Between The Buried and Me return in 2005 with the follow up to their 2003 album, The Silent Circus
. After releasing two earlier albums, Alaska
builds upon the success the band has already had. With a new lineup and new ideas, Alaska
is set to be one of the best metal albums of 2005.
Between The Buried and Me
Tommy Rogers - Vocals, Keyboards
Paul Waggoner - Guitar
Dan Briggs - Bass
Dusty Waring - Guitar
Blake Richardson - Drums
With the loss of three members of Between The Buried and Me, fans were concerned as to whether Alaska
would be up to the standard of previous releases. With new members from Glass Casket, Between The Buried and Me have not only outdone previous efforts, they have proven that the core of the band consists of Tommy and Paul, the band's founders. Fans worried about the presence of new members can put all fears to rest. The bass has much more grove than ever and a much nicer tone in both clean and heavy sections. The drums are far tighter than ever seen before with Between The Buried and Me. The guitars are simply amazing. Brilliant riffs fly all over the shop while beautifully executed pops and squeals run through every song. Tommy has also added a lot more synth work to the band and it is used to great effect.Alaska
walks into the territory that the band's first two albums covered and goes further. Along with all of the death metal, hardcore, metalcore, emo etc styles that were covered by the first two albums, Between The Buried and Me expand on the ambient and progressive metal that was hinted on in the first two records. The intro to the album's title track sounds like it could have been ripped out of a Dream Theatre song, as does the opening guitar riffs to "Selkies: The Endless Obsession". The vocals that first appear in "Selkies" sound like they could have been pulled straight out of a clean Blackwater Park
era Opeth song. As well as expanding on previously hinted at styles, the band introduce new influences and play parts that represent black and doom metal. The aforementioned "Selkies: The Endless Obession", one of the highlights of the disc even has a Cynic, "robot vocals" style part in a breakdown. The new sounding Between The Buried and Me is a change from the music heard on The Silent Circus
. Instead of the acoustic songs like "Shevanel (Take 2)", the clean songs on the album are generally ambient songs, hinted at in "Reaction" from The Silent Circus
and Rogers' side project Giles.
As a band, Between The Buried and Me are at their tightest. The instrument work is at it's best, the transitions are at their smoothest and the vocals are at their most proficent. Everything that makes them so good is in full swing on this album. The uplifting (without being cheesy) shredding, the vocal acrobatics of Tommy Rogers (from growling to singing to robot vocals to screaming to power metal falsettos), the jaw dropping technicality and the incredible transitions make welcome appearances. It's rare for a metal band to make such heavy and extreme music that can be so uplifting. But things like the guitar leads at the end of "Selkies" prove that this is possible and that Between The Buried and Me are more than capable of handling it. Essentially, Between The Buried and Me have taken their sound, built on it, added new influences/sounds and made a totally different record. It's what any fan of previous work would have hoped for. It's impossible to list all of the different styles that run through the first couple of tracks alone. There is grind, death metal, hardcore/metalcore, Dimmu Borgir style black metal, progressive metal and ambient to name a few. The last track of the album starts as a pretty acoustic instrumental and morphs into an actual jazz song. It was near impossible to imagine, but Between The Buried and Me have actually outdone previous efforts with this record. While there are obvious highlights, not one song is out of place. Brutal and beautiful, this is a strong contender for album of the year.
The new band members are incredibly good and well suited
Tommy's vocals and keyboards
Tighter music and transitions - the band have stepped far forward
Takes a few listens to get used to and to distinguish between songs
Softer parts are arguably weaker (but it's more that they are different) than on previous releases
Selkies: The Endless Obession
FINAL RATING: 5/5