Between the Buried and Me – “The Parallax II: Future Sequence” Review
I am convinced that UPS has to have two drivers deliver Between the Buried and Me albums to my front door. As a group, BTBAM have been the most technical and unusual progressive metal band I have heard. They have the ability to go from intense breakdowns, to light jazz, to banjo solos with seemingly little effort. I still regard “Colors” as their best work, due to the overwhelming progressions within each song. Yet, the follow-up to that album, “The Great Misdirect”, felt like a step backward after such a masterpiece. Now, having entered into Part II of “The Parallax” (I have yet to hear Part I, and for that I apologize), in what direction is BTBAM going?
In comes “Goodbye to Everything” to pave the way for the first full track, “Astral Body”. Here, we have a feel for where the album is heading. The track opens with some nice guitar work (what else would you expect from Paul Waggoner), and throughout the song, Tom lets loose with his voice, ranging from deep growls to some nicely sung vocal work. In fact, throughout the album, Tom sings as much as he growls – a very nice change to the group that is well-known for undeniably heavy breakdowns. I never minded those heavy sections, but there came times where they lost their potency with constant thrashing. This album takes a much more progressive approach (yes, as unusual as it may be to be “more” progressive than say, “Colors”), and largely succeeds.
“Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” is the perfect example of the new directions for the group, and the finest track on an album of fine tracks. The song opens with a bang (get your back brace ready). This is quickly followed by a sudden transition into a bouncy riff with some circus-y lead guitar; the part just must be heard (when I first listened to the song, I quite literally said “what just happened?” and had to rewind the song to make sure I heard it right). The song continues with phenomenal lead guitar work by Paul, the usual riffage, and interspersed jazzy and experimental sections. Truly, this song is perfect.
The next major track comes in the form of “Extremophile Elite”. Only two words to describe why you should hear this song (outside of the usual BTBAM staples) – XYLOPHONE SOLO! Yes, that happened. And it was glorious. Continuing on, we have “Parallax” and “Black Box”, which together lead into “Telos”. Face-melting up front, and followed by an experimental spacey, jazzy interlude.
“Bloom” opens with one of the most unusual breakdowns I’ve heard and is followed by the beast that is “Melting City”, featuring another lighter interlude featuring an overlapping guitar lead and flute lead. Overall, this song is more of a jam-band feeling track intertwined with some heavier sections, traits that by no means make this a bad song.
We end the album with two tracks. One a 15-minute mammoth (“Silent Flight Parliament”), opening with some heavy riffing and developing into a whirlwind of shifting time-signatures and levels of intensity. “Goodbye to Everything Reprise” wraps everything up with another beautiful solo by Waggoner (seriously, I’d give [insert non-vital body part here] to play like this guy).
As a whole, the album is the finest work to be released by BTBAM. It is a technically proficient masterpiece that sees that band reach a pinnacle of songwriting and progression. The group’s ability to easily transition between sections with stark contrasts and combine various musical styles in each track is incredible. They will remain the most forward-thinking group in progressive metal (and dare I say progressive rock in general). To any fan of metal music, and anyone who appreciates exceptional musical talent, I highly recommend this album. Just remember – lift with your legs, not your back.
Final Score – 9.5/10