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Between The Buried And Me biography
Originally formed in 2000 by members of Prayer For Cleansing, Between the Buried and Me play an unpredictable combination of countless styles, generally centering around an extremely complex variety of metalcore with death metal influences. Their constantly shifting song structures and tight musicianship have combined with intense agression and remarkable variety to gain them a noteworthy following. Their style of extreme metal was introduced on their debut album in 2002 and began to gain increased attention with 2003's The Silent Circus. The aftermath of this release saw drastic lineup shifts in the band, with only vocalist/keyboardist Tommy Rogers and guitarist Paul Waggoner remaining from their previous lineup. The group's new cast of musicians included Glass Casket guitarist Dusty Warring and drummer Blake Richardson, as well as bassist Dan Briggs, recording and releasing Alaska in 2005 to critical acclaim.

In 2006, the band released an album comprising of bands that influenced Between the Buried and Me.

Their 2007 release, Colors, was also released to much critical acclaim and saw most of the metalcore/hardcore influence in their sound done away with.

The band also released their first ever DVD in 2008, Colors_Live, a live DVD featuring the whole of the album Colors played from beginning to end.

Why this artist must be listed in :
Approved by the prog-metal experts team.

Between the Buried and Me, studio album (2002)
The Silent Circus, studio album (2003)
Alaska, studio album (2005)
The Anatomy Of... (2006)
Colors, studio album (2007)
The Great Misdirect, studio album (2009)

Between The Buried And Me official website

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Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.88 | 59 ratings
Between the Buried and Me
3.61 | 78 ratings
The Silent Circus
3.56 | 116 ratings
2.85 | 57 ratings
The Anatomy Of...
4.02 | 327 ratings
4.02 | 244 ratings
The Great Misdirect
4.17 | 221 ratings
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
4.02 | 220 ratings
Coma Ecliptic

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)


4.38 | 38 ratings
Colors LIVE
3.67 | 9 ratings
Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 5 ratings
Best Of

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
3.82 | 77 ratings
The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Between the Buried and Me by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.88 | 59 ratings

Between the Buried and Me
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars BETWEEN THE BURIED ME formed in the year 2000 from the ashes of the metalcore band Prayer For Cleansing which focused on combining punk and melodic death metal. Three of the members: lead guitarist Paul Waggoner, drummer Will Goodyear and vocalist / keyboardist Tommy Rogers decided to carry on that band's hardcore sound and introduce progressive elements to the mix. In case you're wondering where they got their new strange name, it actually comes from the lyrics of the Counting Crows track "Ghost Train," a folk band from whom they would borrow some influence in the slower subdued parts between their hardcore bombast. After real easing a 3-track demo in 2001 (which were all re-recorded and released here), BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME was showing promise early and scored the interest of Lifeforce Records and released their debut eponymous album in 2002.

This band meant business from the very start and delivers a more than competent album of progressive extreme metal that emphasizes metalcore as it root base but adds healthy doses of deathcore, folky subdued interludes all decorated with layers of progressive metal in the mix. The technical wizardry comes not only in the form of numerous innovative time signature plays between the musicians but also in the long drawn out sometimes overlong song structures. True to extreme metal Rogers' vocals range from death metal growls to punk shouting and extreme core vocal abuses. While the moshpit inducing music mainly remains on full flame, the band has the uncanny ability to suddenly transport the listener into serene space rock with a thick atmospheric fog, arpeggiated hypnotic effects and soothing soft clean vocals with a tinge of contemporary folk.

The result of this hybridism yields an impressive debut that displays some sophisticated technical wizardry and a nice parade of ideas that come and go creating a bona fide progressive metal experience that doesn't sound even a tiny bit like Dream Theater! While the core aspects dominate with the mosh inducing breakdowns and gut wrenching guitar distortion played as loud and ugly as humanly possible, the progressive metal aspects develop the music by constantly changing gears by letting riffs unfold naturally and then moving on to another musical development. Between the ever changing riffs that offer various amounts of melodic and dissonant ingredients trading off or blending at any given moment, the music has an overall catchy yet complex feel to it. These guys knew how to play right away but they were also very political in nature with better lyrical content than their contemporaries.

While this debut is exquisitely performed, it is rightfully overshadowed by the releases that follow because the sheer amount of innovative features and genre blending that occurs later hasn't quite reached its fruition. While every track on album number one is quite impressive in its own right, i find the tracks begin to repeat the same formula a bit too much and by the end of the album it feels a little samey although there is more than enough variation in the tracks themselves to keep them interesting. Personally i find this to be a decent slice of progressive metalcore which hardly will ever dethrone its successors as their cream of the crop but while the future releases are much like a bento box of musical genre tidbits blended with their version of progressive metalcore, this one is more like a tasty single entrée if that is what's on the menu tonight. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME were one of the true innovators of making one of metal's most extreme and uncompromising sub genres grow up a little without losing any of that teenage angst and their debut displays all their potential and then some. 3.5 but rounded up because this is really progressive

 Coma Ecliptic by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 220 ratings

Coma Ecliptic
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Apocalypse in 9/8

5 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.
 Colors LIVE by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover DVD/Video, 2008
4.38 | 38 ratings

Colors LIVE
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars I usually do not buy too many live releases unless I really like a band. That is the case for me with Between The Buried And Me. I really love the masterpiece that is Colors, but I enjoy everything they have done. If you like Colors, this is a must get CD/DVD combo. The performance will blow you away, and the sound quality is stellar. With this release you get the entire Colors album performed live and an excellent set of tunes from other albums, but the audio CD is only 8 tracks of Colors Live. The amazing musicianship is apparent, but what you see in the video is a group that really loves what they do. This was performed with passion and conviction. If you love Progressive Metal, this should be a must buy. I realize BTBAM is an acquired taste, but the sheer talent should draw you in. Colors Live gets my highest recommendation.
 Colors by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 327 ratings

Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars Between The Buried And Me have more than one album that can be considered a masterpiece. However, if I had to choose their absolute best, it would be Colors. It is such an excellent album, and an perfect place to start if you are interested in Between The Buried And Me. I think anyone that enjoys all the sub-genres of Progressive Rock will find something to love in Colors. It contains excellent musicianship, dueling clean and growl vocals, and pure chaos wound up in a nice bow. Sure tracks like Ants Of The Sky or Prequel To The Sequel have their brutal moments, but the organized craziness is just so infectious. If you do not like their sound at all, that can be understood as it is an acquired taste. However, the talent level is so evident, and the compositions are so varied that you will always be guessing. I do not think you can find anything more original than Colors, and that innovation is needed in today's musical landscape. This gets my highest recommendation, and anyone that loves Progressive Metal and Progressive rock should give it a go.
 Coma Ecliptic by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 220 ratings

Coma Ecliptic
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars I am in the process of collecting their catalog, and I love everything I have heard so far. If you enjoy your music complex and varied, then Between The Buried and Me is the perfect band for you. The musicianship is top notch as usual, with lots of variety to keep you guessing. I think the way they mix in many genres from Jazz to Metalcore to Progressive Rock is just brilliant. Coma Ecliptic is more of the same, which is not a bad thing when the bar is set so high. I don't want to say it is better than their other masterpieces Colors or The Parallax II: Future Sequence, because that would be difficult to do. However, if you are looking for a continuation of quality set by those previous albums, you will not be disappointed. Any fan of Progressive Metal or Progressive Rock should pick up their latest and move backwards through their catalog. While the music can be brutal at times, there are those soft progressive elements that just balance it out and reward the listener.
 Coma Ecliptic by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 220 ratings

Coma Ecliptic
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Insin

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.

 Coma Ecliptic by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 220 ratings

Coma Ecliptic
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by crashandridemusic

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

 The Parallax II: Future Sequence by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.17 | 221 ratings

The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The best metal album ever made.

Yeah, I said it.

The best metal album ever made (although Metallica's S&M is a close second, but that's a live disc so I'm not sure that counts).

Now, I'm not an idiot. I understand attaching words like "best" or "greatest" to anything is going to piss people off, because, frankly, these words are subjective at best, opinionated. So before I continue, these are the descriptors I use to determine the "best" out of an album:

It has to have an original sound. It has to display a wide variety of emotions. It needs to be able to tell some kind of story or tale. If the songs are connected or intertwined, they need to transition smoothly. The sound quality needs to be otherworldly, superb and top-notch. There needs to be a delicate but mastered balance of each facet of the band's signature sound, regardless of style or genre. It has to provide something new on each listen (or manage to be a timeless sound). And most importantly, there needs to be sections that instantly catch ones ear so that the novelty never wears off, something you'd put on repeat over and over again.

This album encompasses all these criteria in stunning and excellent fashion. Granted, it's not perfect (nothing is), but in terms of the zenith of just how far one can take a flexible genre like metal and still keep it within the bounds of accessibility, nothing beats "Future Sequence". I look at reviews of this band here, and 95% of them state in the beginning how most of them don't care much for progressive metalcore or the like, and yet BTBAM is a rare exception they can listen to.

That's probably the most impressive feat of all. Explore the very edge of the boundaries that are physically possible, and yet still appeal to non-metal enthusiasts? Even 10 years ago that would've seemed too good to be true.

The intro, "Goodbye To Everything", is your typical BTBAM soft, pretty intro. Before singer Tommy Giles Rogers went sing crazy on "Coma Elliptic", this is was his most adventurous in terms of his singing exploits, and even here it's a remarkable improvement over his frankly lifeless singing on "Colors". It doesn't take long for that to come and go and the catchy tune, "Astral Body", to burst into life and develop around a catchy 8-note guitar lick that signals a build in tension, a sign that "Baby, you're in for a real treat if you hang in there for the next hour or so."

Right away, I can tell there's a more melodic focus, despite a good abundance of screaming, which doesn't bother me much. Rogers' screaming is entirely unique, but it doesn't destroy my ears, which is good. The focus on staying heavy is there, but exploring more elaborate melodies seems to be the key, with drummer Blake Richardson throwing in some elaborate polyrhythms without having to go too mental. At least, before the blastbeats come in the second half of the song. Still, the choruses sound thoroughly composed, spectacles and fantastic arriving points in themselves, as if each one is designed to be the finale of a great epic saga or story, and "Astral Body" only presents the first of many to come.

"Lay Your Ghosts To Rest" is a bit longer than "Astral Body", almost twice as long (and honestly, I'm sure the lyrics are gripping, I care more about the music itself). Apart from that, it's a typical BTBAM double-minute gobstopper. The heavy theme only lasts for about a minute and a half before we're introduced to a sort waltzy circus kind of groove, before we're kicked out and get front row seats to another Rogers chorus of wonder and mystique. The clean and heavy sections still kick in abruptly back and forth, like you're a soccer ball and you're just getting kicked from one side of the pitch to another, but the transitions still don't feel as jarring as on "Colors", and nor does it feel as chaotic either. Controlled is more like it this time around.

"Ghosts" definitely feels like the most hectic and angry of the lot, apart from the almost pseudo-surf rock ditties and circus rock breakdown. I guess it's a good think the circus breakdown is immediately followed by a relaxing verse from Rogers' gentle croon and a nice guitar lick over a nice, soft waltz groove. And then we're back out into the light into a few extra heavy fills before the chorus returns once again and fades out into the atmospheric "Autumn", concluding the section of the album. In short, it's another typically constructed BTBAM song. Explores the diverse range of emotions, transitions are wonderfully executed, but it doesn't feel abrupt or jarring, but it does feel like a story being aurally told. Whatever the story actually is, I don't know, and honestly, I don't quite care. It's just brilliant.

"Extremophile Elite" is perhaps one of my favorite BTBAM tracks of all time, mostly from the fact the song's theme is Middle-Eastern based, and I'm a sucker for exotic scales and chords of the Middle-Eastern variety. The chorus is quite catchy too, the b-theme roughly 3 minutes is tasty, and about 2 minutes from the end, you'll notice a sort of c-theme underneath a sitar sample as Rogers' is stuttering through his "Walking into a certain state of walking..." verse, which, for fans of BTBAM is the same verse and rhythmic progression from "Specular Reflection", off their "Hyperspace Dialogues" 3-track ep. Same verse, key and progression, but on this album it has a more exotic flair to it, obviously. It's gripping and engaging throughout, and it just pumps me up everytime I listen to it. Maybe it's just because I'm weird, but something about this particular song is just so special, it's one of my most listened to tracks ever on my computer.

I also love the transition into "Parallax", the fade into almost distant nothing, and the subtle intro of the piano in "The Black Box", right before the band kicks back into high gear and foreshadows a future of beatdowns in "Telos". Even though Telos isn't my favorite, there are some juicy phases, such as that almost psuedo-Samba groove break2 minutes in signaled by the whistle. The heavy stuff doesn't last long til at 3:15, the soft groove begins, and the sexy time starts making its magic. This section lasts for most of the remainder of the song, and the buildup to the big chorus is phenomenal, and when Rogers sings "Rebirth, reborn", it's quite possible one of the most surreal aural moments ever to grace my ears. It's triumphant, it's terrifying, and it doesn't last long before the quick heavy them from the beginning retakes the lead and throws me for a loop, and onslaught that lasts the remaining 2:30 of the song.

"Bloom" is quite unusual though. Apart from "The Ecoptic Stroll" off Coma Elliptic, it's one of Roger's most unusual singing performances. Not that that's a bad thing, and I kinda like the surf rock theme the band churns out as well. The transition into "Melting City" is kinda weird, as I personally think the two tracks should have been merged to one, but that's not the worst thing in the world. I still have problems counting along with the chorus as the band throws in an extra beat constantly. It's just such an awkward rhythmic pattern. The addition of the flute in the middle though is hot, and the second, slower chorus is another triumpahnt, bombastic moment that's just indescribable and unique. The whole track just sends shivers down my spine half the time. Try doing that with a Yes album.

"Silent Flight Parliament" heralds the beginning of the end, much like "White Walls" had the same effect on "Colors". It's a great track, not one of my absolute favorites, but it's a track worthy of a finale, a finale that doesn't really come until an abrupt cut off leads into a reprise of "Goodbye To Everything". In a perfect world, I would've made the reprise as bombastic as possible rather fading away into nothing. Nevertheless, it's still a fantastic cap to a great album, an album that not only maintains a consistency through transitions and fluidity, but each big epic sounds the part of a stand-alone track as well, a feat rarely accomplished by even the most seasoned prog veterans.

VERDICT: It's glorious. It's ridiculous, sublime and then ridiculous again. It's loud, it's bombastic, it's epic and it's sobering. It makes me very happy. And yet it makes me very sad. Because this album, to me, feels like the culmination of a great career for this band, and even though I do like "Coma Elliptic", it's an entirely different beast from this, and I worry that the band put so much effort into this album that, frankly, I don't think we'll ever come across an album this complete, this thorough, this detailed. It's a unicorn, this album. Never again will something like this grace our ears. Cherish it. Embrace it. Leave it something nice in your will.

I might even go so far as to compare it to Beethoven's 9th. Once ol' Ludwig incorporated Turkish Janissary percussion and dropped a choir (A CHOIR) in the 4th movement singing "Joy To The World", I could just imagine all the other Romantic composers at the time going "NOPENOPENOPENOPE". It was the virtual equivalent to Beethoven dropping the mic and walking off stage (or going deaf and dropping dead, whichever works), and it would take roughly 60 years before Brahms came around to make the symphonic genre even remotely relevant again.

And this album seems to do the same. BTBAM have always created a sound unique and true to them, but as far as progressive tech metal goes, not even Dream Theater (my most beloved band) could top this. This is the pinnacle, and because of that, I fear that BTBAM won't ever be the same again. (please no, even if you can't recreate this album, please try. plz)

And on top of all that, it's accessible. It's catchy. It's heavy. It's quirky. It has so many elements that anyone can get into, and it's all blended into an accessible cocktail that's so well balanced and put together, they make it look SO EASY. It's staggering.

Honestly, whatever you listen to, give this album a shot. All BTBAM albums take multiple full listens to really grasp, but this particular album shouldn't take you long at all before you get it. And even if you don't like it at all, which I completely understand (BTBAM isn't for everyone, even though that's just simply blasphemous), you have to at least respect it for what it is, a colossus of epic proportions. If you don't, then I'm sorry, you have no soul.

The best album ever made. Period.

*dons flame retardant suit*

 Coma Ecliptic by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.02 | 220 ratings

Coma Ecliptic
Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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".


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.

 Colors by BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.02 | 327 ratings

Between The Buried And Me Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Ok, I'll admit this first off the bat; I discovered BTBAM through Guitar Hero thanks to "Prequel To The Sequel", so according to some people that means I'm not a diehard fan.

Since then, though, I decided to actually buy (buy! when we can just torrent!) all their albums since and will also do so for Coma Elliptic when that is released soon.

Now, I am a fan of some pretty heavy metal. Steel and iron, for two, say. But if it ain't got some melody, unusual shape or form, electronics or epic symphonic strings and choir, or doesn't tell a story, count me out. That means you, Cannibal Corpse.

But BTBAM was different. Even in Alaska, you could just tell that wanted to go bigger. They wanted to tell stories, explore melodically and technically. They wanted to do something no one else had ever done before.

And dear god did they get the recipe right with this.

Looking back on this album now, at times it seems a bit one dimensional compared to their later offerings, but their execution was no less than spectacular. "The Backtrack" provides a nice soft opening which leads to a blistering opening in "The Decades Of Statues". Even though The Great Misdirect and the Parallax discs have a bit more of a sophisticated structure (for lack of a better term), "Colors" still is one of their heaviest offerings. Right away, though, I feel a little bit of disappointment in Tommy Rogers' vocal work. It seems very minimalistic, more of a hypnotized drone than real singing or crooning which he flexes in later albums, which is a shame, because their cover album "The Anatomy Of One" proved he does have some golden pipe chops.

Oh yeah, I got off track. Long story short, "Decades Of Statues" is a [%*!#]ing bludgeoning sledgehammer.

But then "Informal Gluttony" rings in with a gong and some sort of tribal ritual drum and chant kinda stuff. Once the main theme of this song kicks in, then you realize this is no ordinary album. Time signatures are getting mashed, chords are going all freaky like, and Blake Richardson puts on one of the most fantastic chop tracks I've ever heard out of a drummer (and his setup isn't as outlandish as you might think for a metal drummer, he only uses about 4-5 toms.) And after another fine fill, "Sun of Nothing" introduces to us a now familiar staple of their repertoire, a long double-digit track with short introductory heavy section, then a longer softer section, followed by a reprise of the heavier section to close out the track. By "Future Sequence", it becomes predictable, but still nevertheless enjoyable.

This track also gives our first taste of their wacky side roughly 3 and a half minutes, with Richardson rocking out a jazz riff, vocal rhythmic stuff and is that a chorus of laughing babies in the background?

Before long though, the heavy breakout returns and the W&W of metal (Waggoner and Waring) introduces us to the nice happy theme in the middle, before it disappears again under another sheet of BRUTAL. And then BTBAM takes another 360 degree turn to some nice acoustic riffs followed by a very Latin-y drum groove, before Rogers introduces us to the "floating towards the Sun of Nothing" chorus, and then after a big melodic chorus, the screaming returns right behind frankly one of the juiciest melodic licks and phrases I've ever heard, building tension behind another amazing Richardson fill right before "Ants Of The Sky", where the actions literally doesn't take a break, and keeps right on chugging along. Between these two songs, I first heard just how well you could integrate huge heavy phrases between segments of beautifully orchestrated arpeggiated 7th and 9th chords. Then the nice waltzy theme of Ants comes in right before the instrumental breakdown with Rogers rocking the rock organ sound.

Honestly though, "Ants Of The Sky" is one of my favorite BTBAM tracks ever. It just flows so beautifully together like a giant finished puzzle piece, even the section where it flows into the obviously-not-Pink-Floyd-influenced-guitar spot and the rock organ power chords laying down the back beat. Clearly though, before this, technical mastery of multiple genres in a single track was possible, and was done, but just not this smoothly, this elegantly, dare I say. There's even an odd sort of neo-classicism in the high, melodic guitar licks as well. Very structured and ordered. Same as "Sun", in the middle the heavy stuff gives way to a softer buildup with Richardson on the toms, and Rogers crooning possibly the best melody on the disc behind some quite epic power chords. Hands down one of, if not the best track on the album. It really feels like a Shakespearean epic, where the big climax is in the middle of the story.

And of course no epic track can be complete without an homage to an old west bar/saloon with crashing bottles and a nice little acoustic solo, right before the Ants theme returns in epic, happy-mode fashion, which of course segues into the peoples favorite, "Prequel To The Sequel".

Of course, I'm a sucker for that intro melody, was and probably always will be. It's a unique melody, one that can't, and never will be duplicated, which is why it will always be one of the best ever, and what separates good bands from the great bands. Oddly enough, though, this song seems to stray a bit from the norm, as after that main melody plays, it's straight up onslaught from there on out. Although I really like that chugging buildup that ends the track on the Guitar Hero section, I still feel that it's out of place, and kinda feels cut-and-paste when the weird, pirate-y accordion section kicks in.

Also, I still can't figure out who screams at this last section. It's obviously someone else because Rogers is also the typical screamer correct? The sharp contrast behind his typical growling and this high pitched shriek is actually brilliantly done in the closing breakdown, before the song's 2nd theme returns in another cut-and-paste feel again. Perhaps that's why this song never caught onto me like it did everyone else.

Lastly, the obligatory soft (interlude?) "Viridian" resets the table for quite an epic climax in "White Walls", my 2nd favorite off the album. Once again, it's structured in that heavy-soft-heavy format that's become a staple of their repertoire now, as variations on the track's theme recur throughout, before the soft section comes in and Rogers' monotone recital during the buildup is absolutely chilling. Everything about the tempo, the chords, the singing, the melody, the overlapping harmonies, is simply perfectly timed. Something about this section before the growls and the break come in is just mesmerizing, undoubtedly the sound of what a climax to an epic album should sound like. And one last breakdown, a big (roughly) 3 minute finale rings out in true rock star fashion before it all fades to black and Rogers on the keys returns to finish where the album started.

Now, to sum up the album as a whole piece. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. There are parts in the composition that just sound like they would've worked off better in the head then it does through the ears. Frankly though, that's just a small minor detail in the larger cog of this album. What this album represents is something much greater than the sum of its parts. This is the definitive album that shows that melody and technicality can live together in a crazy progressive, death metal smoothie of some kind. Sure, other bands have been doing this for years before, but none have sounded quite as smoothly as when BTBAM recorded "Colors. Sure, listening like Cynic or Electrocution 250 was quite ear-opening, but BTBAM did something amazing, something that no other band has done before or done since, really.

It just... sounded right together.

When dabbling into the world of progressive music, there are undoubtedly moments in time where you hear a phrase and while praising the audacity to perform it, you also think "Gee, that, could've sounded much better". Even though there were some cut-and-paste moments in this album, it was also transparent, so much so that it felt like it was exaggerated so much to the point of sheer idiocy (the laughing babies section in "Sun", for example).

Nevertheless, it established something crucial for BTBAM that they strived for years; an actual identity. BTBAM actually kinda sotra hit the mainstream with "Colors" (which is why I heard it on Guitar Hero, or was it Rock Band? I forget). It almost defies logic; "You can't go mainstream with a concept album that's essentially one hour-long song!"

And yet somehow they did it. And their experience in making Colors has gone on to help refine that strategy to produce The Great Misdirect, Parallax 1 & 2 and Coma Elliptic (which I REALLY hope isn't a more conservative approach to their style, Parallax II is the [&*!#]).

So if you really think more techy-prog metal isn't right for you, try cracking into "Ants Of The Sky", "White Walls" or "Obfuscation" off the Great Misdirect. You just might find that a nice blend of melody and brutally might just wear off on you. It did me, and it took nearly 5 listens of "Colors" in its entirety before I was completely sold on the band. Every time you listen to BTBAM you discover something new.

Honestly this album was a game-changer. Someone send to a metal hall of fame or something!

Thanks to Bryan for the artist addition.

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