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The stagnant genre of "progressive". Rather, stagnant it has become through decades of pastiche and general mimicry. "Regressive" is a more pertinent label for the plethora of bands who believe themselves to be, and are labelled as such by insular-minded critics, "progressive". But here we have Between the Buried and Mes latest, and their first since signing to Metal Blade, which epitomises everything a progressive album in the twenty first century should be ie. actually progressive. I say "album" as the press sheet refers to it as such but with a playing time of just half an hour spread over three tracks, many would prefer to call this a mini-album or lengthy EP. Anyway, format semantics aside, the thirty minutes of music on offer is rather incredible and provides an intense sonic experience that seems to be over in a flash but will have you pressing play again right after the final bar of the third song in an attempt to try and digest the heterogeneously complex soundscape BTBAM have created a little bit more. And that's one reason why this will not appeal to the casual rock/metal/prog fan, for 'The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues' is a challenging listen and one that stimulates not just the emotions but also the mind. I've always found the term "thinking man's metal", appropriated over the years by various critics, to be something of a redundant one as we all think, right, just to varying levels of profundity. However, there is a clear difference between metal fans who want a quick 'hit' of accessibility through unchallenging, formulaic music and those who desire a greater level of cognitive stimulation. If you fall into the latter category then 'The Parallax...' will most definitely fulfil that need. Further, beyond bands that distance the listener through experimentation and wild innovation, perhaps deliberately in some cases, BTBAM have succeeded in writing three songs that evade such trappings. Rather, it is easy to become drawn into the music despite all the cacophonously technical twists and turns at work. That's one reason why the half an hour playing time seems to pass by relatively quickly. First track 'Specular Reflection' opens in melodramatic fashion with an orchestral/choir passage, almost movie score in essence, which is apposite in priming the 'story' that follows, for this is a concept piece about two characters existing in a different space and time. In fact, it's the first instalment of a two album concept with a lengthier follow-up due towards the end of the year or the start of 2012. And after the instrumental intro, BTBAM hit you with full-on metal intensity as the track's 11+ minute duration skillfully weaves between the heavy and the mellow, combining a multitude of disparate styles but maintaining a fluency and great flow to the whole thing. Frontman Tommy Rogers alternates between a growled and clean delivery to emphasise the music's varying moods, while each of the band's musicians showcase both their technical skills and a sense of restraint at all the right moments. This is true of all three songs. Second track, 'Augment of Rebirth', commences with some truly breath-taking guitar arpeggios in a composition that moves into Ihsahn/Emperor-esque territory for a brief passage as well as a whole gamut of unexpected musical divergences. Third track, 'Lunar Wilderness', opens with a mellow clean-guitar intro coloured with some beautifully played fretless bass before the heaviness builds up in a Cynic-inspired progression and other incongruent styles that, somehow, BTBAM manage to combine as if they are in no small way incongruous. In short, if you like to be challenged by your metal, or music in general, yet within the context of some virtuously executed, cohesively fluent song structures, then now's the time to check out Between the Buried and Me. Already a fan of BTBAM? You'll be equally blown the fuck away by 'The Parallax...'.
Metal Blade
Review by Mark Holmes
11th April 2011
1) Specular Reflection
2) Augment of Rebirth
3) Lunar Wildness
"...if you like to be challenged by your metal, or music in general, yet within the context of some virtuously executed, cohesively fluent song structures, then now's the time to check out Between the Buried and Me."