Between the Buried and me
are one of those bands I've been aware of for a while, but never really had a chance to get into. Over the course of 11 years and five full lengths, I've heard lots of good things about them, and I was doubly intrigued when they were on the Progressive Nation tour with Dream Theater
, and 3 (all among my favorite bands). So I was excited to finally have the occasion to listen to them now as they've joined Metal Blade and launched the first of a two-part story with Hypersleep Dialogues.
What strikes me the most about this is the ease with which they navigate a variety of styles. At 30 minutes but only three songs (the shortest clocking in at 8:22), you already know each song will have to cover a lot of territory, but they could have easily gone the route of riff after riff, growl after growl. While the pounding riffs and growls are certainly at the forefront -- and what else would you want from your metal? -- the melodies, clean vocals, and jazzier sections stand out as well.
Consider opener "Specular Reflection," which spends the first 50 seconds with some off-kilter piano, brass, and strings, before leading into an alternately crushing and discordant riff. It shows avant-garde roots, and not just the easy-to-grasp semi-avant stylings of some of Diablo Swing Orchestra or Dakyra, but the more jarring stylings of somebody like Unexpect
. But later in the song, we're treated to calm interludes and even endlessly hooky, stuck in your head for days clean melodies. Elsewhere on the album, "Augment of Rebirth" has a section that from an instrumental standpoint comes out as the band's take on symphonic black metal. And finally, closer "Lunar Wilderness" opens with a long jazzy groove and fretless bass solo and later takes another trip through more avant-garde territory. The stylistic transitions never come across as unnecessarily jarring and always seem to serve the song well; this is a criticism I see leveled at other bands with similar tendencies toward combining drastically different sections and styles.
This album is near to perfection as far as the heavier end of progressive metal goes. As usual, if the growls are a complete turnoff, you may as well stay away, but this is otherwise a hugely satisfying listen and definitely worth picking up. As for me, I'll be waiting for the second part of the set, and may have to finally go back and check out a bit of the band's back catalog.