Review Summary: Between the Buried and Me decided to refine their songwriting and their approach, and I couldn’t be any happier.
Between the Buried and Me have been a band constantly evolving since their arrival to the scene in 2000 with their self-titled debut album. With each album they have been pulling further and further away from their metalcore roots which arguably started with The Silent Circus and ended up with Colors with the latter seen as their defining album. Whilst I agree that Colors was a milestone in their career, it wasn’t a classic and was certaintly not short of flaws or critics. So two years on with The Great Misdirect how would Between the buried and me continue their evolution of sound?
Quite simply put, they don’t. Instead Between the Buried and Me have redefined their sound and refined pretty much everything that was wrong with Colors. For a start one of the problems with Colors that many people have argued is that there isn’t many riffs that are memorable and that stick out from the first listen, especially in the 13 minute shred fest Ants of the Sky. Whilst Colors took quite a few listens for certain riffs to be memorable, The Great Misdirect greatly benefits from more memorable song writing. Riffs are much more easily distinguishable and memorable than ever, particularly the progression in Disease, Injury, Madness at 6:36 and the truly epic riff near the end of the jam session of Swim to the Moon at 13:18. In fact the whole of Swim to the Moon possibly has more memorable stand out points than the entire Colors album but ill come to that later.
‘Disease, Injury, Madness’ and ‘Fossil Genera’ are easily two of the best songs that Between the buried and me have ever constructed. The former being possibly the best song they have ever written starting off with a barrage of metal riffs and Tommy’s infamous love/hate screaming before a wave of atmosphere and keyboards transfers into the long cleanly sung passage. Transfers between the heavy/soft parts are way more natural than Colors and seem less forced whilst remaining just as memorable as the clean passages of ‘Sun of Nothing’ or ‘Ants of the Sky’. Whilst both those songs clean sections were particularly brilliant, Between the Buried and Me have learned that there is more ways to transfer into their cleaner parts without having to resort to chugging which there is less off than ever.
The other main criticism that has come with Colors is the use of Between the Buried and Me’s quirky genre interludes which sometimes come off as random or not fitting into the song. Whilst I think this is true, i think it serves its purpose well and doesn’t come across as completely nuts with the exception of Bungle-Esque part in Sun of Nothing which makes no absolute sense but never fails to make me laugh. ‘Fossil Genera’ however makes use of Between the Buried and Me’s quirkiness alot better, it has one of the best intro’s they have ever had with Tommy’s circus like keyboard under some slow doomish metal riffage. The circus vibe throughout the entire song is very written and whilst many might complain about Between the buried and me’s sense of fun with their genre styles, i personally think its a strength of their’s which distinguishes them from many other bands.
Finally there is the 18 min epic closer ‘Swim to the Moon’ which has some of the most memorable parts to the entire album. This whole song technically is ridiculous, ranging from quirky eastern influenced acoustic guitars, to the guest vocals, to Blakes ridiculous drum solo in which its transfer to the next riff is even more impressive. From 9 and a half minutes to about 15 minutes there is a Dream Theater like Jam session which is on borderline wankery, albeit very good wankery. Whilst I see the pointlessness to many people of this part, I think between the buried and me walk the line between impressive musicianship to complete self-indulgence and is written much more tastefully than many of Dream Theater Jam sessions, and its very impressive. The breakdown that procedes that is very similar to White Walls in vein but ends on a surprising note, one of which I think is great despite the calls for another epic Colors-esque ending which i don’t think was needed.
Overall this album won’t change your perspective of Between the Buried and Me. The technical riffage is still present along with the thick breakdowns which accompany each of the songs, particularly in ‘Obsfucation’ which is the heaviest song on the album. The two shorter songs ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Desert of Song’ are rightful tracks on their own featuring a surprisingly pleasant singing dual between Paul and Tommy and Dan’s amazing bass work which has been used much more often and effectively in this album, a definite highlight. Tommy’s vocals haven’t really changed, they have improved quite a bit and particularly his cleans are alot more natural but won’t deter critics of previous albums. This is superior to Colors in pretty much every single way if nothing groundbreaking, Between the Buried and Me decided to refine their songwriting and their approach, and I couldn’t be any happier.