Between The Buried And Me

The Great Misdirect

Written by: NB on 11/08/2010 19:08:17

You may have noticed that this album came out rather a while ago, last October actually. Originally to be reviewed AP, it got foisted on me some time in February. Months went by and the longer it became the more insightful and brilliant the review would have to be to justify its own existence. PP got on my case and I pointed out that the longer I left the review the better it would inevitably become and alerted him to the prospect that, if I never wrote it, it would therefore be infinitely good. Unfortunately, PP isn’t a man of science and was not sold on my infallible logic, therefore you have him to blame for this disparate collection of ideas. But hey, at least I haven’t wasted a hundred words on some irrelevant ramble...

I have a feeling that Between the Buried and Me is a very important band. It doesn’t embark on huge headline tours, it doesn’t leave a mark in the social consciousness and it doesn’t even seem to have a meaningful influence inside its genre. However, to me, it’s one of the few bands doing something worthwhile; these guys are creating something new. Back in 2002 they were doing things in the genre of metalcore which may seem tired and overused today but at the time were relatively fresh. With their second release, "The Silent Circus", and the subsequent masterpiece, "Alaska", the progressive element of their sound came to the fore and the band established a new style: an arpeggiated, effortlessly-technical blend of serenity and savagery. Their last album, "Colors", took this to new heights, and was undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of the decade. So, given their history, it worries me slightly that their latest release "The Great Misdirect" doesn’t seem to have pushed many boundaries.

The band claimed that they had wanted to out-do "Colors", describing one part of their new album as containing "a noisy Coalesce breakdown, 3/4 Mastodon groove, 9/8 Mars Volta, a Queen chromatic build up and Megadeth chorus". What I hear is more of the same mad timing they normally bring us, more bluesy, self-indulgent solos that BTBAM seem to be able to do without once sounding cheesy and more of their death metal filler. The measures of death metal are still the weakest parts of the songs. Not because they are boring or bad in particular but because like other death metal bands they aren’t all that different from each other and style-wise are pretty much stuck in a rut. These do, however, provide a nice foil for the melodic sections. When a chaotic piece of death metal gives way to a violent melodic rhythm and then finally into a soft chorus it emphasises the effect of the "better" parts of the song.

The album has moved on from the previous releases in some small ways. Whilst the techniques haven’t particularly changed this record has introduced new sounds such as the chirpy, honky-tonk sound at the beginning of "Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain" and the surprisingly mainstream vocals and composition of "Desert of Song". The Great Misdirect also has a new structure. Its organisation is even more unusual than that of Colors. In fact, to the casual listener it might seem that the album is entirely unstructured. However, there is reason to their madness. It’s not clear to me what this reason is, but the fact that "Disease, Injury and Madness" has been assembled into one track, when it would appear to be two separate songs, suggests that rather than separating the passages by riffs and musical style like most artists would they have separated them by their message or theme. A great deal of thought has clearly gone into the album’s chaotic structure. Personally I found the more logical structure of the last album to be slightly easier to cope with but I will leave that judgement to the listener.

Ultimately, in my opinion at least, great albums tend to fall into two categories. One is where every song is a masterpiece so that they all coalesce into a perfect whole and no individual track stands above the others. The other type - arguably even better - has only one song, one section, or just a couple of seconds of pure genius which lifts the rest of the album out of mediocrity and which you can’t help but replay over and over until you are sick of it. It probably represents the sole reason why you might call yourself a fan of the respective artist. I can say with certainty that "Colors" was the former and "Alaska" the latter ("Selkies" being its diamond in the, already excellent, rough). "The Great Misdirect" on the other hand falls between these categories. Although I would say that "Obfuscation" is the standout song, it doesn’t recapture the unparalleled brilliance of "Selkies", and as a whole the record just doesn’t match the cohesion of "Colors".

I have obviously been unduly harsh due to my high expectations; this album was always going to soar. I feel obliged to recap on what BTBAM have been doing and continue to do so well on this release. Once again we bear helpless witness to passages of sheer beauty and wholly original riffs. You sometimes wish these would last just a little longer before the music lapses back into chaos. But BTBAM’s music is an ever changing torrent and thrives on unpredictability. If only this were reflected just a tiny bit more in the current direction of the bands discography.


Download: Obfuscation, Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain
For the fans of: Protest the Hero, The Arusha Accord, Carnival in Coal, Mastodon
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.10.2009

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