Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Between The Buried And Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Written by: PP on 16/10/2012 15:06:54
It's mind baffling to realize that Between The Buried And Me aren't already considered the greatest progressive metal band of our generation. With a slew of consistent, at times mind-blowing releases behind their back, surely "The Parallax II: Future Sequence" is the final piece of the puzzle that should elevate Between The Buried And Me above mainstays such as Opeth in terms of song complexity, instrumental prowess, artistic ambition, and ability to awe-inspire their listener in ways you didn't think were possible. What other band is there that consistently pushes the envelope of the genre and provides us new looks and takes on how the genre can sound, while incorporating influences from all the progressive rock greats into the mix ranging from Pink Floyd to Deep Purple?
"The Parallax II: Future Sequence" is a continuation to "The Parallax: Hyperspeed Dialogues" EP from last year. It was originally meant to be an EP but the band found their creative juices flowing stronger than ever, and just one year later they are ready with 72 minutes of guttural growling, insane technical prowess, and stunning musicianship that leaves the non-intellectual listeners on the shore as the band's space ship leaves the known musical universe towards the unknown. Nowhere else is this best portrayed than on "Telos", the ten minute centerpiece of the album, where the band takes its listener on a sonic journey through progressive death metal, technical metalcore, and intricate future metal through continuous time-signature changes, constantly changing quiet/loud, slow/mid-tempo/fast dynamics, and instrumental skill that should leave your jaw glued to the ground permanently. I dare challenge you to find but one passage on the song which repeats another passage, which is all the more impressive when considering the song is ten minutes in length. Vocally, it has everything, too: brutal growling, playful weirdo vocals, soothing clean vocals (think Queen on steroids), and much more. If there's one song that could function as the emblem of Between The Buried And Me that isn't called "Selkies: The Endless Obsession", then it would be this one.
So in some senses, "The Parallax II" is exactly like its preceding EP, a return-to-form kind of album which shoves aside the softer and smoother stance of "Colors" (which is mind-blowing in its own-right, though) and returns to the more aggressive pounding of "Alaska", except in lengthier form. "Melting City" and "Astral Body" are also among the best BTBAM songs to date, with the latter one featuring some of the brightest and most innovative riffing I've heard from the band since the "Selkies..." masterpiece.
There is, however, one big 'but' associated with both this album and practically everything Between The Buried And Me have written since "Alaska". They are obviously amazing musicians capable of bending musical time and space at will, but some of the longer tracks that reach into ten minutes and beyond, could benefit greatly from traversing less into the realm of space metal. Instead of plotting down and playing every single idea they have with each song and extending the tracks into these mammoth pieces, cutting away the most preposterously technical progressive wankery could make good songs into amazing ones. There are plenty of passages where the band's ability to inject subtle amounts of melody into their futuristic prog metal gives the listener back chills - just see "Melting City", but these are often bridged together with several minute forays into BTBAM style instrumental perfectionism where every note and scale of the guitar must be visited in between. That still makes for a great album overall, but it lacks the sense of perfection of "Colors", and also the direct brilliance of "Alaska" and "The Silent Circus". It's as if the band are on the verge of creating the greatest progressive metal album of all time, but fall just short of the edge to grasp onto that title.
Download: Astral Body, Telos, Melting City
For the fans of: The Contortionist, A Hero A Fake, Glass Casket, The Arusha Accord
Release date 09.10.2012