Review Summary: Through its relentless riffs, dazzling melodies, and altogether beautiful combinations of ideas, Colors gives me a much-needed reminder that we do indeed live in a vibrant, and beautiful world.
Between the Buried and Me’s Colors
is the inconceivable result of a gathering of boundless imaginations. It’s musical intensity in all its forms; relentless riffing, dazzling melodies, and unusual, but never uneven, genre-hopping. The album represents creativity with no boundaries or restrictions, but nothing on the album is ever too outlandish or bizarre. The album takes you to many strange lands using many different methods, but it’s all laced with a certain accessibility that assures you you’ll end up safe back home in the end. All of its sounds and ideas come together beautifully to create the definition of an unforgettable musical journey.
Probably the biggest part of what makes the album so great, and what contributes most to its worth, is what I mentioned earlier, the fact that it has no restraints stifling its creativity, genre included. Yes, the metal (and other sub-genres of it) influence is prevalent, but the band by no means denies any musical idea because it’s not ‘metal’ enough, or for any other reason. They write the music that sounds best for the message being sent in each passage of each song. On the album, this is just as prevalent as the metal influence. The album’s opener, “Foam Born (A): The Backtrack,” begins the journey with a soft, tranquil piano lead, consisting of a simple, but powerful chord pattern, all underneath Tommy’s singing. And Tommy’s singing voice is just so damn pleasant. The album also dabbles in…polka, or…whatever it is, in “Sun of Nothing,” “Ants of the Sky,” and “Prequel to the Sequel.” This album is above something so petty and dogmatic as genre, more specifically, genre-labeling. The album isn’t biased when showing you the places that sit along the edge of the eclectic journey it takes you on. You get it all. Good thing it’s all awesome.
This album is the perfect example of an album being a ‘journey,’ because, as it’s often noted for, it can easily be looked at as one hour-long song. This is because even though there are transitions between songs, there’s a never a break in sound. But what’s really cool is that if someone listened to one song from the album, without knowing it’s part of a 64-minute odyssey, they would never guess that that song is a continuation off another. For instance, the third track, “Informal Gluttony,” closes with a jungle-esque atmosphere of big, bombastic-sounding percussion, didgeridoo, and animal noises. The percussion gradually gets faster and faster until it seamlessly transitions into the intro to “Sun of Nothing,” which begins with a quick, but awesome drum fill. When you listen to “Sun of Nothing” separately, though, you only hear that drum fill in the beginning, and thus, can’t tell that it was built off from the end of “Informal Gluttony.” Every song on the album does this.
And not only are the transitions between songs extremely fluid and well executed, but so are the transitions within the songs. Seriously, there aren’t many other albums I’ve heard with 10+ minute songs keeping you captivated their entire length. And what I think keeps songs like “Sun of Nothing,“ “Ants of the Sky,“ and “White Walls” (the three longest tracks) captivating their entire duration is the fact that every part of the song is strong. Every riff, every build-up, bridge and breakdown, and every solo. For example, in “White Walls,” if the song had lost your attention before the build-up that happens around the 6:50 mark, that build-up wouldn’t have been as intense and had the same effect on you. That’s why every part of the album that’s supposed to be epic, is. Because you never get bored before it. Every note on the album is potent, and if every melody and every riff don’t soar, they get off the ground at the very least.
And the melodies that soar (both with music and vocals) go so incredibly high. There are moments on this album that make me cower in fear, and moments that make me feel like I can break through a brick wall. It astonishes me at how many people who regard this album highly seem to only talk about its composition and musicianship; am I honestly the one that hears the energy in every note? Is the intro to “Prequel To the Sequel” not the happiest sounding melody you’ve heard in a long time? Does it not instantly put a grin on your face and persuade you to just start jumping around? What about all the suspenseful build-ups in “White Walls,” and the part where Tommy growls with conviction; “don’t show them how you truly are/who would want honesty/who would want a group of people, that one can relate with”? Or how about any other verse, bridge, or refrain on the album? The musicianship on this album is not its only aspect to sit back and be blown away by.
I mentioned earlier that on this album, the band uses whatever musical idea will best represent, or represent in an interesting way, the ideas being conveyed in that particular song. (Regardless of genre.) And the band chose well, because as I just previously mentioned, along with this album’s incredible musicianship, the emotional depths it reaches to are astounding as well. The lyrics touch on a variety of subjects, and touch on them all perfectly.
“Informal Gluttony” speaks of the artificiality of our civilization, our robotic everyday routines, and our being ruled by our jam-packed schedules, wasting all our time away:
Construction paper traffic,
Corner office destruction
The cityscape burns brighter by the hour
Clock tower: bring us all down.
“Sun of Nothing,” a song whose lyrics I can really identify with, paints a crystal-clear picture of a man who’s tired of his boring, everyday routine, and wants to float away to a place where he can live a fuller life.
Everywhere I look they are there
What is everyone doing? Going to a home?
A place that makes us feel warm,
A place that grants us a smile, grants us a smile
Seems like a very simple idea,
But not hardly figured out.
I just see faces,
Faces staring blank,
As they go on with their routine.
The song descriptively goes through the man’s entire journey to the ‘sun’ and back, where the man realizes what he was looking for was in his original home all along. This song contains many different kinds of passages, all perfectly fitting the corresponding lyric. When Tommy starts singing “I’m floating towards the sun, the sun of nothing,” his voice is so light and pleasant, and the music behind it so straight-forward and powerful, you feel like you’re floating. When a low, brutal riff backs up Tommy’s growling “I can’t believe this is what it has come to,” you can feel the intense regret and confusion. It really is quite an experience. And this flawless combining of music and lyric continues on the entire album.
Another song that I think brings up some really fascinating ideas is “Ants of the Sky,” which muses on the fact that since ants cannot differentiate one day from another, their life might as well be one long dream. And to my interpretation, the lyrics say that with the right perception, life can be this way for a human, too. And if our life is a dream, we can do whatever we want, regardless of the laws of physics. We can be the ‘ants of the sky.’
In your mind, you can fly.
Even with all these different ideas in each song, the album’s metal focal point and the fact that there’s no break in sound between songs unifies all the songs, creating one fascinating and beautiful piece of music. And, “Ants of the Sky” also happens to have one of the best melody-riffs, and outros I’ve ever heard. Just an added bonus.
I’ve heard many people bag on this album because it’s ‘pretentious’ or because its ideas aren’t coherent enough. I can honestly say that I don’t even have an idea of where they’re coming from on these points. There’s just too many people out there that automatically dismiss a 10+ minute song as self-indulgent gobbledygook, without even perceptively listening to it. Every note on this album is strategically placed, and every note on this album has a place. And to be honest, there really isn’t that much ‘look-at-how-good-a-musician-I-am’ flaunting a lot of people seem to complain about. I mean, yeah, a lot of the songs are long, but it’s mostly taken up by the elaborate lyrical storytelling, and a few instrumental breaks here and there. There’s a few solos, but they’re all not that long, they’re all fantastic, (the one that closes “White Walls,” especially) and they’re all far from self-indulgent. To me, the album sounds like the band set out to create a piece of music that elaborately and vibrantly expresses a variety of ideas, and it just happened to be extremely technical and overflowing with stunning musicianship. As opposed to an hour-long wankfest, recorded for the sole purpose of showing off their musical virtuosity to their listeners. And like I’ve already explained in previous parts of this review, this album is the farthest thing from incoherent.
Between the Buried and Me’s Colors
is an epic, amazing, and beautiful journey through the lush, green valleys and along the winding rivers of music and art. The journey is long, but never daunting. For the opening piano chords of “Foam Born (A): The Backtrack” promise you’ll end up safe back at home, and the piano pattern that brings “White Walls” to a close shows that the promise was kept. Through its relentless riffs, dazzling melodies, and altogether beautiful combinations of ideas, Colors gives me a much-needed reminder that we do indeed live in a vibrant, and beautiful world.