Review Summary: Colors' evil twin.
In 2007, Between the Buried and Me released Colors. “Colors” was, and still is today, referred to as one of the most impressive metal albums to be released in recent memory. Critics raved about it’s technicality, it’s diversity, and it’s “progressiveness”. Upon the announcement that BTBAM was recording “The Great Misdirect” (TGM from this point on), fans and critics alike all asked the same question; “Will it be better than Colors?” The answer to that question is not that simple, unfortunately. In some aspects, yes, TGM is a better album than Colors. However, it is always a matter of opinion, which is something some people forget about nowadays. In my humble opinion TGM is a more coherent album than “Colors”. However, I feel that “Colors” was more fun to listen to. “Colors” had a lot of quirky interludes that were a lot of fun to listen to, but it wasn’t consistent a lot of times. TGM is basically the complete opposite. TGM replaced the quirky interludes with more coherent genre breaks and increased song writing. Also, whereas “Colors” had a happy, melodic feel to it, and a lot of it was written in a major key, TGM reverses that feel. TGM is a much darker, more ominous album that consists mainly of minor keys. I look at TGM as Colors’ evil twin. Another notable difference is the amount of solos within the album. Colors’, as technical as it was, lacked guitar solos (Ants of the Sky, White Walls are the only songs that have “virtuoso” guitar solos). BTBAM, for one reason or another, decided to fill TGM with a plethora of guitar solos. However, this is an addition that might go unnoticed. Most of the critics, including myself as a listener, was looking for BTBAM to write a more coherent album that didn’t insist upon itself. Well, TGM surely delivered.
A lot of fans will not like this album, mainly due to the fact that the polka and lullaby interludes are no longer relevant. Many fans loved “Colors” because of it’s extensive use of awkward interludes and breaks. Well, in a sense, TGM still has those interludes and breaks, they’re just tuned down to tolerable level. For example, “Sun of Nothing” had an interlude with baby laughter and a circus type feel to it, which was my favorite interlude in the entire album, but it felt unnecessary and it was completely irrelevant from the song itself. Now, where the band improved: “Disease, Injury, Madness” has interludes towards the middle and the end of the song that have a western feel to them. These interludes actually flow very well with the songs progression. The entire song has a western feel to it, so why not use a western-like interlude. The reason this works so well in TGM and not so well in “Colors”, is because the band actually used similar genres in TGM that made sense. As fun as the polka part in “Prequel to the Sequel” was, it was random and didn’t make sense. This gives TGM a more cohesive sound.
The band also improved on it’s instrumental side. Take, for example, the trippy guitar solo in “Obfuscation”, or the western jamboree in “Disease, Injury, Madness”, or the five minute jam session in “Swim to the Moon”. Most of the album is void of Tommy’s vocals, which is actually pretty enjoyable. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when vocalists are included in sections that don’t need vocals, and it ruins the whole section because it sounds disjointed. Tommy uses his vocals carefully throughout the album, occupying only the sections that are pretty standard BTBAM. Tommy, although vocally separated from the band in a lot of sections, improved even more from “Colors”. His growls are earthier, his shrieks are more memorable, and his cleans are just as clean and polished as “Colors”.
1. Mirrors – 9/10: A beautiful and melodic intro similar to “Foam Born: A”, but without the heaviness. Paul and Dustie play beautiful riffs throughout the song. Dan’s bass is even more audible than it was in “Colors”. Tommy croons his way through the beginning and ending of the song with a melody that reminds me a tad of Radiohead vocalist Thomas Yorke.
2. Obfuscation – 10/10: This song really impressed me. A very fast and technical song, accompanied by a couple softer sections that really standout. The guitar solos are fantastic, especially the second solo. This song reminds of me of “Prequel to the Sequel” in the way it doesn’t really have any clean vocals until the very end, it is heavy and technical, and it’s about the same length.
3. Disease, Injury, Madness – 10/10: The “Sun of Nothing” of TGM. Very enjoyable song that includes as much clean as it does filth. The song has a vast collection of clean sections, whether it’s the acoustic break, the second acoustic break, or the bass solo, this song has it all. Not to mention the filthy western influences throughout. Tommy’s vocals, especially his singing, are very catchy. Also, similar to
Sun of Nothing” in length.
4. Fossil Genera: A Feed From Cloud Mountain – 10/10: The “epic” song on the album. The song kicks off with a super catchy piano part that resembles a little bit of Queen. This section kind of feels like I’m walking through a carnival alone at night, and every corner I turn, Tommy pops out and sings the next line. The rest of the song is heavy as hell. Great breakdowns, technical riffs, and tremolo sections occupy the majority of the song. Then, towards the end we are welcomed by the serene sound of Paul’s melody on top of an acoustic minor chord progression. Tommy’s vocals carry us on the beautiful path to the end of the song, which ends with a haunting chant and piano playing the previous melody. This song resembles “Ants of the Sky” in more than one way; it’s about the same length, it’s very fast and heavy, and the only long clean section is played at the end of the song.
5. Desert of Song – 9.5/10: This is BTBAM? This song surprised the hell out of me, I never expected BTBAM to write such an awesome acoustic song. The song starts with a simple chord progression, but Paul is singing. I honestly love Paul’s singing, it fits this song perfectly. Besides, it’s a country-like song and Paul’s voice has a western quality to it. Anyway, the bass underneath the chords is really catchy, and the chorus is really great. The song gets pretty epic towards the end, and ultimately ends with the same chord progression that was used in the intro.
6. Swim to the Moon – 10/10: This is quite the statement. The song is very impressive to say the least. The song starts off with the really catchy acoustic riff that leads into the distorted version. The song is filled with very technical riffs, and a few breakdowns here and there. The chorus is sung flawlessly by Tommy, who is rather scarce in this song. His most prominent appearances are his singing in the chorus, and the final breakdown where he screams “Look into the picture!” Aside from Tommy, the rest of the band performs extremely well. About half of the song is instrumental, and the band really displays their capability to play their instruments. Paul and Dustie spend a couple of minutes shredding their brains out, and Blake even has a drum solo. This song is of course closely related to “White Walls”. It’s the longest song on the album, it’s full of guitar solos and technical riffs, it also has the epic quality towards the end of the song.
TGM is a great example of how a band can grow and develop, even after releasing their “Landmark” album. I think that BTBAM silenced a lot of critics with this album. They did what a lot of people wanted them to: write more structured songs. There are still a few flaws within the album, but they aren’t as noticeable as they have been in the past. BTBAM release an album that is better than “Colors” in some areas, and worse in other areas. However, I still feel that these two albums are very similar in technicality. But TGM is still darker and more ominous, making it Colors’ evil twin.
-Disease, Injury, Madness
-Desert of Song
-Improved song writing
-More coherent, less awkward
-Tommy’s vocals are better
-Paul and Dustie have started writing more ominous songs
-Blake has gotten a lot more intricate
-Dan’s solo is amazing
-Some of Tommy’s lyrics are a little generic
-Some of the riffs are boring