Review Summary: I can't see, I can't see, I'm going blind
Despite the almost fourteen years and five releases since this North Carolina main-stay released the original work of the same title, Between The Buried and Me have never been too far from public light, but Colours
helped define the very sounds that would launch this little group to relevancy. One quick look at their discography showcases an expansive list and without reading too far into their titles (that’s not what we’re here for today), an otherworldly contextual landscape that may or may not be explored to its fullest capacity, yet Colours II
does its dardenest to fit in with the rest. Colours II
—a peripheral dot in a landscape of prominent guitar melodies and vocal hooks. Moments flash by in their own fashion detached from the wider critical responses (whether positive or negative) they’re likely to garner...but more likely dismiss—Colours II
is meant to be much more than another auditory experience. The second chapter of Between The Buried and Me’s Colours II
is decidedly reminiscent of the first. That was to be expected, but Colours II
is a spectral [heh] analysis of the band itself, and a summary of the group’s detachment from their early days, even if it brings some measure of innovation to their sound. I use that term loosely, for we’ve all heard these features before—albeit in a more traditional, less gimmicked setting.
From here it’s a pretty digestible fact that Between The Buried and Me have always been ambitious. Looking back at their Automata
series, it’s clear that there was a refinement of sound going on. Breakdowns were at an all time low and progressive jaunts were clearly front and centre. For these Carolinians, it was a chance to flex, especially considering both of those records were released in such close proximity. Here, much like the albums before it, BTBAM showed a tendency to move forwards, reinvent and expand on their roots. As we turn our attention back to the present we can expect a similar rate of compositional dexterity. Their take on metalcore’s more progressive climes has tip-toed a balancing act between
compositional wonder stroke and unabridged whimsical left turns that pinch at the ribs, lacking the substance to be anything more. How seriously are we as listeners expected to take new BTBAM music? Are all the twaddle-pops and quirks seriously intended for dramatic effect, or rather an ill-suited attempt to knee-jerk the listener into brand investment? Regardless, there is
value here; fleeting, sporadic, dug out of the recesses of a larger picture—extant like a star on the endless skies of night.
As we explore the beginning focal points of this hour-and-twenty-minute record, Between The Buried and Me’s more ear catching nuances provide instant gratification. “Monochrome’s” lighter keys provide a perfect light and dark dichotomy, a contrast of melody and groove meets the crash and bombast of thick metal riffs. While this sort of contrast is a staple in most music everywhere
, there’s no denying that BTBAM have nailed its use over the course of the last two decades. Longtime front man Tommy Rogers’ vocals provide a dystopian air before the track itself kicks into a combination of gnarly riffs, growls and blast beats providing twists and turns such as the roller-coaster of a track, “The Double Helix of Extinction”. Rogers is on record for saying that Colours II
is a “seamless and chaotic journey”
—and like “The Double Helix of Extinction”, much of the record follows this train of thought. Circling back to the main point of this paragraph however; this album is long
, requiring more focus than a casual listener would normally distribute, but that doesn’t detract from what Colours II
would offer a more enthused, immersed listener. That aside, I do feel as if a more modest run time would increase the overall replay value of BTBAM’s latest musical escapade. At times, the music here is so forward on the mix and ultimately without restraint that it will take multiple listens to absorb.
In discussing the album’s larger ideology, Rogers tackles similar moods to those of the original a whole fourteen years ago
(an impressive feat no matter which way you spin it); dancing between the cyber, retro and space themes that somehow relate to how we’re individually feeling in these often isolating and confusing times, vague references often added from the band’s roster. At face value, separating analysis away from the music itself, Colours II
is a statement piece, larger than itself. Is it a big record? Even the run time says so. The lack of musical restraint confirms it.
Pre-release single “Fix The Error” would set the pace for what was to come. Not only did it feature three drum solos from some of metal’s more prestigious names (including ex-Dream Theater founder Mike Portnoy), the track itself ripped through a circus-led, retro video game, polka setting with zero regard for continuity or aesthetic—but it’s this summation (all within a five minute frame) that fully identifies the wacky/wonderful world in which Colours II
is set. BTBAM’s music would be dense if not varied. Quirks escalate circa “Prehistory” and over the top antics run amuck on what would otherwise be a short and snappy track—and easily trimmed off the entire run-time for a more comprehensive listen. Longer mainstays like “Never Seen / Future Shock” are a metalhead’s dream. Chances are there are albums within this generation doing what the likes of Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer did throughout the nineties and as much as I can applaud the picking up of instruments everywhere
, I can’t help but feel that Colours II
is too much a “wall spaghetti” example, too full on and less expressive than it is gimmick and not at all influential on the point in this sentence.
Rather than go into detail, vivid, agonising detail on just how parts of this record detract from its better moments there is a sweeping, all-encompassing descriptor that sums up how this record makes me feel
. It’s too much. As much as I enjoy the solid starts a la “Monochrome” and “The Double Helix of Extinction” there’s a lot of filler and needless over indulgence in the form of gimmick. “Fix The Error” might be an initial blast, but it’s a jovial setting that just inserts ‘weirdness’ for the sake of it. “Prehistory” has already been cleared for culling, moving Colours II
to a more digestible length. “Bad Habits” may have been the good egg in the dozen, but even as the track launches itself at stardom, the eight minute run towards the album’s climax is marred by the stumble and trip of “Turbulent” and “Sfumato” and as such, the massive “Human Is Hell (Another One With Love)” is somewhat exhaustive, having its energy squandered by the tracks before it.
Readers will disagree. Fans will call out “blasphemy”, but Between The Buried and Me’s latest is so far up the wall (balls n’ all), it’s hard to make out exactly what part of the record you’re listening to. Everything and nothing sticks. Does Colours II
bang? Does it appeal
? The answer is yes, but I’m so numb as every note, riff and vocal stanza floats in one ear and out the other. Trust me, I want to believe. I want to be wrong. I’d love to be caught up in the hype but Colours II
just ain’t it.