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Between The Buried And Me - Automata I CD (album) cover


Between The Buried And Me

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME return in 2018, three years after their progressive metalcore extravaganza "Coma Ecliptic," and unleash a completely new strategy as far as marketing their new product. While the band's albums have always run on the lengthy side more often than not exceeding the sixty minute mark, for this followup, BTBAM released their new material as a two-part combo that was released as two separate albums four months apart. This first installment AUTOMATA I came out on 9 March 2018 with "Automat II" following on 13 July 2018. While this was an irritant for many to have to wait for the conclusion of a metal tale that is essentially two chapters of the same book, others like myself simply waited until both were released so that i could listen to them instantly in their proper order.

While linked by the daedal conceptualization that revolves around the ability to view the dreams of others, the two albums stylistically differ quite substantially from one another. AUTOMATA I nurtures the more traditional sound that BTBAM has crafted subsequently as the band has crafted more progressive metal elements into their metalcore bombast whereas "Automata II" is the much more experimental of the pair. Both albums are relativity short by BTBAM's standards and serve more like two separate EPs but they have been marketed as two bona fide albums that constitute a greater whole. AUTOMATA I clocks in at 35:13 and "Automata II" at 33:12. With so many bands releasing an album with an extra disc of bonus material, it's surprising that BTBAM went the opposite direction and split this essentially single album into half.

Since the band has enjoyed a rather stable lineup of the same five members ever since 2005's "Alaska," BTBAM has consistently evolved their progressively tinged metalcore into ever more sophisticated progressive and experimental extreme metal that simply builds upon what came before. For those familiar with "Coma Ecliptic," AUTOMATA I continues the same intricate weaving of pummeling guitar riffs, progressively designed compositions with time signatures run amok and the ever changing dynamics and tempos that jump from bombastic progresso-core madness with the expected screamed vocal style to the softer passages that implement clean guitar sweeps, soaring atmospheric embellishments and melodic clean vocals that hypnotize before the pendulum swings back to the erratic distortionfest and metalcore mania.

AUTOMATA I consists of six tracks that lyrically tackle the concept of dreams being broadcast for the purpose of entertainment. While the lyrics themselves are quite nebulous in their intricate design, the album allows the listener to explore the ramifications of such technologies that could possibly be used to induce, record and even weaponize dreams for the purposes of overall control. Musically, AUTOMATA I delivers the usual extraordinary daring and tight musicianship that isn't afraid to tread some of the most progressive pastures that the band has embarked upon to date. The secret of BTBAM's longevity is that the band has successfully gaged the evolutionary threshold of the fanbase and only deviates a certain degree as not to alienate the followers.

To the uninitiated AUTOMATA I may not sound significantly different than the series of progressive metal dominated albums that have emerged since 2012's "The Parallax II: Future Sequence" but careful repeated spins finds AUTOMATA I has plenty of its own personality to set it apart from its predecessors. Of course, this album displays the unmistakable unique style that only BTBAM can generate, that is that intense surreal swirling about of the most extreme metal with atmospheric psychedelia and angular convoluted progressive rock in all its escapist tendencies.

Within the six tracks, the pacing is impeccably designed. The dynamic shifts from aggressive to serene allow the attention span never to wander far and the excellent production allows every tiny sound to come to life which makes this a bona fide 21st century musical sci-fi experience. While "Condemned To The Gallows" starts off with clean guitar arpeggios with lush keyboards and electronic vocal effects, the album ratchets up quickly to the metalcore crescendos that weave in and out of the musical flow. While every track holds up well and integrates into the larger framework, the highlight comes from the closing dual pomp of the brief ambient "Gold Distance" in conjunt with the ten minute finale "Blot" which goes for the gusto with some of the craftiest mix of sitar sounds, eccentric keyboard riffing and superb guitar riffs and soloing as it sallies forth down an extreme labyrinthine journey with some of the most soaring melodic vocal deliveries on the album.

There seems to be a general consensus that AUTOMATA I is the weaker of the two installments, however after several spins of these two well-crafted mini-albums, i have come to the conclusion that these two segregated segments of the overall storyline are of roughly equal standing. While "Automata II" is the one that takes BTBAM into completely unexplored arenas including the territory of swing jazz that falls into the Diablo Swing Orchestra camp, AUTOMATA I as a traditional BTBAM progressive metal album is simply outstanding in its delivery from beginning to end. Perhaps the main complaint would be that it plays it too safe and doesn't deviate too far from previous albums, but despite snuggling up in its comfort zone, nevertheless cranks out six seriously fine-tuned compositions that shows that the band are still on top of their game and in full control of their musical output. This is an excellent followup to their their never-ending progressive metalcore legacy.

Report this review (#2111113)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars So after their release of the mixed but good album Coma Ecliptic, the band wanted to push themselves to a new direction. This time they decide to ditch the long album lengths and instead make a split concept album, much like The Parallax. Unlike The Parallax, these two parts will be released four months apart, to most likely boost more sales and streams. These two albums seem to be rather forgotten about, heck I think their first album and Parallax I are more talked about. I can definitely see why since this was a weird choice for the band to do, but it allows them to be a little more creative in each of the two albums. So I'll be checking out Automata I and then the second part later today, since they are both the same album, but they have enough differences to warrant two reviews, and also because many sites make them be separate albums too.

The first song Condemned To The Gallows. This song showcases a sort of "return to form" as it will to the band's sound. Basically put this favors a bit more to the sound of past records before Parallax or The Great Misdirect, being a lot less experimental and more in the favor of a traditional progressive death metal sound. We still have that vocal arrangement side of things from Coma Ecliptic where there was sort of a lack of growls and screams, but here it is better handled. It feels like a good balance between the chaotic and the melodic sounds. I really do enjoy this style since it allows the band to really be a bit more creative, while also staying true to their signature sound.

The second song here is House Organ and I think this is probably the most synth heavy track on here. You can hear Tommy playing his synth keyboard throughout the run time and you can kinda get a feel of what the band wants to do with this record. It goes for a more melodic sense of style while also being heavy and bombastic. Though I do wish there would be a little more of that face melting chaos the band has done for so long. I think where earlier records suffered from a lot of chaos, this record and Coma Ecliptic suffers from a distinct lack of chaotic elements. I want those aggressive riffs and harmonies that are blending in with the calm and melodic side of things, not just one or the other. This song is fine, but it isn't their best out there.

Next up is Yellow Eyes. This track features a lot more weirder elements. Some parts of the song feel very bizarre in the vocals and musical aspects of it. It is a little Avant Garde in a way but not too much where it feels too out of the ordinary. This is also a little bit more insane. The more melodic stuff still takes hold of the whole song but you can definitely feel the chaos more thoroughly here than House Organ. Because of it, I think it's pretty great, super proggy but still has that division between the face melting insanity and the calming melodies.

Millions is next. This is probably the first song the band has made without any growls or screams. As I stated before, I want some intensity in my heavy metal music so hearing a lack of it in the vocals department is kinda sad. I really do enjoy this song instrumentally, it has some great riffs and some amazing melodies, but the lack of growls paired with those riffs and melodies is just super weird to me. I don't know it feels very much like a song that was intended to be the first one because songs like Mirrors and Node also had a lack of growls and screams and they were the first tracks on their respective albums, so Millions is kinda weird. Honestly this would work better if it was the first track rather than the fourth one.

Up next is Gold Distance. I am gonna be blunt, I do not care about this track. It's just a short ambient track. This could be removed from the album and basically nothing would change it. It's just there to be there honestly.

Blot is the last song on the album. This is the big track off this album, and it does serve what it intends to do very well. This is definitely the highlight of the album as it really does feel like it is building to a good payoff, and the ending we do get is super great being a bombastic metalcore-esque finish. The little moments this track has are pretty good and they really do understand how to utilize their riffing abilities to make awesome songs that are truly progressive. Sadly it still has a lot less growls than I wanted it to have, which is still weird to me since Tommy made no mention of the growling or screaming hurting his voice to where he would rather not do it as much, so I guess it is just a weird artistic choice. A good ending to the first part of this two way experience.

This album is kinda like Coma Ecliptic where it has great songs but they also feel a bit dry in the very intense aspects. It is a fine album, but I feel as though they are saving the best for later instead of having a good handful and mix that their other albums have going for them. Check it out if you want a little more Between The Buried and Me stuff.

Report this review (#2782006)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2022 | Review Permalink

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