Review Summary: Redemption.
Change. This is one thing that progressive metal act, Between the Buried and Me, are extremely accustomed to. From their self-titled deathcore tinged debut to their sprawling supposed realised ‘masterpiece’, Colors
, the band has always strived to transform from record to record. However, this has not always paid dividends in this reviewer’s eyes. 2012’s warped, extensive and downright audacious effort, Parallax II
, displayed BTBAM revealing their proverbial hand and throwing all of their chips onto the table. Whilst the record certainly displayed an amazing example of technical musicianship, the song writing suffered immensely. Jarring transitions, sloppy craft and somewhat ostentatiously forced ‘progressive’ elements resulted in one of the bands most frustrated efforts yet.
feels like a clean slate for the group. Parallax II
certainly hurled all it could muster towards the listener, however this time around things are slightly more subtle. Coma
opens with the immensely intimate number, ‘Node’. Vocalist, Tommy Rogers, displays his vocal talents superbly on this number, pursuing a more delicate tenor when compared to prior vocal outings. The result pays dividends, with the track not only becoming immediately memorable but a fine example of the bands almost chameleon like song writing tendencies. Nevertheless, it is not until track 2, ‘The Coma Machine’, that we truly see the outfit’s immense capabilities. Winding in and out of groovy time signatures and constantly building upon the songs ethereal intro, BTBAM manage to justify their daring musical flair, promptly making up for any mistakes that were made on their previous effort.
Although the record starts off strong, the glaring errors from across the acts musical catalogue come back to haunt them. Even though these errors are not as obvious as previous records, the damage done is still noticeable. Some tracks like ‘Memory Palace’ and ‘The Ectopic Stroll’ struggle to form much coherence throughout their respective runtimes. Both numbers seem to come and go without leaving any real impact, albeit remaining fairly inoffensive. The constant influence of 70’s-80’s progressive rock throughout these tracks leave them feeling rather mundane, without the unique flavour the band is fully capable of being injected. In regards to the aforementioned progressive rock influences, Coma
definitely makes this direction obvious all over its 11 tracks. Most of this influence is tastefully implemented, with ‘Dim Ignition’ being a fine example. Catchy synth lines and an otherworldly atmosphere coupled with Tommy’s vocoder esque vocals make for a fine showcase of the bands vast musical influences coming to fruition.
‘King Redeem/Queen Serene’ also follows in this fashion. Lead guitarist, Paul Waggoner, displays expert precision in particular throughout the track. Integrated with Blake Richardson’s persistently fascinating drumming style, the track shows BTBAM effortlessly navigating through a woven web of bright guitar riffs and ever-changing tempo changes brilliantly. Furthermore, Tommy feels like the focal point of this constant need for variety. It’s an extremely demanding task for Rogers to keep these songs engaging throughout, a task that proves too difficult ultimately towards the end of the records runtime. Most of Coma
’s entertainment takes shape through the ambitious instrumentation displayed by the ensemble. As mentioned previously, this can hinder the record on a couple of tracks here and there but, overall, there is a certain amount of maturity displayed.
Despite some setbacks, Coma Machine
is definitely a step in the right direction for BTBAM. Although the band is yet to paper over their sporadic, grating tendencies, the album still manages to push through. With a new album just over the horizon, it seems the group will only continue in the same vein of experimentation they’ve displayed throughout their career. One can only hope the mistakes will be realised, with the zany experimentation culminating in a consistent effort. Meanwhile, Coma
stands as a bright beacon for the outfit, a foundation to build upon moving forward into the future.