impressive metalcore albums of the year, but just as quickly the success of OX was cramped by the dire release that was Hollow Crown, brought to you by the over-hyped British twat-sickles; Architects. The year continued down this path and slowly it seemed as if the genre was heading towards its end.
Converge, a band who could quite easily claim the title of “most consistent band” within the genre put out an album that didn’t quite stand up to their previous releases, and of course (not to put too fine a point on it) August Burns Red released another album (God help us). So where does Between the Buried and Me fit into all the mess that surrounds one of the more infamous genres in recent years? Exactly where they stood 2 years ago, and that’s the problem.
With The Great Misdirect we find Between the Buried and Me hiding behind certain aspects of their previous work. The fact is, being technical simply isn’t good enough anymore; when BTBAM released The Silent Circus it really was a groundbreaking achievement. Few had heard a Metalcore band with such technical skill, and as such the sheer technical ability allowed many to overlook certain flaws within the songwriting. This continued onto their third album, Alaska, which added more to the formula that worked on TSC and finally came to a climax on Colors. But even then there were problems. At times Colors was too cheesy and disjointed; rather than focusing on adding new elements to their sound, the band insisted on throwing out ridiculous segments involving Mike Patton impersonations and hoe-downs.
So where does that put us now? Well, in a somewhat interesting twist the stupidity is gone, there isn’t a bunch of genre-mashing solely to illicit a response of “that was weird”, but in place of the randomness comes predictability. The Great Misdirect is Colors 2.0; it’s the Windows 7 to Colors Vista; they got rid of the annoying parts, sure, but it’s still not a Mac. Everything on the album is vintage BTBAM; technical riffs/fills? Sure. Horrible vocals from lead gimp Tommy Rogers? You know it. Genre hopping? Kinda. What’s new? Nothing at all.
The fact is, Between the Buried and Me have tried nothing, and they’re out of ideas. There’s nothing fresh, there’s no progression. It’s exactly the same as everything they’ve already done. It even sounds like songs they’ve already written. But let’s not go crazy, surely some things have changed? Well, Tommy Rogers has learnt to play his Keyboards a little better, but it’s not enough. Similarly, Rogers’ obsession with vocal effects has also increased; throughout the album are sections of layered vocals chucking his vomit growls on top of a choir of auto-cleans. Sad fact; his trickery doesn’t actually make his vocals any more enjoyable than they already weren’t.
So we’ve covered the basics: Tommy still sucks and the band has no new ideas but can I fault their playing? No, I cannot, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fault their song writing. As per usual, random is the word of the day, every day in BTBAM-land. They still seem as disjointed as ever moving from heavier segments into free-jazz and back again. It’s a good thing no one ever combined jazz and metal before………… wait a minute.
At the end of it all, The Great Misdirect is an utter disappointment. There’s no progression and in general no effort whatsoever on the band’s part to move forward. Shredding and theatrics don’t help. Perhaps the Buried boys should take a page from Metalcore colleagues The Dillinger Escape Plan and try to move beyond the niche they’ve found themselves in. It’s my hope that BTBAM will take a look in the mirror and re-evaluate their stance on music, because if it doesn’t change soon they’ll not only be surpassed by their peers, they’ll enter a state of obsolescence and have nothing left to do but be jealous.