BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME
Where Rhapsody of Fire claim to make "film score metal" then compared against the latest conceptual opus from Between the Buried and Me, the Italians are something akin to a Hollywood blockbuster; BTBAM, on the other hand, are the sonic equivalent of David Lynch. For here we have the second instalment of their two-part concept that commenced on last year's half hour long EP, 'The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues'. Entitled 'The Parallax II: Future Sequence', it continues, widens and concludes the narrative from the EP with a suite of music that's as ambitious as the lyrical concepts and story that unfolds. And, I would argue, their most ambitious, technically accomplished and musically diverse work to date. It's flawless, epic and wildly innovative with a scarily natural flow to its changing moods and stylistic diversity. For a band to punctuate its metal underpinnings and ambient prog aesthetic with a whole load of musical deviations with the inherent ease of compositional contiguity in the way that BTBAM do is simply breathtaking and secures their place as genuinely progressive hegemonists.
To label BTBAM as simply prog-metal would do them an injustice due to the overuse (and misappropriation) of a generic label that's become, all too often, just that - a genre. 'Progressive' was originally coined as a descriptive word to label bands who were actually progressing something with their music - imitation of progressive bands is not being progressive. It's a paradox if you will. BTBAM - and 'The Parallax II' is set to consolidate this assertion even more - embrace what it is to be truly progressive. The tracks that constitute this release are everything a genuinely progressive band should be - musically innovative, melodically and structurally epic and some aptly posited virtuosity where the high-level musicianship is utilised in a context befitting of the music than just for the sake of technicality. Oh yes indeed, they're also progressive in the sense they've pushed themselves forward with their musical abilities with some playing that is absolutely astonishing.
There are sporadic nods towards the EP, most overtly on 'Extremophile Elite' where a passage of music makes a return from '...Hypersleep Dialogues'. In this sense, the EP and album feel like companion pieces and part of the same concept. They've also married music with concept so the lyrics and sonics mutually reflect each other. This is no concept album for the sake of being a concept album. Bands who claim to make such but continue to write music in their established style lean towards the side of pretension by labelling their work "a concept album". This is not at all the case with BTBAM for the American innovators aren't afraid to dip in and out of all manner of disparate styles... whatever best reflects the mood, atmosphere, and tenets of the narrative. Without paying any attention to the lyrics (without a lyric sheet to hand, only Tommy Rogers' clean vocals are decipherable anyway), it really feels as if a story is being told through the music itself, such is its well-structured narrative essence.
Aside from the more ambient music and whole gamut of varying styles, some of the heavy passages are full-on heavy - we're talking cacophonic extremity here - and thus the album won't be to everyone's taste... or, rather parts of the album won't be, although it'll test your mettle as a fan of genuinely progressive music. BTBAM will push your listening sensibilities to their very limit. How can you resist such a challenge? 'The Parallax II: Future Sequence' is awesome in every single way an album can be awesome. And I feel I must add that BTBAM are the genuine deal - they can pull all this off live, seemingly effortlessly. A definite contender for album of the year.
THE PARALLAX II: FUTURE SEQUENCE
Review by Mark Holmes
9th Oct 2012
1) Goodbye to Everything
2) Astral Body
3) Lay Your Ghosts to Rest
4) Autumn; 5) Extremophile Elite
7) The Black Box
10) Melting City
11) Silent Flight Parliament
12) Goodbye to Everything Reprise
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"For a band to punctuate its metal underpinnings and ambient prog aesthetic with a whole load of musical deviations with the inherent ease of compositional contiguity in the way that BTBAM do is simply breathtaking and secures their place as genuinely progressive hegemonists."