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Between The Buried And Me - Coma Ecliptic CD (album) cover

COMA ECLIPTIC

Between The Buried And Me

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars (If you want a quick recommendation on this album, please check the very end, the adjust in style will not appeal to everyone, and I'll clarify if you're not sure what to expect or whether to buy or listen to this album)

It would probably have helped if I wrote a review to "Future Sequence" before I get started on "Coma Elliptic" (which I will soon), but that's not really the worst thing in the world.

To be brief: "Parallax II: Future Sequence" is the pinnacle development of BTBAM's sound. It's more melodious than ever, but still brutal as always, and even more and more memorable phrases and breakdowns that keep me coming back to again and again.

Dare I say it may be one of the best albums ever conceived? Bold as it may, it's no different than critics claiming Wagner the best composer ever after witnessing his "Der Ring des Nibelungen" operas. Even better than Beethoven? Critics today still debate.

Perhaps it's the storytelling, the motifs and themes that reprise and reoccur, and the memorable spectacle that it is, a description that easily characterizes BTBAM's catalog since "Colors". Maybe it's that bold step that the band took to make "Future Sequence" that gave me anxiety when cracking open "Coma Elliptic" for the first time. Surely the first worrying step is the fact that for the first time since "Alaska" has no song breached the double-digit mark.

It starts off promising though with "Node", a sort of quiet intro familiar to BTABM fans, echoing "Mirrors" and "The Backtrack". And it really does feel like an intro, with a bombastic overture-like sound. It doesn't quite segue into "The Coma Machine", but like "Mirrors" did to "Obfuscation" on "The Great Misdirect", it sort of leaves it out there as a single, the catchy tune that people will remember, and it surely does. The main theme alternates between 4's and 5's, and places a quite catchy melody ascending chromatically over a syncopated beat. The most notable factor here is singer Tom Giles', with even more melodic singing than ever before. The screams are still present, just not in abundance on this particular track. It really feels like a single (which is in part because it was), but it leaves a lot of the hectic and spastic breakdowns and heavy bridge sections fallen by the wayside. It's still a good track, mind, one of the few BTBAM songs that you can listen to that might not actually give you a headache (maybe), but despite that, the chromatic ascending phrase punctuated by the keys is such an ooey, gooey line, a real feel-good progression.

So, as I listen for the first time, the album has so far presented a more melodic BTBAM, not quite as heavy, but it still sounds like the band that produced "Colors", "The Great Misdirect" and "Parallax I & II". And as "Dim Ignition" floats by as a sort of bridge that echoes "The Black Box" from Future Sequence, I'm tripped up from the cut to double time as "Famine Wolf" kicks in underneath the synth segue. And the crazy guitar licks as well. So I expect more of a focus on singing and more complex melodic phrasing than just simple meathead breakdowns, but even though drummer Blake Richardson doesn't kick the band into serious get-up-and-mosh mode, roughly two minutes in the screams and heavy breaks kick, and the gang reassures us that "Yes, we still know how to melt your faces".

Phew.

My worst fears abated (and I'm sure many loyal, direhard fans). It's a shift in style, but not a warning of sell-out mode. Less of "let's make a catchy song to get on the radio" and more "Let's try and evolve melodically, not stick to the same tried-and-true boundaries that held us together. Let's try to even be more radical in sound, style and singing."

Sounds ambitious, but "Famine Wolf" appears to have done just that. It still sounds like BTBAM without feeling constrained, but rather held back, not because they don't have the ability to go nuts like usual, but rather, they don't WANT to. Some could argue that taking a normally complex idea and massively simplifying it is even more radical than the vice versa. Karlheinz Stockhausen was praised for composing "Gruppen", a piece for 3 (3!) orchestras, each with a conductor, filled with tone rows and never-ending complexities in 1957. Yet 7 years later, Terry Riley comes out with "In C", the first piece widely regarded to have started the phenomena of "minimalism", and he received complaints and hate mail for doing so! Minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass have been mocked by contemporaries for 'going the opposite direction', but their responses have been to the effect of "there's no need".

"King Redeem - Queen Serene" solidifies this remark. The sounds we all come to expect are there, but the abrupt jump-cuts to different rhythms and key signatures seem to have vanished. A loss in style? Perhaps, but to my ears, rather, smoothness. It's clean, it's effortless, it's transitionally brilliant. Any prog fan in their right mind will agree that if it doesn't flow together, that's a "No go, Joe". Perhaps if it's a bit of criticism, it's that Giles chooses to sing, rather than either scream or even whisper during one section with roughly a minute and a half left to go when it's a bit quieter and mysterious. Still, rather than just sounding like 4 songs in one, it really does feel like 1 song. In fact, that's part of the reason why I never much cared for "Prequel To The Sequel"; it felt too abrupt, too many jump-cuts, not enough cohesiveness.

So on we march, into "Turn On The Darkness", which, not to be rude, is more of the same song-and-dance. Not in a boring way, but it still sounds like BTBAM (quite a lot more screaming in here, in my mind, as well). One thing I did happen to notice, though, by this point is that even though no track exceeds the 10 minute mark, this album doesn't feel short at all. It feels deceptively long, in fact. "Famine Wolf" is shy of 7 minutes at 6:51. "King Redeem - Queen Serene" is 7 minutes at 6:59. In fact, no song falls below 7 minutes until "Option Oblivion", the penultimate track, hits 4:22.

So when you look back at the track times, again, it feels like a bit of restraint on paper, and at the end of "TotD", the screams should herald a classic Richardson blastbeat frenzy, but it doesn't. It's not an embarrassment, but rather just a little bit of restraint. Think of it like losing weight. Don't think of it as an "ONLY EAT LETTUCE" diet, but rather a "Cut back junk food, but make sure to eat all the different colors of the food rainbow, get all your meat, dairy and protein" approach. A gradual change in habit, but not so utterly radical it seems foreign to us.

"The Ecoptic Stroll" perhaps feels the most traditional of all tracks on this album. A weird stutter-step piano rag foreshadows Giles in a raspy tone, rather unusual, but actually quite refreshing, not at all like his monotone performance on "Colors" (one of the main niggles I had with that album, in fact). And yes, there are snippets of Richardson spaz-outs! The raspy verses are really quite entertaining, a unique sound you can really only expect from BTBAM, and before long, chessy and unusual synth licks bring out their always clever and playful side. "Stroll" by this point (roughly 4:30 into the track as I type this) is by far my favorite off the album, frankly because it provides the best of both sounds (the chorus is kind of forgettable, but meh, you can't win them all). FYI: The best part is clearly the guitar lick accompanied only by piano chords and the occasional finger snap. The finger snap makes it, honestly.

Just the title "Rapid Calm" hints that a major 180 degree turn is coming in relation to "The Ecoptic Stroll". And it surely starts off that way, with Giles gently floating on top a cloud of synths. Except, the drums kick in, and then the main verse sounds a bit heavier than you might otherwise expect. Still, it doesn't take long before a quick sentence of screams fades out, and a gentle waltz rhythm wafts you through a gentle croon of melodies sitting on top of an ascending bass line and the occasional flit of guitar and synth ditties. About 2 minutes from the end, though, the drums do fade out and a cloud of windchimes waft their way through a plethora of synth clouds (although 6 minutes doesn't really equal 'rapid' to me). Except that only lasts 30 seconds, and the track closes out with quite a nostalgic nod to hard rock guitar solo underneath a bunch of screams, ending on quite a nice melodic arpeggio. A good track if I say so myself.

If that doesn't impress though, "Memory Palace" will stun and baffle. It sounds like a corny hard rock intro, almost in nod to the "Rapid Calm" outro, but than Giles' brief vocal interjection almost echoes cries of Protest The Hero? What? The brief instrumental showcase though foreshadows a melodic and arpeggiated feast for the ears. Not necessarily in a fast, ballistic and virtuosic fashion, but again, in a more restrained manner that signifies more of a clean and smooth transitional process. Right before, in my mind, an abrupt drop to half speed roughly 3:40 into the song (meh, there's gotta be one, but there you go, all of BTBAM's signature tricks are still here!).

Although no track breaches the 10 minute mark, "Memory Palace" just barely slides under there at 9:55, and not only feels like the juggernaut of the album, but rather IS the juggernaut of the album, and frankly feels and sounds the part. It juggles all the typical influences and styles the band mashes up from album to album, and after that cut to half speed, from there it just picks up steam and, while it doesn't fly through at breakneck speed, it chugs along like an unstoppable steamroller, especially towards the end (with about 3 minutes to the end), echoing more blues rock phrases heard in "Ants Of The Sky" and "Fossil Genera". The half speed section comes back in at the very end, though, which clues to me and the listener that "THIS IS THE CHORUS". Well, duh. I wish it wasn't so abrupt, but now that I've heard the song the whole way through (including the guitar wah-wahs that bookend the song that sounds exactly like the James Bond theme [SO EPIC, not gonna lie]), it's definitely one of the best on the album. Catchy, action packed, and a hell of a lot of fun.

So now we hit the home stretch as the penultimate "Option Oblivion" sounds like a bit of a reprise, with a bit more spastic outbreaks and more soaring vocals from Giles (which is now frankly turning into a vocal showcase for him, my god). Only problem with this track is that, now used to the longer 6 tracks previously, it feels too short with not a lot of substance. It also feels like a finale, which doesn't make sense because it's not the last song on the album. But then all makes sense when that last track does come in, which essentially is a piano reprise of the "Coma Machine" riff with Giles once again providing fantastically beautiful lyrics over a haunting synth in the background to end the album. Right before the band comes right back in in triumphant fashion. Typed too soon, I guess.

VERDICT: So, what do we have then? An album that's still distinctly BTBAM, but as I suspected before even pressing play, it's more of an evolution and maturation of their signature sound. Nothing has vanished entirely (As Giles relentlessly screams at the close of the disc), but their spastic nature has been repressed to present a more polished and seamless album. Transitions are much smoother and less herky-jerky. Of course, that also means the heavy bridges and spastic blastbeats are reduced to a minimum, which will (I know) upset some faithful (then again, "Colors" pissed off all the old "Silent Circus" and "Alaska" faithful as well, so deal with it).

Which of course brings me to singer Tommy Giles' now more pronounced presence as, not just the frontman, but quite a talented tour de force. Granted, there are times I felt he was trying a bit too much (sang in sections he probably could've whispered or screamed), but overall it was a different change of pace and it still resulted in quite some good music and catchy tunes. (If it was boring it would've put ME in a coma. It didn't. Mission accomplished, 10/10 would listen again).

Now, I've given this 4 stars. At this time, I haven't given a review or rating of "Parallax II:Future Sequence" but I will give it a 5. It blends that traditionally chaotic sound with more elaborate rhythms and melodies and still catchy and melodic singing phrases and choruses. To me, "Coma Elliptic" just can't be compared to it at all. In fact, you really can't compare it to ANY BTBAM album at all.

(Seriously, don't even try. I did. It didn't work. It just made by brain hurt).

Still, it does lack a few tracks that are truly standouts, ones that just catch your ears and force you to put on repeat over and over again (like I did with "Extremophile Elite" and "Telos"). Even a diehard like myself, while not entirely disappointed, don't find myself listening to this as much as older albums. I will say, though, that it'll probably take MANY, MANY listens before it finally clicks. The same could be said with ALL BTBAM albums. One listen does not a proper conclusion make. It will take many listens for just one album to finally make sense, and it feels like the same will go for this, so we'll see if it stands the test of time, who knows?

LONG STORY SHORT: If you love BTBAM's heavier side only, STEER CLEAR AWAY. Yes, there are a few sections in here, but by and large, it's just not the theme of the album. In fact, it just may be considered the most progressive (in the most literal sense of the term). Yes, I love a big meaty face-bashing breakdown as much as the next simpleton, but sometimes it feels just a bit archaic, like it never really goes anywhere and just exists for the hell of it. It almost seems like a culmination from the band's very beginnings, from constant moshing on "The Silent Circus", to very little on "Coma Elliptic". Heartbreaking for loyalists, but for those of us of this generation whose attention spans equal that of squirrels, something refreshing and different like "Coma Elliptic" might be just what we need.

If you love the band's style, though, the melodies and harmonies and their occasional quirkiness, it's still a great album. Easily their most digestible. If you haven't or don't listen to BTBAM regularly, you'll enjoy this album thoroughly, guaranteed. For the regulars, it might not be so easy to accept the slight change in sound. Then again, if you've been a fan from the beginning, change and evolution in style is something you've lived with, and something you'll have to get used to for many years to come.

"Adapt Or Die". There's really no better musical representation of that phrase than this album.

Report this review (#1438715)
Posted Thursday, July 9, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars The moment I've been waiting for has finally arrived. After several months of anticipation, I have finally wrapped my hands around Between The Buried and Me's latest release. Well, figuratively, because I downloaded it off iTunes. I couldn't begin to tell you how impatient I've been for this release in particular. Hearing so many rumors about its change in sound, 'Coma Ecliptic' will surely stand out in their discography simply because of how different it is. Sure, they might shed some fans away, but I believe they will gain sevenfold in return. With a more direct, friendly, and quite frankly calmer approach to the progressive metal scene, I believe 'Coma Ecliptic' is the album that can put BTBAM in the spotlight.

The group of five from North Carolina all return in this album, but return in a much lighter way. My first reaction to listening to 'Coma Ecliptic' was in awe of how soft the album actually is. (Keep in mind, 'soft' is subjective. There are still plenty of ear-splitting screams and guttural growls). In comparison to any of their prior albums, this album contains less chuggy guitar rhythm, fewer drum solos, and a lot more keyboards. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. I couldn't help thinking 'is this another Tommy Giles Rogers solo album, or is this BTBAM?' From the start, 'Node' begins with a simple keyboard arrangement next to Rogers' clean vocals. The rest of the band chimes in after a while, and the album launches into a wild ride by the song's end. For the duration of the album, Rogers' clean vocals dominates 'Coma Ecliptic.' I'd almost say it's a 75/25 split between clean and dirty vocals, which not only makes it easier to listen to in a public setting, but also is probably easier on Rogers' throat. I could tell that the clean vocals are performed with more confidence, with more strength and precision than any prior album. The song 'King Redeem ' Queen Serene' is the perfect example of the magnificence in his voice, approaching the likes of Freddie Mercury and Mikael Akerfeldt. I applaud the increase in quality of his vocals, which boosts this album up a notch.

What's unmistakable about 'Coma Ecliptic' is not only how much keyboard is injected into this album, but also why the band uses so much keyboard. Rogers has described this album as a 'rock opera' from the beginning, with falsettos and baritones the likes of 'Phantom of the Opera' coming to mind. A concept following a man in a self-induced coma, it is only necessary that the keys tie in each song, helping move the story along the way as the protagonist visits his past lives. The added keyboard effects and manipulation are a bonus to the cause, since it is more present on this album than any other BTBAM record, and also helps to add to the mood of the story. In fact, the whole of 'Dim Ignition' and large portions of 'Famine Wolf' heavily rely more on the manipulation than any other instrument. I can easily imagine the beeps and boops of a coma-inducing machine corresponding with the sound manipulation on this album. Along with the use of contemporary equipment, 'Memory Palace' brings a sense of nostalgia, using keyboard progressions and effects heavily influenced by older rock bands like Yes and Emerson Lake & Palmer. I personally enjoyed this change to a lighter, more airy style of progressive metal. I can't think of too many bands that take this approach, and fully endorse the heavy use of keyboards in future BTBAM albums.

At this point, I imagine my readers asking 'so, are there any other instruments on 'Coma Ecliptic' besides the keys?' Of course there are! The songs 'The Coma Machine' and 'Memory Palace' (being two singles released off the album) contains some of the most complex, heaviest, and downright best material written for both rhythm and lead guitar. Aside the heavy chords and solos is the song 'Turn On The Darkness,' which is my personal favorite off the record. The song utilizes clean guitar riffs and low piano arrangements, almost reminding me of songs off 'Octavarium' by Dream Theater. After a while, the rest of the band comes in, performing what they know best: dirty vocals and dual guitar riffs. Bassist Dan Briggs also incorporates plenty of bass grooves and solos throughout the album, easily taking the attention of the listener when he shines. There are moments in 'The Ectopic Stroll' that are so close to breaking my car speakers, it compels me to buy a subwoofer just for the song alone.

Despite how amazing and different 'Coma Ecliptic' is, I do have one complaint. Drummer Blake Richardson is one of my favorite percussionists out there. I've praised his name on this blog in the past. Many times I have listened to 'Colors,' 'The Great Misdirect,' and 'The Parallax' albums, sitting in wonderment at the drum beats that rattle my head. Unfortunately, I don't feel that same excitement for this album when it comes to Richardson's drumming. I'm not sure if a) he purposely played down the drum sections because of the softer nature of this album, or b) what he played just didn't grab my attention as much, but it was a little upsetting through my first couple listens. My complaint doesn't mean that Richardson played badly by any means; I just wish there were better drum moments on 'Coma Ecliptic,' ones like the ending solo of 'White Walls' or the beginning of 'Specular Reflection.' Those moments always grab ahold of me and invigorate me; I can't help but replicate the drum beats on my steering wheel in those moments. That one change in the writing process would've launched this album above 'The Great Misdirect' as my favorite released by them.

With all that said, I am not disappointed with Between the Buried and Me's 'Coma Ecliptic,' and neither will you. It may be different than anything they've ever released, but I could easily argue that it's one of their best album they've released. Any fan of the band could see their change in direction coming since 'Alaska,' which ultimately led to the penning of one amazing progressive metal/rock opera album.

Taken from Crash and Ride Music

Report this review (#1443233)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars No Need For Our Sanity

Between the Buried and Me knows what they're doing. They've experimented plenty while still delivering quality albums, and they've actually improved over the years, unlike so many other bands. With Coma Ecliptic, they chose to release a concept album, and began to tweak their sound even further.

I haven't had good experiences with rock operas about comas. I hated Ayreon's The Human Equation, though I could appreciate how well Arjen whatshisname was able to tell the story. Like The Human Equation, CE also revolves around a man in a coma, who relives his past lives before he gets the chance to decide whether or not he should return to the waking world. Fortunately, Coma Ecliptic is musically better than Ayreon, but its storyline is unclear, the lyrics ambiguous. There is also a lot more clean singing than usual on here, and I'm unsure if its purpose is to make the lyrics easier to understand, or if it resulted from the band's mild movement away from metal.

Yeah, it's not as heavy. Heard on previous albums are skullcrushing assaults with the occasional switch-up into softer territory. Memory Palace is just about the only track from Coma Ecliptic that demonstrates this idea, the nearly ten-minute single that attacks with a barrage of metal, entering several spacey, psychedelic breaks reminiscent of Pink Floyd, which make the song work because they catch the listener completely off-guard.

On most of CE's longer songs, BTBAM opts for more variation by changing the pace and level of heaviness more often, instead of defaulting back to facemelting harshness. This new technique produces a weirder, more diverse and interesting composition, though it can make the transitions somewhat jarring. Coma Ecliptic is teeming with variety: the ominous intro to Turn on Darkness, keyboard breaks inserted seemingly at random into songs, and perhaps most notably the piano-based beginning of Ectopic Stroll. It is difficult to pin down a genre description for the latter, but it's kind of dancey (not in a sell-out way) and unlike anything the band has ever done. And then there are the album's softest parts, like the first half of King Redeem/Queen Serene and all of opener Node, save the guitar solo (though having a soft first song/album intro is kind of a BTBAM tradition by now).

Node's guitar solo sets up the album as being dramatic, a feeling that carries through to the chorus of The Coma Machine. This is easily one of the album's most memorable moments, catchy and with a piano line that captures the theatrical, regal essence of a band like Queen or Muse. The last two songs, Option Oblivion and Life and Velvet pick up the dramatic, epic sensation to properly close Coma Ecliptic. It's a good effect, one they've used before, and it's fitting, especially to wrap up a concept release.

CE, while less metallic than earlier albums, is easily on par with everything from Colors and beyond. Engaging with highly varied, unpredictable, and progressive songwriting, it will make it onto lists of top albums from 2015. The story is difficult to follow, but the music is great.

9/10, rounded up to five stars.

Report this review (#1445269)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must say I really feel great about the new band's direction. The older sound was most of the times too harsh for me, and actually I had to make an effort while listening to it. With this album, I don't need to, because I really enjoy it. Despite being still a heavy record, with this outcome they have found the balance between power and melody. Amongst other things, I appretiate a lot the inclusion of keyboards as well as a few more clean vocals. The storyline is also very interesting. I'm very glad to hear the band is happy with how this album turned out and that they plan to continue like this.
Report this review (#1527351)
Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's that time of day again where I review another album from my favorite metal band. So in 2015 after their goliath 2 part epic of The Parallax, it seems the band were hungry for more and wanted to tell more stories. So that was when Coma Ecliptic was conceived, a concept album about a man who is in a coma and explores his own psyche and his past lives. A lot less complex and epic than the Parallax but definitely something that can really be good if done right. This is probably their most divisive album. Mixed reviews from many sites from many people. Some say it is good but others do not like this album at all. I will give my two cents for this album in due time.

First song is Node. This song is an introductory piece for the album moving forward. It is another track that is a staple for the band's music, something that sets the mood. It builds throughout, taking its sweet time to really set the stage moving forward. Here we see the comatose man's introduction as his mind drifts onwards to a light. As everything begins to set in, some awesome guitars start to play. This song is great for really setting the feel for this album moving forward. It's definitely not their best first song out there but it isn't bad by any means.

Next up is The Coma Machine, and I freaking love this song. It goes through some awesome riffs and melodies, with the prominent one being the chorus. We get some of the band's most prominent and clean riffs and vocals here. You can feel the intensity while not being too overwhelmed. It moves through a ton of great movements that just drive home the band's progressive nature. I do admit the ending should've been a little better, but looping back to the beginning is fine but a little cheap. There is also a distinct lack of growls. They are still there but it's mostly singing. The album is clearly trying to do something different and unique here, focusing more on melodies and less on growls and trying to bring the heat up. It is kinda like how Ghost Reveries by Opeth did things, but here it is less classically attuned and more tech metal based. Here the comatose man in his status goes through an imaginary building filled with velvet walls. He soon discovers a machine that can rewind his memories back to his past lives, this is called The Coma Machine. Therefore with no way out of the room he is in, he uses the machine to go to another life. An interesting start for the story, definitely intrigued.

After that is Dim Ignition. This band really loves to experiment with genres and with this track it is less metal, and more electronic. I can definitely hear some inspiration from Vangelis or Kraftwerk in this song. The vocals are also smooth as butter. Tommy really is a great singer no matter if he is screaming or not. I do admit that this track feels a little too short. It has a great melody and everything but it feels like it got cheaped out with it being two minutes long. It's nothing to really fester over but it does feel very small. Here we see the comatose man experience his first life as king of a castle who then gets sieged. It feels very interesting how they managed to make this feel both like a story driven album that also feels as though it is like a normal album with songs that aren't really related to one another. I gotta say, I really dig this approach. It's very new and exciting for the band to be experimenting a little bit more than usual with their albums.

Next up is Famine Wolf. This song is very interesting but hard to describe without sounding like a broken record. It is heavy and progressive, which are staples to the band's sound, so there is not much to talk about there, so instead I'll talk about the vocals. Tommy's voice is just so great, he is definitely one of the best singers I have heard from any metal band. He sounds so smooth and clean. You can feel his words magnificently and it all ends up being these amazingly performed melodies. Even when he is screaming it feels very smoothly done so I gotta give props to that. Here the comatose man (who from now on I'll just Name Coma) arrives in his second life where was a scavenging wolf in an abandoned city, feasting on the weak but then gets caught and put down. Kind of a dark song, but it's what you kinda expect from this band.

King Redeem / Queen Serene is up next and this is probably the album's most varied track. The first half is very calm and pretty but the second half feels intense and brutal. You can just feel the shift in the two songs perfectly and I love that. It has that immaculate shift in tone that I cannot get enough of. It rises to this awesome sound. It also doesn't feel sudden too, you really do get that anticipation and it is brilliantly done. It is like a punch that was being pulled for so long and as it releases, it feels very powerful. Here we Coma reflect on himself as he is at a crossroads in his decisions. He doesn't know how to feel about himself and his past lives. This is just a great song all around to be honest.

After that is Turn on the Darkness. We get a lot more progressive aspects from the band on this one with some string work on here with some variations of their sound. It is eight minutes of very proggy elements that makes this song feel very at home in the BTBAM catalog of work. I do however have to say that the lack of growls really makes this feel rather soft in my opinion. It doesn't excite, it doesn't have enough teeth, you know? It's a good song, but I feel like it shoots itself in the knee with the lack of any real heaviness besides in musicianship. The story now shows Coma in a void of other comatosed patients who also used the Coma Machine, however have died and lost their spirits. It continues that dark and underlying motif of death in a limbo-like state. A very interesting concept for a story to have.

Next song is The Ectopic Stroll. This is more of the same as the last song but with more of a bouncy feel to it. You can feel a lot more rhythm to the song's riffs and drum patterns. It has a fun melody and it pays homage to the more fun and wacky aspects of Prog rock that I do enjoy. The song shows Coma meeting a god of sorts who decides to help him out on his journey of exploration. Kinda similar to Night Owl in Parallax, perhaps some interconnected lore? Probably just a coincidence though.

Next up is Rapid Calm. This song is practically void of growls and screams which as I mentioned before kinda make these songs not feel very heavy. Well this song is true to its name, it is not their heaviest song, not by a mile. It is very calm, and that is both good and bad. On one hand it is a new and great way of exploring new sounds for the band, but on the other it feels cheap. I want my Between The Buried and Me songs to feel at least a tiny bit more edgy, even their calmer tracks in the past still had that distinct style the band has had for decades. I think this song does have some edge, especially in the story, but even then it does feel rather void of any real sharp attributes. I appreciate the band for trying new stuff but sometimes the experimentation can fall flat. Continuing from the last song, Coma and the godlike being discover that the Coma Machine is breaking down and the velvet room is soon turning white, signifying death. Coma decides to go to a dream-like state and fix this entire conundrum so he can live another day.

Up next is Memory Palace. This may be their most progressively adjacent song ever. With the lack of any real growls, this feels like a homage to the early Prog of the 70s with the more complex yet safely done song structure. This is also the longest song on the album, being 9 minutes long, so we get a lot more densely packed epicness here. Despite it being 9 minutes it feels like a first part of a suite of sorts, and the next two songs on the album are kinda like the second and third parts, sorta making this a Prog epic in a way. I won't consider it to be, but the cards are definitely available. So Coma finds himself lost in thought and dreams. He is dying yet he feels alive in his dreams, so feels almost obligated to live the rest of his days in his mind, away from the burdens of the world, but he does feel like there should be more. A delima sets upon him.

Next track is Option Oblivion and it continues the sound and styles of Memory Palace while being a lot more technical in scope. I can definitely feel the band putting their all into this track to make it sound the best that it can be. Heck it also kinda harkens back to Swim To The Moon a little bit with the lines 'Breathe underwater, swim without limbs' so there's that too. In Coma's delima he decides to stay in the dream world. He gets swept through waters in his mind as he reawakens in a new place.

At the end of it all is Life In Velvet. This reprises the theme of The Coma Machine while giving an epic ending to this album. Even after death and turning into a spirit of dreams, Coma finds happiness in his new state, yet exhausted by the journey he went through to find his new resolve. Likewise, this song feels very celebratory as it ends on a more happy sounding crescendo and melody, ending off with a bang. They clearly wanted to at least make this album feel rewarding and I think this song succeeds in that regard. Not the longest, or complex ending out there, but it is a good way to end this album off.

I will say that this album is definitely mixed for me. The story is great and some of the songs are really excellent, but other parts of it makes me feel very unsure. I will say this is a perfectly fine album and one that can be very fun to go through, so really I think it's more just a matter of what you want out of your metal acts. I recommend it to those who want a tiny bit more softer death metal in their lives. It can also be a pretty good way to introduce someone to this band, so that's a plus too. This is a good album, but not amazing.

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Posted Thursday, August 4, 2022 | Review Permalink

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