Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Record Label: Metalblade Records
Release Date: October 9th, 2012
About three years ago, I was at Target, and I noticed a record entitled The Great Misdirect by the metal/metalcore outfit Between the Buried and Me. It turns out that was the band’s fifth full-length album and last on Victory Records. I had never really listened to them before, but I was very curious. I brought the album home, put the CD into my computer, and was instantly blown away. Between the Buried and Me is not your average metal band. They are one of those bands that are much more than a metal band; they’re progressive metal, meaning that they’re a bit more ambitious than a lot of their peers, which I like. They’re different, and it really shows. The only thing that does bother me about this band is how they do have a different sound, but their records all sound similar to one another. In a way, they’re the Mumford and Sons of metal – Mumford and Sons is a band who also has a unique sound, but their last two records have sounded quite similar. That’s a problem I had with 2012’s Babel, and while it was good, it was very similar to the band’s first CD. The same can be said for Between the Buried and Me. They have an awesome sound, but there aren’t many moments where they expand upon it. Some would argue with me they do expand on it, but in the last few albums, I haven’t heard much of it. Regardless, The Parallax II: Future Sequence is a continuation of 2011’s EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. This is a concept record, and as a concept record, it works quite well.
The record starts off with “Goodbye to Everything,” and it’s a minute and a half intro track, which is really eerie, honestly. It starts with vocalist Tommy Giles singing over an acoustic guitar, and it’s like the calm before the storm, basically. You know that it’s going to get heavier, so in a way, this is a teaser. It’s really cool, because it’s a contrast to a majority of the album. It leads right into next “Astral Body,” which is definitely the opposite of “Goodbye to Everything.” A pummeling guitar riff by Paul Wagnor takes the lead, while drummer Blake Richardson dominates on the drums, with a very interesting rhythm. At about 1:40, Giles’ scream kicks in, and he has one ferocious scream, which really contrasts from his soothing clean vocals. This track is great, though. It sets the stage for the album itself, because it shows how technical, and experimental they are. This track is only five minutes, but it’s a great five minutes. The musicianship, and instrumentation are through the roof, and I’m not even 6 minutes into the album yet. This is a great album, even from the start. Ironically, though, the last ten seconds of the song slow down to a very slow guitar riff, but pick up again immediately in next track “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest.” Giles’ scream shows up again in full force, and it just dominates the listener’s speakers. About a minute and half into the 9-minute epic, Giles’ clean vocals appear again, and a very cool guitar riff slows things down slightly. This is what I meant by them being more than metal; they’re certainly metal, but they expand upon it a little bit. While they don’t really expand upon their own sound, it works. Anyway, the song follows this for a few minutes, and becomes much heavier again. This isn’t the longest track on the album, though; that award goes to eleventh track, “Silent Flight Parliament” at 15 minutes. Despite the band having songs over 10 minutes, they aren’t boring, or drag on at all, which is something I really like about them.
As the album goes on, it’s very interesting, to say the least. There are a lot of twists and turns here. Next track “Autumn” is one of three “interludes,” basically. It’s about a minute long, but it just seems to serve as a little break, so to speak. It’s a really weird instrumental interlude with weird noises, and just seems like a little break, like I said. It gives you a minute to relax before next track “Extremophile Elite,” which is another 10-minute epic. It starts off with a cool keyboard riff by Giles, followed by a guitar riff to accompany. It has that “Between the Buried and Me” sound, and it’s really cool. This leads me to the one and only problem I have with this album, and this band, really – it goes back to what I said about them being the Mumford and Sons of metalcore; they have a cool and interesting sound, but every song does sound very similar to one another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, and this album is awesome in every way, but they don’t seem to expand on their own sound. They do expand on metalcore, but not their own sound, either. The album’s total length is about 72 minutes, which is about 18 minutes shy of a 90-minute film. It’s a doozy, basically. During the 7-minute mark on “Extremophle,” there’s a really cool part where Giles’ talks almost. It’s hard to describe, but among the chaos, it’s almost like he’s reciting poem in the form of his lyrics, which are really cool, by the way. The lyrics on here are great, and they do tell a story, which is what a concept album should do. British band Muse released a new album earlier this year, and regardless of you feel about them, that was supposedly a concept record, too; well, it didn’t seem very cohesive, while the record wasn’t terrible. The overall “concept” fell to the wayside, unlike here, where it’s rather clear. Sixth track “Parallax” is another one of those interlude tracks, but this one is a bit different; it features someone talking over a slow guitar riff, speaking about the album, basically. It’s really weird, but really cool at the same time. Next track, “Black Box,” has a piano riff that’s accompanied by Giles’ soothing but eerie clean vocals; this is a great track, because it slows down the album, but of course, not too much. It’s another contrast, and another of those “twists” I spoke about earlier. The ending of the song has a guitar riff come up as well, but it doesn’t sound forced or annoying, either. It’s the crescendo, essentially, which leads into the next track “Telos.” What I find funny about that name is that Telos is the name of a planet on the science-fiction show Doctor Who, in which a race of cyborgs called the “Cybermen” come from. The song itself is great, though; it continues the typical sound by Between the Buried and Me, and while it’s not terribly different from anything I’ve heard in the whole album so far, it’s still great. Ninth track “Bloom” is the opposite; it’s something different. It features a rather strange vocal performance from Giles, but it’s so cool. It’s also the shortest actual song on the record, not counting the interludes. It’s about three and a half minutes, but it’s still just as ferocious.
The last three songs are rather integral, because eleventh track “Silent Flight Parliament” is the longest song at fifteen minutes. It’s a really interesting track, because it’s so long. The track before that “Melting City” is another aggressive track; it contrasts between melody and heaviness. Giles’ clean vocals mesh well with his screams, and he seems to ease into one or the other without any problems. He can easily transition well, and in fact, one thing I do like is the transitions are here. They don’t seem out of place, or awkward, but they just seem to flow. The songs seem to flow together, because they all lead into one another. On “Melting City,” there’s a cool guitar solo around five minutes into the song (it’s a ten minute track) that lasts for a minute or so, and it just sounds really cool. It eases into a very mellow part of the song with Giles crooning the listener yet again. Eleventh track “Silent Flight Parliament” is a very interesting track, being that it’s the longest, as I mentioned earlier. It’s fifteen minutes, and the last song on the album, minus the “Goodbye to Everything Reprise” at the end. Both tracks are rather interesting; the former being another BTBAM track that’s just absolutely epic and ethereal in every way, and the former being the outro, which is a very suitable closing track for an album of this nature. It seems to just continue the intro, which is really cool. It slows down quite a bit, but it ends the album on a very nice note.
This is a horrible review. It's beyond amateur and is incredibly vague, there is no mention of the sound diversity (influence of punk, Prog Metal, Jazz, fusion etc.), song structure, album organization(didn't mention that the album starts at the end and recaps). It's not descriptive, but says things like "weird" or "Strange but cool". I mean anyone who says BTBAM are the Mumford and Sons of metal has not listened and understood BTBAM to any extent. Hearing isn't enough. This was obviously not a band the reviewer knows well enough to review.
I think this is BTBAMs best album thus far. The vocals in my opinion are meant more as another instrument (which I have maintained throughout their previous releases) and they way the vocals are delivered and harmonized is as important as the words he's saying. But that's just my opinion.