Review Summary: Prog-metal at its finest.
I’d never really given BTBAM any thought until last year when they showed up at a festival. Though they only played two songs in their half hour set, I knew pretty much then and there that I’d enjoy their presence on my Ipod and in my cd collection. So I downloaded their full discography and got lost, but not in the way I was expecting. I dropped in at the beginning and couldn't reconcile that sound with what I’d heard at their session, so I moved up to Colors, but again I got lost. It was just too big for me, and still is. When I finally got to The Great Misdirect, I was starting to get disheartened. Even though I really liked what they were doing with the new direction to their sound, I couldn't quite sink my teeth into them. Finally, Parallax emerged, and I found the BTBAM I was looking for.
Parallax II is a real trip, with complicated and focused songwriting revolving around an interstellar story involving astral projection, space travel, and evil owls. The music is complex, with forays into avant-garde and some absolute wizardry in the rhythm section (Richardson and Briggs are terrifying musicians) and some stellar guitar, keyboard, and vocals to boot. But what makes Parallax II so much more than its predecessors is the pacing.
Of the 12 songs in the album, 6 are under the four-minute mark, offering the longer tracks of the album some breathing room. These range from acoustic intros and outros to off the wall underwater adventures, but all of them give Parallax II a pacing that has been lacking in their other albums.
This isn't to say that they've lost their spark for the long-haul productions. In fact, “Silent Flight Parliament” might be their finest work yet, an incredible work that pulls from all of the previous songs on the album. Musical themes that you loved from everywhere on the album come home in a masterful reworking that is absolutely breathtaking to listen to.
In short, this is the prog-metal album I've always wanted. The musicians are incredibly talented, the pacing is as close to perfect as you can get, the story is fantastic, and everything comes home in an impressive and culminating finale.
Recommended tracks (but honestly, you should listen to the album as a whole to get the full effect):
Silent Flight Parliament