Review Summary: Between the Buried and Me return with a new and improved line up, and an album that far transcends their previous effort.
Between the Buried and Me return with a new line up. Adding Dustie Waring on guitar, Dan Briggs on bass, and Blake Richardson on drums, is probably one of the best things to happen to this band. I'm not saying they wouldn't have been good with their old lineup, I'm just saying that the new members sound like they work better together. The result is a masterpiece of an album. Between the Buried and Me have been one of my favorite bands for the past couple of years. The only band I enjoy more is The Dear Hunter. But in terms of "Metal" music, BTBAM is far ahead of the pack of simple and rehashed bands that recycle the same riffs and ideas. Between the Buried and Me are not afraid to cross the fine line between "safe" and "different". When most bands cross this line we usually get an album of jumbled ideas and incoherent music. Which leaves us wondering "What the fuck did I just listen to?" BTBAM, on the other hand, cross this line with such grace and prowess it makes me wonder if they have any musical boundaries. Sure, there is no musician that has "boundaries", but few musicians realize their true potential like BTBAM.
1. All Bodies - 9.5/10: A strong song from start to finish. Mainly consisting of the heavy metal riffing BTBAM is known for, but they throw in a few orchestral sections in there. The beautifully sung chorus by frontman Tommy Rogers is incredible.
2. Alaska - 9/10: Probably their most famous song. However, despite the fact that the intro is fantastically written (one of the most memorable moments in the bands discography) the rest of the song fails to live up to it's bold introduction. Still a great song to jam to though.
3. Croakies and Boatshoes - 8/10: Ehhhhhhh...this song could have been so much more than what it is. Granted it is a fun song to listen to, and it shows how heavy this band can be, I just feel that it was left incomplete.
4. Selkies: The Endless Obsession - 10/10: The landmark track on the album. Another fan favorite, and for good reason. This is the first song on the album where Paul and Dustie really shine in the "clean" section of the song. During the beautiful solo, Dustie plays a series of very melodic chords, meanwhile Paul is playing and unbelievable guitar solo. Everything about this song, whether it's the fantastic guitar work from Paul and Dustie, the catchy motif of the keyboard, the beautiful singing, or Tommy screaming "Goddamn television God!" truly makes it a masterpiece.
5. Breathe In, Breathe Out - 8.5/10: A pretty instrumental song featuring only guitar. Normally, I would say that this song is too short for my liking. However, I feel that the abruptness of the song adds to it's beautiful quality. I usually think of this song as the guy that makes an appearance to a party and everyone's happy to see him, then when he leaves you're left saying, "Well that was a nice surprise, I'm glad he could make it."
6. Roboturner - 9/10: A great heavy song. This is the "headbanger" on the album. Great riffs throughout, and a really fun bass line a couple of minutes in (which makes an appearance at the end of the song as well). However, as incredible as the last section of this song is (constantly building momentum and heaviness even thought it's slowing down) I feel that this is the guy who shows up to the party, and everyone wants him to leave, everyone's thinking, "Why is he still here? Shouldn't he have left like a half hour ago?" Despite the lingering effect of the last section, it is still fun to listen to, and it's an interesting moment on the album.
7. Backwards Marathon - 10/10: My absolute favorite song by the band. The first two minutes literally kick you in the balls with it's tenacious heaviness and tight guitar riffs. Tommy's growls rattle my jowls amongst the chaos that envelops the first two minutes. Then, we are greeted with the warm and cozy welcome of the beautiful clean section that carries us comfortably along, as if preparing us for the chaos that lurks ahead. Dan makes a notable appearance in the clean section with a great bass line. Tommy also gets the notable appearance for coining one of the most hauntingly gorgeous singing I have heard from a metal band. The last notable moment: Tommy's high note. At the very end of the clean section that occupies most of the song Tommy lets out this ethereal shriek of goodness. Still gives me the chills.
8. Medicine Wheel - 9/10: Another instrumental, but this song incorporates all the instruments. The song carries out the rain effect that closed out the latter. This song has a great guitar riff, that is covered by the warm blanket of the beautiful melody. This song just makes me feel as if I am where I am supposed to be with my life. It's the reassurance I need to make my next big decision. BTBAM has yet to write an instrumental that hasn't had a strong emotional effect on me. Bravo BTBAM.
9. The Primer - 9.5/10: My jam-to song on the album. Once again, the song starts with the sound effect that closed out the latter. Fading into a "Pirate-like" riff that just gets ya moving. Tommy gives this riff it's full effect with his epic shriek. Followed by the heavy riffs and blast beats. Next come the head-scratching effect of the technical riffs that ensue. Then it's back to the intro riff. Building up to it's epic climax, then abruptly falling back to earth. More specifically at a carnival. The closing riff of this song is very catchy and has a circus quality to it.
10. Autodidact - 9.5/10: Coming in like All Bodies did, this song is a heaviness buffet. Constant bombardment from the onslaught of Paul and Dustie. This song gives me the vision of Paul and Dustie battling each other with riffs. Paul has one, then Dustie returns the favor with a heavier one, then Paul comes back with a technical oddly-timed section. About halfway through the song we get a nifty piano section that gives the effect of an old-style chase scene. Tommy chasing the rest of the band in a very quirky way. Next, bring back the heaviness, I wasn't finished with it. Closing the song with a breakdown of epic proportions.
11. Laser Speed - 9/10: A great acoustic instrumental. Very catchy melodies are found throughout. I envision Paul walking the crowded streets of Mexico jamming on his acoustic in slow motion. Then, somehow, we end up inside a hotel elevator. It's a weird transition, but it works perfectly. An enjoyable end to a masterpiece.
Alaska is in my opinion the best BTBAM album to date. Sure, it's not as technical as ''"Colors, there aren't as many solos as "The Great Misdirect", and the quirky interludes haven't yet come to fruition. But, for this being the first album they wrote with a 3/5 new line up, it is nothing short of amazing.
-Tommy's vocals are vastly improved from "The Silent Circus"
-Dustie works much better with Paul than Nick did
-The addition of Dan is prominent and noteworthy
-Blake does a spectacular job of upping the technicality
-The lyrics are very well written and thought out
-Keys are used appropriately
-Croakies and Boatshoes could have been a great track