Between the Buried and Me
Automata I


4.0
excellent

Review

by Insurrection CONTRIBUTOR (113 Reviews)
March 10th, 2018 | 720 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Stylistically polished and musically fresh, Automata I is yet another winner from Between the Buried and Me.

It’s interesting to hear a band like Between the Buried and Me eight albums into their career. Not only are they supremely talented at their craft and continuously challenging genre boundaries with each subsequent album, but they’re also experienced enough as musicians to learn from their mistakes. Their sound – essentially melding every style of music known to man – has matured nicely since Colors, and oddly enough, not much has changed. Sure, there are no more jarring polka transitions or meandering blues jams, but the eclectic metalcore and ‘70s prog influence remain as their sonic foundation. BtBaM have been around the block a few times by now, so to speak, and this sounds like them finally settling down into a cozy, psychedelic studio apartment.

Everything that was wrong with Coma Ecliptic has been righted on Automata I. At a mere 35 minutes, it’s an easily digestible listen and never has the chance to get boring. The bass is raised in the mix, the song lengths are shorter, the riffs are crunchier, the grooves are tighter, and the vocals are more dynamic. Make no mistake: the band still hops through various key signatures and time signatures like they’re sampling flavors of ice cream, but now it feels like there’s a purpose to it. Themes are introduced, developed, and resolved over the course of the album; subtle motifs are revisited and expounded on, rewarding multiple listens. The song structures aren’t nearly as scatterbrained as they used to be, while still keeping things moving enough to appeal to fans of the band’s A.D.D. songwriting approach.

The most drastic improvement from previous releases is the utilization of frontman Tommy Rogers. His synth work, which was front and center on Coma Ecliptic, has been tastefully subdued in favor of vocal variety. Automata I features far and away Rogers’ most versatile vocal performance since 2005’s Alaska. He uses his signature mid-range screams and tender crooning, in addition to howling falsetto jabs, guttural growls, and half-yelled, effects-laden passages that help ease the transitions from his harsh to clean vocals and vice versa. These varying styles are often layered on top of each other for dramatic flair without coming across as too cluttered or flamboyant. “Yellow Eyes” is the best example of this, musically ranging from Devin Townsend worship to mellow jazz fusion to syncopated death metal riffage with Tommy’s vocals seamlessly morphing into whatever best suits the song. The melodies themselves are on point as well, most notably during the ethereal 5/4 groove in “Millions” and the gleefully euphoric chorus of “Blot”.

Rhythmically, the band has never sounded tighter. They’ve come a long way from throwing random ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. Mind you, these haphazard tendencies do rear their ugly head from time to time. A number of riffs are purely transitional and unable to function as enjoyable standalone sections, and some off-kilter vocal melodies may leave you scratching your head. Also, the album just… ends. It’s reasonable to assume that the final seconds of “Blot” lead into whatever opens Part II, but as it is, it’s an abrupt and anticlimactic finish to an otherwise engrossing and epic track.

Nevertheless, Automata I is a step in the right direction for BtBaM. It sits in the much-revered sweet spot bridging their flowery progressive antics and technical metalcore roots with no shortage of fresh, new musical ideas. As far as modern prog metal goes, Automata I is a healthy reminder why BtBaM is head and shoulders above most of the competition. Part II can’t come soon enough.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


24637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tried to keep it as unbiased as possible but who am i kidding, this was a pleasant surprise



Yellow Eyes - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_bJ3HPabzo



Millions - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fye2KREpeJQ



Blot - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb-wl5E8PH8

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Doctuses
March 9th 2018


1840 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

definitely disagree but nice review.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


9067 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not feeling it brother Ins

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


24637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea i have a feeling this will be pretty divisive. then again, it is btbam

KILL
March 9th 2018


81232 Comments


good to see you havent changed bro

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


24637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol missed u kill

trilogique21
March 9th 2018


2120 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nice review

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2018


9067 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hey look it’s Kill! Wasn’t Sowing looking for him?

Darius the Great
March 9th 2018


18398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Listening to this beast rn m/

ExhaleTheLight
March 10th 2018


811 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yellow Eyes is the best track. Fight me

Darius the Great
March 10th 2018


18398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The break in Yellow Eyes is a top tier moment

Darius the Great
March 10th 2018


18398 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah this rules as expected. Between The Buried And Me still kicking ass and taking names

In other news, water is wet

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2018


9067 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I do like Yellow Eyes, saves this from being a complete flop.

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
March 10th 2018


2571 Comments


"The song structures aren’t nearly as scatterbrained as they used to be, while still keeping things moving enough to appeal to fans of the band’s A.D.D. songwriting approach."
Might have to give this one a spin, then. Sweet review, silly band.

BlackwaterPork
March 10th 2018


4316 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is probably one of my favourite records of theirs tbh

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Groundking
March 10th 2018


818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Such a strong return to form. Good review

Digging: The Lucid Dream - Actualisation

pxl
March 10th 2018


32 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Also quite underwhelmed by it after listening for maybe 10 times. That "yellow YELLOW YELLOOOOOW" gets annoying pretty quick.

TundraL5Z
March 10th 2018


1942 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

My man Insurrection back with another BtBaM review, and another great write up at that, think hardcore fans will be a little disappointed with the record but at the same time it offers a great starting point for new fans, if they want to get into the band

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

DoofusWainwright
March 10th 2018


20001 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

This is my album of the decade so far actually

Assemblage
March 10th 2018


593 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review, but this release didn't do much for me unfortunately. Came here to say what pxl did about Yellow Eyes... Might even put this at a 2.5 since I see it only as a slight improvement over Coma and their progression has been a little too predictable as of now. I still am looking forward to Automata II, however. Been wanting a BTBAM album to open with a cruncy bass solo for the longest time so maybe then lol



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