By a show of hands, how many people here like Between the Buried and Me
I'll assume there was quite a fair amount of hands up and rightfully so, I mean Between the Buried and Me is awesome. I have to ask, though, how many of you BTBaM fans have heard what Tommy and Paul (aka: the brains and brawn behind BTBaM) were doing before they visited a silent Alaskan circus? Up until a few months ago, I'd only heard mentions of their prior work, and because it went along with the Metalcore tag, me and my naivete shrugged it off. Recently, however, I've become a little more open to the possibilities, by realizing not every Metalcore release follows the trends, especially ones that were released before the trends existed. Not unlike Jay-Z, I brushed any pre-conceived notions off my shoulder and got myself a copy of The Rain in Endless Fall
. I'm thankful I did, it's a super wicked album.
The album was originally released in 1999, but was re-released and re-mastered (poorly) in 2003. What I mean by the "poorly" is that the re-mastering sounds incomplete. Marc Duncan played bass on the album, but you'd never know by listening. I guess they ran out of money midway through, or maybe just spaced on the bass, because honestly it's a struggle to even hear faint remnants of it. I only heard a few tracks from the original album, though, and I can attest that they sounded much, much worse.
What this album does well lies in its variation. It's technical, though not to the nth degree like, say, Alaska
. There are several vocal styles on the album, and no, Tommy Rogers does not take care of them in PFC, he plays guitar. Dave Anthem is the band's vocalist, and throughout the album he grunts, growls, talks and sings. The clean sung vocals aren't the greatest, but luckily they're only found on Feinbhas A Ghabhail
. While the band does have breakdowns, they vary in both style and tempo, and never seem overused. There's some nice interesting touches on the album, too, such as the acoustic/blastbeat (though it's a pretty slow blastbeat) trade-off at the start of Bael Na Mblath
. If you're expecting Selkies style solos, you'll probably be disappointed. The band has three guitarists, but solos are sparse on the album. That's not to say there isn't a fair share of complexity to be found, however. I suppose they decided that unnecessary wankery would be, well, unnecessary. The album is full of headbangable moments, along with adequate variation and occasional atmosphere. It's still not-atypical to the genre, though, but as I said they were a major influence and so it's understandable that they sound like the bands that are currently ripping them off, which I'll get to in a minute. It's your basic melo-death Swedish influenced riffing interchanged with a hardcore slant, and it's definitely just a slant, I most definitely feel confident in saying it's more of a metal album than anything.
If there's a sad catch-22 with being a band who had high influence on a genre, it's that once that the album's been re-released, you've basically heard it all, often times done much better. While re-releasing an influential album in a now popular genre does give the band adequate exposure, it also sort of kills it for some people, and I mean, a now defunct band with members in a well established band really isnt starving for exposure. I've personally never heard the original pressing, as I'm sure most of you haven't either, but I can imagine that in a sense it could perhaps kill it for some people, as childish as it seems. Fans of the original may remember it to be a lot better than it really was, I guess you could say. Now, I'm not going to say Between the Buried and Me is better than Prayer for Cleansing, because that goes without saying; they basically took the groundwork laid by this band and built upon it. Prayer for Cleansing was a highly influential band, no doubt, but I'm glad they're no more. Their demise spawned a much better, much more interesting band in Between the Buried and Me. While I'm on the topic of faults, I should talk about the lyrics. I won't go so far as to say they're bad, but rather I'll go one step further and say they're downright terrible. They typically "vary" from generic suicidal masochistic hyperbole (as I stare in disbelief, blood drains from open wrists
) to contrived "dark" (see: uninteresting) poetry (the aptly titled Sonnet is a prime example of this), though I do commend the band for being a lot less preachy than you'd expect them to be, I mean, they're a vegan straight edge band, but don't get your hopes up, they still manage to throw in some inane references throughout the livejournalesque blubbering. The lyrics are definitely the weakest point on the album, I mean, "waking from eternal slumber to find my wrists slit open
". Not only is that silly, but it makes no sense. It's not poetic, it's just stupid.
The problem with this album is that, while it was obviously influential, there's definitely been much progression (and regression, I guess) within the genre. It's all done well, but when you put it up to the newer work that flourishes within the genre, especially that of PFC alumni Tommy Rogers and Paul Waggoner, it pales in comparison. Definitely check it out if you're a fan of the genre, or Between the Buried and Me (drummer Will Goodyear was also in the band at one point), you should definitely get your hands on a copy of this album, you shouldn't be disappointed as long as you don't take the lyrics too seriously. They're really the only major fault I could find.