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Ultimate BTBAM Ranking

Here's one for the history books: the ultimate BTBAM ranking. Opinions that suggest alternatives to this ordering will be viciously mocked at best, because they're totally false, and are a demonstration of your inferior tastes. In all seriousness, the release of Colors II inspired me to revisit the discography over the last week, and I wanted to make a nostalgic love-letter to the band. Parallax II and Coma Ecliptic fanboys might not be happy with the ordering, but hopefully this list generates some discussion about the discography as a whole.
1Between the Buried and Me
Colors II

Colors II is the perfect embodiment of the band's discography, encapsulating most of their history into an epic, bold, and virtuosic journey. Not only is the album packed with compositional and thematic odes to the original Colors that flawlessly interconnect with new ideas spanning more genres and subgenres than I could succinctly list, but the band manages to combine the finesse, campiness, and grandiosity that they've progressively developed and refined over their last four LPs into their most coherent and enjoyable set of songs thus far, showcasing everything that I've grown to love about BTBAM over the last 13 years. This record doesn't merely do Colors justice; it surpasses it, setting a new baseline for what progressive metal should aspire toward moving onward into the 2020s. This record is the ultimate gesture of fan service too, which means a lot to many of the band's long-time followers (myself included) who've been hoping for a return to the form of the band's sound from....
2Between the Buried and Me
Colors II

[...] the turn of the last decade, after largely abandoning it in favor of a more adventurous, "traditional" prog-rock direction beginning with Coma Ecliptic. (5/5)
3Between the Buried and Me
Colors [2020 Remix / Remaster]

I had just started high school back in 2008, and I was an insufferably elitist death metal kid who refused to listen to anything with breakdowns on the grounds that it didn't riff and wasn't trve enough. An older guy whom I met in marching band (who eventually grew to become one of my best friends) introduced me to this album after he saw me wear an Opeth shirt, rightfully assuming that I might appreciate it. It took a while to overcome my stubbornness in respect to giving it a chance, but once I heard Ants of the Sky, I was absolutely hooked, and I'll never forget the unrivaled sense of joy and awe that I experienced listening to the full album for the first time, which genuinely felt as if I was being introduced to a completely different world both musically and literally. I would never pretend as if I (or anyone for that matter) could approach an artistic product that maintains this degree of personal nostalgia objectively, so for the sake of brevity....
4Between the Buried and Me
Colors [2020 Remix / Remaster]

[...] I'll state the obvious: it's a classic, and the archetypal modern progressive metal record (for better or worse, depending on one's perspective). I also immensely appreciate how my friend and this record helped shatter the death metal elitism of my early adolescence, opening the door to many classic metalcore records that I love and cherish to this day. (5/5)
5Between the Buried and Me
The Great Misdirect (Remastered)

Given that this was my first BTBAM album to get excited about after discovering the band, to say that my hype for it was immense would be the understatement of a lifetime. An advantage that this record has over Colors and most of the albums that followed it, was that it wasn't a concept album. Each of the songs brilliantly stand on their own independent of the broader context of the record, and in hindsight, it serves as a flawless bridge between Colors and the Parallax releases, retaining most of the band's penchant for aggression while inching toward the theatrics and Dream Theater-esque degree of spectacle in relation to composition that they'd embrace later on. The Great Misdirect is another flawless album, it's the album that I've probably listened to the most out of their discography, and I effectively hold it and Colors to equal measure. An honorable mention to Swim to the Moon as well, as it's my favorite of the band's closing tracks. (5/5)
6Between the Buried and Me
The Silent Circus

I adore this album, and I am happy that I first listened to it earlier on in the band's career, as I could easily understand why fans of the band's most recent output might not enjoy and appreciate it as much. The Silent Circus and the Self-Titled album definitely sound and feel as if they come from a different band at times, which is not entirely unjustified given the fact that three of the five members quit the band following its release. The album is firmly rooted in the band's hardcore roots, but the dynamic that they achieved between its sheer aggression and its more delicate, atmospheric elements went on to define the band for many years to come. Mordecai and Ad a Dglgmut are the obvious highlights, but the rest of the album is just as brilliant. While I prefer Blake Richardson's drumming overall, Mark Castillo is no slouch, and his distinctive style suits these songs perfectly. While I wouldn't consider this to be a classic BTBAM album, it's certainly....
7Between the Buried and Me
The Silent Circus

[...] one of the best metalcore/mathcore records from the early 2000s, and it's a crying shame that the band rarely revisits this era of their discography in live settings. Thankfully, the aforementioned standouts are featured on the Colors live DVD at least. I'll also note that this is the only instance in which I prefer the original release over the 2020 remixes/remasters. The drums are suffocated in the update, and given how much of a highlight Castillo is, I'll probably always listen to the original. (4.5/5)
8Between the Buried and Me
Alaska (2020 Remix / Remaster)

While most of Alaska's material seems to have been penned before Dustie Waring, Blake Richardson, and Dan Briggs joined the band, this album marks the beginning of a new era that BTBAM follows into the rest of their discography, redefining progressive metal in the process. Out of all of their work with the current lineup, Alaska features the most direct hardcore influence, with all of the album's highlights featuring some of the most intense breakdowns in their discography and the genre as a whole. It's one of their strongest and most anthemic records, with songs like Selkies, Alaska, Backwards Marathon, and The Primer remaining some of my favorites in their discography. My only critique of the album concerns filler tracks. Songs like Croakies and Boatshoes and Autodidact have never stuck with me as much as the highlights, which can't be said of the albums that beat Alaska in this ranking. I also want to mention to the remix/remaster from last year, which had been the subject....
9Between the Buried and Me
Alaska (2020 Remix / Remaster)

[...] of relentless pleas from fans for a decade and a half. It's fantastic and has become my default means of enjoying these songs. (4.5/5)
10Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

I absolutely loved the Parallax EP upon release, because it felt like a natural progression from The Great Misdirect, and its shorter length made it fitting for repeated listens without the substantial time investment that most of their LPs demand. Specular Reflection is still one of my favorite BTBAM tracks, and the quality of Augment of Rebirth and Lunar Wilderness make it a personal highlight in the band's discography. (4.5/5)
11Between the Buried and Me
Between the Buried and Me (Remix / Remastered)

My rose-tinted spectacles are showing with one, but I embrace it. I'll be the first person to admit that this album is spotty as hell in terms of consistency and quality, and it pales in comparison to the band's following output. Nonetheless, BTBAM's debut is simply a fun album; no more and no less. I was lucky enough to see More of Myself to Kill live a few years ago and given that it has always been a personal favorite that I had assumed the band had consigned to the dustbin of history, I don't think that I've ever been more ecstatic at a show than I had been at that very moment. The polish and virtuosity that's omnipresent on the later records is totally absent here, yet I've long felt that it has more heart and earnestness. Admittedly, part of that could boil down to this not being a concept record, but I always get the sense that the band was firing on all cylinders, was hungry to make a name for themselves in the hardcore scene and wanted to offer something....
12Between the Buried and Me
Between the Buried and Me (Remix / Remastered)

[...] different by blending together elements from metalcore, indie-rock, and 90s alternative rock that would have likely been seen by many within the scene as being irreconcilable back in 2002. I love this album to death in spite of its shortcomings, and it's a perfect reminder that any ranking of this ilk would be difficult if not impossible to divorce from one's own nostalgia, and personal connection with the material. (4/5)
13Between the Buried and Me
Automata II

As a disclaimer, I've not listened to the Automatica records that much since 2018, and only recently revisited them after Colors II. Consequentially, I'm grouping them both under this entry, as I find II to be the most enjoyable of the two. After being let down by Coma Ecliptic in 2015, I was anxious to see how the band followed it up and saw these albums as being a partial return to form. I say partial, because I find I to be solid at best, with the only major standout being Condemned to the Gallows. I feels like BTBAM by the by the numbers, though II is thankfully more adventurous, more memorable, and embraces the campier elements of their sound in a manner that is more appealing than anything off of Coma Ecliptic and PII. Voice of Trespass is my personal favorite, but the remaining songs are all great tracks. (AI=3.5/5: AII=4/5)
14Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence

While PII is one of the most ambitious albums in BTBAM's discography in terms of scope, it's one of their least focused, exchanging memorability for theatrics, virtuosity, and gimmicks. CII is a minute short of being 80 minutes, yet most of the record managed to leave an immediate impression after the first listen, to the extent that I could have hummed vocal parts, riffs, and synth lines afterward before revisiting it. After 9 years of repeated listens, the same unfortunately can't be said of most of this album's songs. It's certainly not a bad album, I respect its vision and content, and I enjoy much of the latter half of the album, but its entirety is arguably something of a caricature of what progressive metal can be if its vision doesn't maintain songwriting that's up to par. In the album's defense, I will say that I do enjoy the performance from the live DVD, though that probably has more to do with appreciating the instrumentation come to life over the material itself. (3/5)
15Between the Buried and Me
Coma Ecliptic

Coma Ecliptic is the black sheep of the BTBAM discography, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's heard it why it's so divisive. Many see this album as being a progression from Parallax II, but unfortunately, I find it to be thoroughly boring and passionless. Nothing has ever gripped me or kept me engaged from this record after years of giving it numerous spins, and while there is a chance that the live DVD could change that, there's honestly nothing from the tracklist that would compel me to justify the purchase. It's not a horrible album on the merit of how strong the instrumentation is, and I can see how the "streamlined" approach to many of the songs' structures would have wider appeal than much of the band's more esoteric outings, but I've come to accept that it's simply not for me. (2.5/5)
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