Review Summary: Once again Between the Buried and Me provide an auditory experience that will sonically engulf you in a bubble of genre crossing madness and technical wizardry.
I've always been fascinated with this band's ability to seamlessly blend genres, ranging from progressive rock, death metal to jazz, blues, folk and ambient electronica. Their biggest album to date was 2007's epic Colors, where they shrouded their earlier straightforward technical death metal sound with a newfound love of all these other genres. With a definite love for bands like Frank Zappa and Mr. Bungle, it was sure to split fandom. Some fans were upset that they were getting "weirder", but this was what drew me to them. In the current metal climate they're very refreshing, as where most bands try their hardest to be polyrhytmic and technical, they also add in this odd blend of genres to the mix to shake it up a little.
The new EP (though at around the 30 minute mark, and being the first of a 2-parter, this is closer to a mini album really) definitely keeps this going. Last year they released The Great Misdirect, which, while still brilliant and head and shoulders above a lot of the metal community at the moment, it failed to capture me in quite the same way Colors did.
This time they seem to have sparked my love for them again.
From the 11 minute opener "Specular Reflection", they have clearly progressed even more than the last two efforts. It all feels a lot more concentrated, but at the same time, stranger than ever. The musicianship isn't just a case of "look how technical we are, now listen to me widdle for a bit", it's more a case of showing how truly unique they are. Sometimes they have the tendency to just go "here's the death metal bit, now here's the jazz bit, oh now here's a Mike Patton-esque part", but on this EP it all just feels a lot more seamless.
The album goes through the second track, "Augment of Rebirth", where at around the 6:30 mark, they go truly strange. Like a strange blending of polka, Hawaiian guitar and general proggery, it definitely satisfies my need to hear something that is both unique and original, and just asskickingly good. There's plenty of unique music out there, but just because it's unique, doesn't make it any good.
The last track "Lunar Wilderness" really left me with my jaw dropped open. It begins with some really nice, spaced out jazz. The track continues to pleasure me sonically, bringing me to new heights of musical ecstacy. To say that they are the most impressive and innovative band out there at the moment might seem like a stretch, but I'm struggling to think of any other contenders right now.
Vocalist/keyboardist Tommy Rogers continues to impress with both his gruff metal screams and growls and with his really melodic singing (which never ever treads towards the whiney emo sound that a lot of bands seem to adopt these days), whilst guitarists Dusty Waring and Paul Waggoner take us on a journey through some mighty metal riffs and clean passages, bassist Dan Briggs avoids constantly playing root notes and instead provides some unique tunes of his own to accompany the rest of the band and drummer Blake Richardson hammers away at his kit without the need for constant blast beats or double kick rhythms. A band who truly fit together like pieces of a very intricate puzzle, all complimenting each other without ever being overbearing or pretentious.
As this is only the first half of the album, with the other half scheduled for release later this year, this is really technically only a half complete review. But for what it's worth, go check out this new EP/LP/album/mini album/whatever you want to call it. If you like any of the genres I listed at the start of this review (even if it literally is just ONE of those genres), you will be in for a treat with this. Whether you're a newcomer to the band (in which case I would highly recommend the albums Colors, The Great Misdirect and though closer to a death metally sound, Alaska after listening to this) or a hardcore fan (in which case if you were pleased with the last 3 albums, you'll highly enjoy this), The Parallax: Hypersleep DIalogues is surely a record that deserves its place in any music lover's collection.