Review Summary: Frustratingly inconsistent, this album has it's good moments. Yet it also has an extremely high number horrendous refrains, far too many for an album labelled as 'excellent.'
Nearly every single member of the metal community has heard of the name 'Between the Buried and Me.' Their music is very likable, with its 'I Don't Give a Fuck,' attitude, and the obvious aptitude for each individual band member and their respective instruments. Yet in this day and age, one cannot be critically acclaimed simply from sheer potential, they must be also able to execute their plans, whilst
integrating their skill. According to many music elitists BtBaM do exactly that, yet, even though opinions are opinions, this album (and it's descendants) really aren't as cracked out as they're made to be.
Firstly, Alaska does have some silver linings shining through its deep, dark clouds. For brief, yet extremely pleasing periods of time, BtBaM lay down vicious melodies that really help them elate tracks from being utter nonsense to satisfying. For example, the introduction to the title-track ‘Alaska,’ contains one of the bands best moments, where everything seems to click. That track is also one of the prominent showcases for their metal-core influences, whilst the subsequent song portrays more of a new-wave death metal style of playing, yet genres are a very flexible and debatable topic. Where BtBaM decide to slow things down and take an educated break from the assault on everyone’s ears, they do it with style and success, as shown in ‘Selkies: The Endless Obsession’ and ‘Backwards Marathon.’
The utter talent that each band member entails is inescapable; ignoring it is similar to disregarding the piano as being ‘not-metal enough’ when it is actually the base of everything else. This analogy is a fairly fitting way to describe what this album was intended
to be – start out with what you know and then branch off every now and then. Yet frequently BtBaM go a bit over-the-top in their song-writing efforts, so much so that it can be quite disorientating. Too many things occur at once, confusing many listeners into questioning ‘Wait, what is going on here".’ Certain parts of ‘Autodidact’ invoke this response, one that not only surfaces doubt, but lack of interest. It is in the human nature to dislike chaos, to detest things that are shoved right in their faces. At times Between the Buried and Me take their concepts too far, which can summon certain negative feelings towards the album.
The record, luckily, does not drag on for far too long. Yet the fifty-four minutes of inconsistency is quite irritating, and at times a bore. The track ‘Roboturner’ is a perfect example of time wasted. For 7 minutes one is subjected to having to listen to this track, whilst it does nothing exciting whatsoever, seemingly repeating the same style of riff combined with same sluggish vocals. It just chugs along blandly for a period of time that is far too long. While some may enjoy the endless monotony of certain songs (the vocals, which don't seem to stray away from the same tone Rogers applies, or the bass which is rarely heard at all) – or more appropriately – areas of songs, the majority of society doesn’t have it in their hearts to continue to listen to something that is such an excruciatingly unreliable listen.
The screamed vocals, quite frankly, are awful. Many claim that it is an acquired taste, yet it would be a hard battle to win to say that the majority of his screams on this release, and more specifically the track, ‘The Primer,’ are sublime. At times, Rogers does excel in what he is trying to achieve, yet it is a far too common occurrence for his rather grating growls to incline in quality and power. The brutal roar he is attempting to mirror can be rather distasteful and plain, almost similar to eating bread without the butter. The extra step, (or topping) is habitually hiding itself in many songs off Alaska. The beginning of ‘Autodidact,’ contains a fairly solid, energetic performance (although by no means great). Hitherto by the first change of pace Rogers singing takes a jarring turn for the droning worse, providing many listeners with nothing other than the thought ‘please get me out of here!’
This album could’ve been great.
That’s the worst part.