Review Summary: Between the Buried and Me push their boundaries and release an album that will make an appearance on numerous "Album of the Year" lists.
Between the Buried and Me release the album that I consider to be their "Kid A" so far. Upon first listen, this album didn't do anything for me. I bought it from the iTunes store because I read numerous reviews saying it was really good. I listened through it while playing Skate on my 360. I think I was more involved with playing my game then I was listening to this album. After it was over I thought that it was really boring and every song sounded the same to me. I decided to save it for a rainy day. I went back to it a couple of months later when my older brother told me how amazing it was. I listened through multiple times while reading along with the lyrics. I came to the conclusion that it was indeed and unbelievable album. I think "Alaska" really opened the door for their creative side. There are a lot of different musical influences throughout the album: there's jazz, blues, ho-down, a little folk, some polka, etc. I had never heard of a metal band using these elements amidst the chaos. It was quite a surprise to me. It was at this moment that I really got into BTBAM, and this album was on repeat on my computer for a good month or so. But what BTBAM do really well on this album is create a mood for the song. “Informal Gluttony” is an eerie song about consumerism; “Sun of Nothing” is a softer more ballad-like song and is about a man who floats towards the sun to kill himself. This album was the beginning of their musical maturation. Whereas “The Silent Circus” and “Alaska” mainly consisted of heavy riffs and breakdowns, “Colors” mainly consist of technical riffs and smooth clean sections. Overall this an incredibly polished album throughout with plenty of musical mastery within.
This album really is special. I always thought it was really cool how every song flows seamlessly into the next. It gives you the feel that you're listening to an hour long song. But, there are noticeable differences between the end of one song, and the beginning of the next song. So it's not hard at all to differentiate between them. Not only does BTBAM write some of the best material they've ever written, but the overall sound is just so polished. Tommy's growls aren't gravelly anymore, his cleans are very smooth, and the bass is 100% audible in every song. It's also their first album to have the majority of songs over eight minutes long. However, this album is also their first album to get criticized a lot of the time. Most of the criticism claims that the album is just BTBAM wanking around on their instruments, there isn’t any structure, it’s just a collection of “look what I can do” riffs. Well, to each his own, not everyone is going to like a 13 minute song that has blues, country, and metal coinciding. But, for the musical thrill-seeker in you, this album is the “X” that marks the spot.
1. Foam Born: The Backtrack - 9/10: A really affective intro to the album. It’s a “different” song from BTBAM. We as listeners aren’t used to the soft crooning of Tommy along with a delicate piano melody. This song might turn some fans of old BTBAM away.
2. Foam Born: The Decade of Statues - 9.5/10: I like to associate this song with “The Primer”. It’s a very heavy song with multiple breakdowns included. A couple good riffs here and there, and it has a great chorus. It also contains one of the coolest guitar sections, the clean part towards the end of the song sounds like it would be unfathomably hard to play. Not to mention how catchy the riff right before the final chorus is.
3. Informal Gluttony - 9/10: A very interesting song from BTBAM. We're used to hearing some pretty heavy *** from these guys. But on this song they really try something new. It starts with some tribal drums and didgeridoos in the background. There's some type of chant also. It eventually develops into this Arabian type riff that reminds of the intro to "Aladdin". This Arabian journey is soon compromised by the usual BTBAM heaviness. This havoc carries us to the catchiest chorus on the album. Dan and Paul singing "Feed me fear" while Tommy comes in with "Informal...Gluttony" gives it an eerie feeling. The riffs in this song are pretty good, but not as good as I had hoped they would be, the song kind of falls flat after the intro. The only thing that keeps this song strong is the chorus.
4. Sun of Nothing - 10/10: This song ignites with the awesome drum fill from Blake, and picks up where "Foam Born: (B)" left off. There is a lot of clean sections in this song, and I mean A LOT. The first is just a simple strumming pattern with a shaker in the background, nothing special, but it's a nice breather from the song. Tommy sings in a quiet, muffled filter which makes the line ironic, he's singing "The spaceman" and it sounds like he's shouting it from space. Then, my favorite part, the quirky jazzy bit with piano, a groovy bass line, baby laughter, Paul going "A-whoo, a-teeta", and Tommy singing a very creepy "la la la la, la la la" section. There are a lot of catchy moments in this song. The catchiest being the massive clean section that occupies just under three minutes.
5. Ants of the Sky - 10/10: My favorite song on the album. A fantastic set of sweeps captures our attention from the get-go. This song has by far the most technical riffs I’ve ever heard from BTBAM. This song really shows how much they’ve grown as a band. As a whole, the song has a lot of “western” elements in it. The first guitar solos sound very “classic rock/bluesy” and have a “tasty” quality to them. Another thing to note is the extensive use of the keyboards, however, not used to the point of exhaustion. Eventually making it’s the way to the clean section, the song takes a dramatic turn. The epic lead up to the chorus, the haunting singing of the chorus, the catchy bass line that follows the chorus, the second chorus, and the solo…oh my the solo. The main guitar solo is astounding to say the least. Using only clean guitar, Paul somehow manages to match the overall efficacy that “Mordecai” possessed. Then. just when you think the song has reached its capacity, we are welcomed by a bunch of hillbillies in a bar. Not only was the instrumental part of it thoroughly enjoyable, but the conversing that was taking place made it feel like I was sitting in a saloon during a bar fight.
6. Prequel to the Sequel - 9.5/10: The fan favorite by far. “Prequel” is very similar to “Ants of the Sky” in terms of technicality. The majority of this song is an array of technical wizardry. Heavy breakdowns are also in the mix, but the song focuses more on the guitarist’s ability to play. Not to mention the polka section. Accordions, bass, and Tommy’s strongly inflected talking gives an odd feeling to the section. Adam Fisher’s guest vocals are very good on this song. He really gives the song the energy it needs to get to the end. Of course, Tommy’s singing has to make an appearance. A very small singing section that feels kind of like they added it in just so Tommy could sing in the song. However, it is catchy.
7. Viridian - 10/10: My absolute favorite instrumental. Paul begins with a beautiful guitar section on top of a subtle synth. Eventually, Dan makes his prominent appearance with a wonderful bass solo. Yes, a bass solo, and it’s not an arrogant solo like most bass virtuosos. No, Dan is a man of subtlety, who appreciates the finer things in music. He does play a couple of tremolo parts that show off his talent, but most of the solo is done modestly. He isn’t saying “look what I can do, I betcha can’t play this!” Nope, he’s just having some fun with one of the few moments he gets to shine.
8. White Walls - 10/10: The second best song. Kicking off with a thunderous guitar riff and pummeling drums, this song is a perfect contender to close out the album. The song consists of a variety of technical riffs, including some riffs that were played in other songs on the album. One section from “Decade of Statues” another from “Informal Gluttony”, etc. This is a really interesting idea that makes you realize that earlier moments from the album are making an appearance. Like a thriller movie, when the end is approaching and the main character has a flashback of prior events that seem to tie together to make an overall point: Perfect example “Fight Club”. There are a couple of well executed breakdowns that capture the heavy quality few breakdowns capture. A nice clean section is introduced about five minutes in that has Tommy singing a drawn out melody, with Paul and Dan repeating “Step back” underneath. Then, the riff from “Viridian” makes an appearance, accompanied with a nifty synth section. The band then sings “Get out of this closed off circle” and “We are part of…” until the onslaught of guitars are introduced. Tommy continues his epic singing though the final chorus. This is when *** goes down. The breakdown that has Tommy screaming “White Wall!!!” is one of those “I need new pants…” moments. The remainder of the song is reserved for Paul and Dustie shredding their way through the last few minutes. The song ends with a delicate piano melody that makes the ending even more dramatic.
Between the Buried and Me provide their listeners with a very diverse album that gives the band their unique and independent sound. The album name “Colors” fits this album perfectly. The album’s sound is very diverse and ranges from happy and bright melodies to ominous and dissonant chords. It’s a very colorful album and basically covers the whole spectrum of colors. This is why I feel that this album is so interesting. Anyone can write a 14 minute song, but not everyone can write a musically diverse song. Between the Buried and Me really outdo themselves with this release. In the process, I’m sure they surprised all of their fans with this album.
- The band as a whole has completely enhanced their sound
- Paul and Dustie provide outstanding riffs throughout
- Dan’s bass solo in “Viridian”
- Blake’s phenomenal drumming
- A vast collection of different genres
- Some of the songs jump randomly from section to section
- Ants of the Sky
- White Walls
- Sun of Nothing
- Prequel to the Sequel