By Andrew Bansal
Throughout their short but illustrious 12-year career so far, progressive metal quintet Between The Buried And Me has made rapid strides as musicians, both collectively and individually. The self-titled full-length debut effort of 2002 got them their initial fan base, and subsequent albums “The Silent Circus” “Alaska”, “Colors” and “The Great Misdirect” kept the fans more than satisfied while gaining new audiences all the time. Not only did they showcase musical creativity through these albums, their on-stage performances proved that they could do justice to the material in the live setting, performing such complex tunes with aplomb. Last year, they released their first ever EP titled “The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues”, and introduced the fans to the concept which is now being presented in detail on its sequel, the sixth full-length album, “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”, coming out on October 9th via Metal Blade Records. If the music on the said EP was anything to go by, the follow-up promised to be a stellar effort, and my goodness, it sure is.
This is not only the longest and most tracked album they’ve ever released, it’s by far their most intense composition, and second to none in terms of its complexity and progressiveness. The massive multi-layered production style is something they’ve employed on past albums too, but this time they’ve taken that aspect of their musicianship to a whole new level. Having co-produced five of the band’s six previous releases, longtime collaborator Jamie King has really brought the best out of the music this time and pushed its farthest limits. The enormity of the sound instantly reminds me of Rush, Dream Theater and Devin Townsend. If you’re a fan of any of these artists and still unfamiliar with Between The Buried And Me, this new album will certainly convert you into a BTBAM fan.
The intro track “Goodbye To Everything” sets the mood and “Astral Body” launches the album into gear. Even though it’s a quintessential BTBAM tune in some ways, it’s a fair indication of the musical advancements made by the band since their previous full-length. Without doubt, there’s lot more of a prog-rock vibe to it. With a five-minute duration, I think it’s perfectly timed, and serves as a great appetizer for the music that follows. This song has already been released by the band in the form of a music video which you can watch below, and if the music alone isn’t already enough, the stunningly trippy visuals pretty much seal the deal and compel the viewer to check out the rest of this album.
BTBAM have always had the deathcore element in their music through the vocals and breakdowns, and fans of that style need not worry because there’s quite a bit of that on here as well. Even though the band has focussed on the prog-rock to a great extent, songs like “Lay Your Ghosts To Rest”, “Extremophile Eilte” and “Telos” prove there’s still plenty in it for those who prefer the ‘extreme’ side of BTBAM’s music. That being said, perhaps with the exception “Astral Body” and “Bloom”, none of the songs on the album really lean towards one particular musical style, and both the prog and extreme sides interact with each other brilliantly, resulting in some of the most dynamic tunes BTBAM have ever come up with.
Along with the lengthy tunes, little interludes like “Autumn”, “Parallax” and “The Black Box” demonstrate the extra-terrestrial sci-fi concept and play an important part in creating and maintaining the spacey atmosphere that befits the story. Quite often in such type of compositions, bands inadvertently end up with a lot of filler material that makes it to the album. Judas Priest’s “Nostradamus” comes to mind. Thankfully that’s not the case with this album, and there’s definitely nothing you’d want to skip over while listening to the whole album.
I would say “Astral Body”, “Telos” and “Bloom” are my favorite tracks as of now, but this is really an album that requires thorough listening from start to finish, for the listener to be able to grasp the essence of the concept and the story. So my list of favorite tracks might well change after a few more listens. Guitarist Paul Waggoner was quoted saying that the band likes to write music that challenges them as well as the listeners, and it holds absolutely true for this album. Due to the length of the album as a whole, and the sheer depth of the music, it will take at least a couple of complete listens before you can properly wrap your head around “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”. The band played the Parallax EP in its entirety on their tours last year, and have plans to play this album also in its entirety on their upcoming shows. With the listening experience as incredible as it already is, I can’t even imagine how amazing the live rendition is going to be.
Overall, Between The Buried And Me have broken new ground and pushed themselves to the most extreme limits with the music they’ve created for this album. It’s a must-have for fans, and a worthwhile release even for those who’ve never heard of BTBAM before. “The Parallax II: Future Sequence” is a Floyd-esque composition, in every sense of the word.
Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: October 9th 2012
1. Goodbye To Everything
2. Astral Body
3. Lay Your Ghosts to Rest
5. Extremophile Elite
7. The Black Box
10. Melting City
11. Silent Flight Parliament
12. Goodbye to Everything Reprise