Distributor/label: Metal Blade Records
Band Line up
Tommy Rogers: Vocals/keys
Paul Wagoner: Guitar
Dusty Waring: Guitar
Blake Richardson: Drums
Dan Briggs: Bass
Goodbye to Everything
Lay Your Ghosts to Rest
The Black Box
Silent Flight Parliament
Goodbye to Everything Reprise
Ok, so before beginning the review there is something worth mentioning. In that, this is one of those records which required multiple listens and re-runs in order to absorb the full extent of what’s actually going on here. I constantly found myself, stopping/starting and rewinding certain destinations in this 72 minute musical journey, each time feeling a new layer of clarity rooted within the musical infrastructure of Between The Buried and Me‘s latest record and first ever concept album.
Last year, when they released the Parallax I: Hypersleep Dialogues the North Carolina quintet announced their departure from Victory Records and were set to unleash the first instalment (a three track EP) of this story arc.
The concept itself focuses upon two characters who exist light years away from each other and ignorant of the other’s existence. It materializes that they share the same consciousness and in turn begin to seek an alignment which in turn leads to the destruction of humanity, who are portrayed as a destructive force in existence.
So as part II of the story unfolds, ‘Goodbye To Everything’ plays out as an acoustic clean vocal prelude, touching on the band’s more delicate nature as Tommy’s vocals hit all the high soothing notes, whilst musically the band’s love for Queen still remains as prominent as ever.
The album’s first single, ‘Astral Body’ barges in full blown metallic force as the first minute and half, displays a bombardment of tech drumming, free-running bass and math-metal guitar mastery. The mid Latino guitar breakdown executes flawlessly before reaching a climatic ascension of free-style drumming. The transition between growling and clean vocals stream together seamlessly with fluid-like ease, making this of their most accessible tracks found here.
The pace picks up with ‘Lay Your Ghosts To Rest’ which is where the Parallax II starts to get interesting. With a strong death metal punch and progressive funky breakdowns that intercept without any warning. The band’s talent from jumping between genres like the flick of a light switch hasn’t wavered nor slowed down in this latest offering.
One thing that stood out was Dan Brigg’s (Bassist’s) grooves which glide along over the guitars. The track also features some interesting solos, plenty of blast beat drums and a clean vocal chorus section which is reminiscent of their Colors record. The insane drumming spins out of control, whilst the bands circus influences slide into the mix as the track gets heavier and comes with a real metal stomp that comes crashing down.
The clean guitar breakdown and final chorus rise catapult their way into one final section as Tommy grows “The End Starts Now” which is another reminder that Between The Buried And Me are back with yet another powerhouse track that will keep you guessing at every twist and turn.
An instant hit, ‘Extremophile Elite’ with a synth-led intro, heavy riffs, deep throated growling and further pounding drums. The track disperses into a jazz/swing style interlude half way through with a xylophone which breaks the track into yet another unexpected juncture of the story.
The later section of traverses into a middle-eastern guitar melody, which is then followed by a return to the lyrics of ‘Specular Reflection’ (from The Parallax part I) “I keep walking into a certain state of walking into”.
The next two tracks which mark the half way point come with a spoken ambient narrative of ‘Parallax’ which flows out into a stream of consciousness soliloquy through space and time. This then bleeds effortlessly into ’The Black Box’, a clean vocal and piano focused song. Tommy’s vocals hit all high pitches and falsetto notes remarkably better than before, revealing a new found confidence in his singing voice.
Everything comes crashing back down in ‘Telos’, perhaps one of most heaviest and grittiest of tracks found here. The Death and Tech influence flare up as the chaotic drumming, droning guitars and constant stop/start time signatures resonating throughout. The mid blues breakdown slots right in with something Opeth would be proud of, as the heavier bass grooves and guitar build-up pummel back into an all out attack of brutality from each member, culminating into some of their heaviest work yet.
The most obscure moment of the album is in the Mr Bungle/ surf rock fusion of ‘Bloom’, a track that will either grab you or not. Enjoyable and completely off the walls as ever, it welds into another personal favourite ‘Melting City’. A heavily influence of Dream Theater, King Crimson and Pink Fllyod all become meshed together in a way that you wouldn’t think possible. There are also some great bass overtures and lush solos scattered throughout to keep progressive metal fans nodding along.
Those who have been following this band over recent years know how they like to go out in style with 15 minute closing tracks and The Parallax Part II is in no way shy of doing this either. As ‘Silent Flight Parliament’ wades slowly with clean vocals, keys, double kick pedals; eventually explode into a tech metal blood bath, with different vocal layers running alongside each other. The proggy mid break down disperses in a soothing fragility whilst the clean vocals work in harmoniously together with the instrumentation.
Paul Waggoner and Dusty Waring’s solos reach a whole new level here as fans of their guitar work wont be let down by some of the face melting lead work found here. An orchestral backdrop leaks into the track which serves as a prelude back to the intro’s opening solo which crashes into the astounding euphoric ’Goodbye To Everything Reprise’ which marks the end of this rollercoaster of a record.
Final thoughts, an album that is difficult to draw any clear conclusion from. There is a wide terrain of emotions and musical influences that have been thrown into this exhilarating piece of music and once again Between The Buried And Me have torn up the instructions manual when it comes to song writing and delivered another milestone in their maturity of sound.
As their albums go, this is perhaps their most cohesive and daring venture yet and its moments like this in that make you proud to be a fan. The only criticism is that this also their longest record and may becoming taxing on the untrained ear. However, this being said these guys have never been a band to hold back or sell-out and after nearly ten years of raising the bar it makes you wonder what will be the next step in their career. One thing is for sure, The Parallax II: Future Sequence is going to be a hard to top.