Review Summary: Colors v2.0: New and improved
Between the Buried and Me have always been somewhat of a mixed bag. Their most controversial release, Colors
, saw the progressive metalcore band toying with genres as if they were playing with legos, ultimately creating what some consider to be a masterpiece. Colors
did have its flaws though, one of the most prevalent being cohesiveness. Since then the quintet have been polishing their genre-shifting sound to fix this flaw. The Great Misdirect
almost had it right, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues
was another step in the right direction, and finally with The Parallax II: Future Sequence
, Between the Buried and Me make their most focused album to date – a well structured, 72 minute flowing piece of music that epitomizes Between the Buried and Me’s take on progressive metal.
One of my biggest gripes with Colors
was the pure ridiculousness of some ideas. The Mr. Bungle rip-off from “Sun of Nothing” almost ruins the momentum of the song and the hoedown at the end of “Ants of the Sky” is fun but detracts from what is otherwise one of their best outros. In The Parallax II
, everything seems to fit nice and snug within its context. For example, one of the strongest tracks on the record “Extremophile Elite” has a vibraphone, tuba, and string break at around the four-minute mark. Out of context this may sound childish but the motif in the section is repeated in the guitars soon after, making it important to the song as a whole. Also, “Bloom” is essentially an entire song dedicated to their silly and farfetched ideas and oddly enough - through the use of a good song structure and their newly developed writing skills – they make it work.
The album beings with the intro “Goodbye to Everything” and right of the bat you notice Tommy Rogers’ improved clean singing. This time around he seems a lot more confident with his voice and it shows. A number of songs on the album have very well sung choruses, notably the infectious one in “Melting City.” His screams are much more refined as well, sounding much less airy and much more ballsy, even verging on death metal growls at some points. The rest of the band is at the top of their game as usual. The riffs and solos are insane, the drums are ridiculous, and the bass is audible and not blindly following the rhythm guitar (a godsend for a metal band). The band has always been technically talented, there’s no doubt about that, but again the real improvement on this album is the song writing.
Take the ten-minute “Melting City,” for example. Typically in Between the Buried and Me’s longer songs they start off playing riff after riff, new idea after new idea, throw in a few avant-garde sections, maybe tie the whole thing together with a recurring chorus, and close it out with an end climax with very little build up. “Melting City” does none of this. In fact, the song has an extremely simple structure, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus, with a few well-placed transitions in between while simultaneously being one of their most progressive (and in my opinion, best) songs to date. The fifteen-minute “Silent Flight Parliament” is more of a standard Between the Buried and Me long song except the ideas flow very well into one another and it actually has direction. It also does what “White Walls” did in Colors
by quoting previous motifs in the album, such as the polyrhythmic intro of “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” and a couple guitar riffs from “Telos.” These two songs are easily the strongpoint of the album, which then leads into the album outro “Goodbye to Everything Reprise” to tie up the concept of the record and ending the album on a positive note.
The other songs are just as impressive. “Astral Body” hints at Dream Theater in the intro before turning into a genuinely happy sounding metal song, “The Black Box” is a wonderful clean interlude leading into “Telos,” one of Between the Buried and Me’s most rifftastic songs, and “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” is essentially a ten-minute long progressive metal juggernaut. Really the only downside of the album is “Autumn” which does nothing more than segue two songs together with some random spacey noises but thankfully it’s only a little over a minute long so the song ends before any real damage is done. While every song is strong stand-alone, what really makes the album special is how well it flows as one piece of music and even though 72 minutes is a pretty demanding amount of time, Between the Buried and Me’s journey through spacey prog metal makes it worth every second. For me, this is the album that Colors
should’ve been – truly a modern metal classic.