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Between The Buried And Me - Colors II CD (album) cover


Between The Buried And Me

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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5 stars My first impression:

Dream Theater makes an album: Everyone criticizes it for being emotionally dead and for wanking too much. Gets called "more of the same".

Between The Buried And Me makes an album: Everyone calls it a masterpiece even though it wanks as three times as much, has barely any memorable memories and is literally more of the same thing they've been doing for one decade.

Seriously, how do you even listen this record from beginning to end without ignoring how pretentious it is? I don't like bands like Opeth but you can tell from a mile away that their records have an objective, they're not messy and flow very well, the songs are cohesive yet dynamic, and they're not a mindless collection of pieces. And no, BTBAM fans, putting tiny transitions between tracks doesn't make it more cohesive, if anything it makes it look lazy.

Most records by Between The Buried And Me (I despise that band name) are a completely directionless compilation of riffs that the band put together to surprise prog-metal newcomers, but the lack of memorable melodies (which are something Haken, Opeth and Leprous are very capable of making) make this a tedious listen.

The over-the-top wanking gets old really fast and the growls are seriously the worst-sounding growls I have ever heard. The time-signature changes and breakdowns are so common they stop being special or outstanding and instead it ends up feeling like if someone gave you the same soup a hundred times. This band can play, they proved it all the way back in "Alaska" where they were already doing this sort of music, but it was more creative because it was their first that sounded like such, and now all I really want is to see the band make memorable music. But not memorable in a negative way, because I can assure you I will definitely remember this record as the definition of everything I hate in progressive metal.

Not a single second stuck with me, and I listened all SEVENTY EIGHT minutes of it. It was torture! Bands like Haken or Dream Theater may have been doing similar, generic albums recently, but they have wonderful melodies that they perfect merge with technicality, it's a little from everything, and it's very enjoyable. This is not a little from everything, it's everything from something little (and that little is: wanking).

Two Stars because their fans seem to enjoy this somehow. I'm gonna go clean my ears with Haken, be right back.

My second impression:

To be fair, I have found myself enjoying this album a lot. It has grown on me, and have gotten to the point of liking it as much as Parallax II. It is a very hard record to get into but very rewarding. Revolution In Limbo, Fix The Error, Bad Habits, The Future Is Now and Human Is Hell are brilliant tracks.

Report this review (#2587669)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars "I cannot seem to say, Say what I need, They have my tongue, Let's cut it out"

I must say that Between The Buried And Me are one of my favorite modern bands. They're incredibly innovative, inventive, and very professional. Even records like Coma Ecliptic or Automata I & II which were, less praised, we're still incredibly solid. But they have definitely done it here.

Some of my favorite moments of their entire discography are in this album, and the consistency present in it is truly remarkable. The band has come to a very high point of maturity, and it is noticeable in their music. Stuff like Fix The Error's brilliant drum solos, Revolution In Limbo's spanish jam, Bad Habits' breathtaking chorus or The Future Is Now's amazing syncopated accents are truly remarkable.

The album has a constant flow to it so it's important to listen in from start to finish. Five stars, one of their best records without a doubt.

Report this review (#2587670)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars Imagine if Yes names their new album as "Close To The Edge 2" or "Fragile 2", an insanely bold decision that probably wouldn't pay well. Between The Buried And Me's fourth album was their breakthrough album, and till today it's considered one of their best works, so a sequel to that record only meant that it was going to be a disappointment or it was called like such because they thought it was one of their best records. Turns out it was the latter!

I don't think this is the best album they have made, I still think Parallax II is better, and Colors is better just because it introduced their signature sound. But this is still one of their best works, I would put it at #3. The album, just like most Between The Buried And Me records, has a great sense of continuity all along the album, mostly because it's a concept album.

This record should be listened from start to finish, but some standouts would be Revolution In Limbo, Fix The Error, Bad Habits and the closer Human Is Hell.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#2587671)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brilliant album! I really wish more progressive metal bands were as creative and innovative as this.

Between The Buried And Me started out as your typical metal-core band, until the release of their most popular record Colors, which had them define their signature sound. So releasing a sequel to the most important album in your career isn't an easy deal.

However I must say that in this occasion they managed to capture perfectly the essence of Colors, whether it is with small motifs for geeks or the over-the-top musicianship that is present in every single one of their records since Colors.

The album is very long and very complex, it's definitely not an easy listen. It has twelve tracks, two clocking at over ten minutes. However Between The Buried And Me's capability of entertaining the listener from beginning to end is top-notch.

Absolutely recommended to any progressive metal fan. Gotta give it five stars.

Report this review (#2587672)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been a while since I've had a reaction quite like this to a new album.  At this point, 10pm on 8/21/21, I've listened to Fix The Error about 10 times, Revolution In Limbo about 4 times, the entire album twice (while driving or doing yard work), and once all the way through with total undivided attention, reading along with the lyrics.  I've not given this much attention to any album in several years; many reasons for that I'm sure. There have certainly been many worthy subjects for this level of scrutiny in the past several years, but none have affected me this way yet. There's no doubt that the timing is of upmost importance: if  this album dropped in any other time rather than at the (sort of, maybe) tail end of a global pandemic, during which I've had no opportunity to view live music in person for over a year, maybe it would not catch my attention as much.  (Also, there's the fact that I'm supposed to see them live in 6 days; though thanks to COVID I'm prepared for a cancellation.)  There have been a couple of other new releases that I've been enjoyed recently, but nothing has hit me like this. Nothing.

How long has it been since I've gasped at the majesty of what I was hearing for the first time?  For me, that happened in nearly every track, and most pertinently in Double Helix, Revolution in Limbo, Prehistory, Bad Habits, Turbulent, and especially Human is Hell. Really really loved Human Is Hell.  Really, a lot. A large amount. It's amazing.

How long (if ever) has it been since I read along with lyrics that described my inner and outer conflict over the past year and a half so accurately?  It wasn't too difficult to craft a story to fit, even a little, the horror of this time, but this is so miraculous in its execution that I found myself, gasping. At the risk of overstating this (given that I've only listened a few times), the emotional and intellectual responses I had with this album have brought to mind the response I remember when first listening to In The Court of the Crimson King, Close To The Edge, The Wall, or Farewell to Kings.  It certainly reminded me of the excitement that happened with new releases way back in my youth.  It's just wonderful, and I can't wait to see them next week, hopefully?

Report this review (#2587996)
Posted Saturday, August 21, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Colaborator
4 stars Colors II is a loaded album title if I've ever seen one. 14 years down the line, it seems our friendly neighborhood prog-tech-core-death-etc. band has seen fit to draw from the well of their breakthrough masterwork; and really, why shouldn't they? Colors remains one of the most acclaimed metal albums of the 2000s, practically redefining what it meant to be a progressive metal band going forward. Between the Buried and Me's penchant for creative musical set pieces and genre-bending craziness really hit a stride on the landmark record; however, as with any album that garners that much adoration, there will always be that lingering pressure to top it. But let's be real here: 2021 Between the Buried and Me is quite different from 2007 Between the Buried and Me. So much has changed, whether that be the inclusion of even more off-the-wall avant-garde elements or the growing prominence of vocalist Tommy Giles as a keyboardist. But I think the reason for Colors II being a loaded title is fairly obvious; it's a title intended to cause excitement for fans - especially longtime ones - but that could quickly turn into crushing disappointment if Colors' level of quality isn't at least somewhat met.

On a surface level, Colors II does seem to provide exactly what it should: a highly enjoyable followup to Colors that mirrors it stylistically. The same techy riffs, blazing solos, crazy genre experiments, atmospheric synth excursions, and juxtaposition of clean and growled vocals? they're all still here. And if stuff like that is your criteria for loving the record, I can't blame you. "Monochrome" is a pretty dead giveaway that there will be references to the original album, the song taking on a similar "piano intro to extreme metal" crescendo to "Foam Born A: The Backtrack" which opens Colors. On the other hand, there are a few experiments that really surprised me, as they likely wouldn't have found a place on the original record at all; the hardcore punk elements of "Fix the Error" and random fife-driven folk breaks in "Never Seen/Future Shock" immediately come to mind. Meanwhile, you'll find more familiar territory with songs such as the chugging extreme-yet-melodic approach of "The Double Helix of Extinction" or the "White Walls"-esque rolling drums and complex web of riffs that comprise closer "Human is Hell (Another One With Love)".

The performances, as you'd expect at this point, are fantastic. The members really haven't lost a beat since the original Colors in regards to playing such complex and technical material with grace and confidence. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring remain a formidable guitar duo, whether it be navigating the crazy rhythm parts of the Dream Theater-esque intro to "Prehistory" or the beautiful - and vaguely jazzy - chords found on "Stare Into the Abyss". Waggoner is particularly noteworthy for some of the striking leads he pulls off on this record, especially in the fantastic? uh, Latin circus section(?) (that's probably the best way I can describe it) at the end of "Revolution in Limbo". And obviously Dan Briggs and Blake Richardson still bring the thunder on the low end of things. However, the member who deserves the most recognition for Colors II is definitely Tommy Giles. He's often the member who garners the most criticism from both fans and detractors, but he sounds so much better here than he did on the original Colors. His growls have stayed largely the same, but you can tell his cleans have come a long way - both in technique and confidence behind the mic. Plus, on songs like "Prehistory" and "Never Seen/Future Shock" his way of hamming up the more theatrical bits is just so fun.

Unfortunately, there's one thing holding Colors II back from the heights of its predecessor, and I think it's a pretty big one. That being: the glue that holds everything together. The original Colors was unapologetic about having wild flights of fancy and not giving a damn what direction the music was going, but there was always some centralized location the music could come back to. And that was usually in the form of a cathartic release, whether it be the beautiful "feed me fear" section of "Informal Gluttony" or the soaring Pachelbel-esque melody that rears its head twice on "Ants of the Sky". Not only were these moments anthemic and memorable, but they were also a great way of ensuring the more technical and crushing sections didn't kill the record's focus. More importantly, the music would have simply become riff salad without these moments of restraint, and that's where Colors II all too often hits a wall. 79 minutes is already a beefy album length to begin with, and there simply isn't enough focus to maintain that runtime. This is particularly felt in "Human is Hell (Another One With Love)", which just meanders on without much of a reason for being 15 damn minutes long. Even the pleasant soft section that builds up the song's conclusion is just kinda? there. Sure, there are a few potentially anthemic moments on the record, such as the "monotonous drought" section from "Revolution in Limbo", but the album really could have benefitted from more of these segments.

With all of that said, I think Colors II can be enjoyed more for its craftsmanship than as an emotional journey. The compositions and diverse arrangements are still a lot of fun and the performances are incredibly solid, but the album often comes off as a jumbled mess when compared to its predecessor; it doesn't help that so many parts mirror that record as well, thus constantly inviting further comparison. But then again, that's what happens when you brand it as a sequel, right? The callbacks were inevitable. However, given a lot of the amazing material that's here, it's just a shame that I don't feel much of anything when listening to it like I did with the original Colors. Still, it's worth a listen for its abundance of great riffs and impressive technical acumen, so don't miss out on it if you've enjoyed Between the Buried and Me's more recent work.

Report this review (#2591762)
Posted Thursday, September 2, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Between The Buried And Me - Colors II

Between The Buried And Me did it again. This time in a much more old and risky fashion, by making the record a continuation of their most praised album, Colors. In their last albums, Between The Buried And Me seemed to have softened in terms of heaviness, less riff-packed tracks and more melodic approaches, all of this of course while maintaining their variate and fast-paced progressive metal.

In this record, however, the band returns to its brutally complex progressive metal from their Alaska/Colors years. The manic time signatures, breaks and song structures from the first part are encapsulated in a very sophisticated manner. Musicianship is currently some of the best in progressive metal without a doubt. And the flow that the record achieves with its interludes makes it a somewhat easy listen.

Probably their best Parallax II. Will give it five stars.

Report this review (#2598858)
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prog Metalists' favorite from Raleigh, NC, Between the Buried and Me are back with another highly acclaimed exposition of their eclectic tastes and ideations.

1. "Monochrome" (3:15) this is is Prog Metal? If so, it's the most benign, simplistic, and melodic metal I've ever heard. 2:20 death metal growls and more djenty guitar rhythm play. Okay, now I feel I'm in the metal jungle. (8.5/10)

2. "The Double Helix of Extinction" (6:16) one minute straight of pure and continuous death metal spew before a human-voiced chorus breaks things up for a few seconds. This is the pattern of this quite monotonous song. Though the instrumental performances are not as constant and metronomic below, they are lost (for me) in the of the turbulence caused by the vocals. I'm sure the vocals have lyrics but, what's the point? Only one mood/emotion could be being expressed by these sounds. Not interested. Even the cutsey electric piano at the end can't sway me: it's all fake. (7.5/10)

3. "Revolution in Limbo" (9:13) more growls open this one but at least it's not constant--which allows me the opportunity to pay attention to the music--which is actually quite varied and interesting here. The PETER NICHOLLS-like voice of the human singer are actually quite good and the music is decent (despite the plastic sound of the drum heads as they are mercilessly beaten--something that I always find quite irritating). I laugh while hearing the two growl voices "duelling" or conversing with one another around the five minute mark--and then the music shifts into a bassa nova! What the! As a non-death metal group of musicians I find their music quite straightforward metal, even familiar and IQ-ish. (17/20)

4. "Fix the Error" (5:01) It's the Ballroom Blitz! At least, that's how this song starts out. Then power chords, soloing underwater bass, and growl vocals follow. Other than the vocals, I feel as if I'm listening to Thin Lizzy--at least until the drum and cowbell solo with underlying talking bass and Baptist organ hits. At 2:30 it starts making fun of itself with what sounds more like some child cartoon/video game music. The next section reminds me of Opeth, but that church organ becomes more prominent again, taking things back into the comical (at least, for me). Nice execution and engineering. (8.5/10)

5. "Never Seen / Future Shock" (11:42) At the 7:00 mark, I can find myself relaxing and engaging with the less abrasive "Future Shock" section--especially since the vocals become human/humane. This is very Porcupine Tree-like--and melodic! Even mixed with some growl vocals, it's tolerable--and the music is nice--with some great lead guitar play going on in the background. Two songs, one I am unable to penetrate and enjoy, the other that I love. The second half would be my favorite song on the album, the first my least. (17.75/20)

6. "Stare into the Abyss" (3:54) opens with gentle piano chords played within a spacey sonicverse. This is nice. Kind of IQ-ish. At 1:37 the metal side of the boys bursts forth, but it's gentler--melodic, even. The singing that ensues is actually very nice--very powerful with long, beautiful notes not unlike --until 3:00 when the djenty guitar riffs and growl vocals take over (multiple tracks, which, I have to admit, are kind of cool!) before the song steps through a sudden door into the next song. A top three song. (9/10)

7. "Prehistory" (3:08) travels instrumentally as if a song by CAST or LINKIN PARK until 1:23 when a kind of carnival music and MC-voice take over. Then, stepping into second metal gear, they start singing in a partialgrowl about Creature Features and the like before falling into third gear around 2:35 for the finish. Not a great song; more like filler. (7.75/10)

8. "Bad Habits" (8:43) organ-foundation to some country-roads-cruisin' prog metal. I could actually see enjoying this one as I drove through the open lands of Nevada with the top down on my convertible. But then things change--as URIAH HEEP-like as the band tries to keep it with that organ and those classic rock guitar riffs, as soon as those machine gun bass drum notes start firing away I feel compelled to hit the ground and yell, "Blood makes the grass grow!" Must be PTSD from too many war movies over the course of my lifetime cuz I've never served in the military. Then the growl vocals take over and I'm dissociating again--what I thought was an innate (natural) human coping mechanism, but this would not help explain all of the humans who are drawn to/even "like" metal music. The more humane vocals here again remind me of one of LINKIN PARK's lead singers: both in tone and style. (17.5/20)

9. "The Future Is Behind Us" (5:22) opens as a fairly simple construct built around a kind of annoying child-toy-like keyboard arpeggi. The human voice vocals, however, help me to stick with it. Again, I'm reminded of a kind of cross between OPETH and IQ for the first 2:15. Then an ART OF NOISE-like bridge leads us into a more stop-and-go/staccato section with growl vocals. (From the band's official video for this song, I'm able to discover for the first time that the vocals--human and otherwise--all come from one singer! I'm impressed!) The walls of sound expand and fill in the fifth and sixth minutes beofre emptying out into a kind of RUSH-like "Tom Sawyer" outro (which bleeds into becoming the intro for the next song). At least this song kept my attention. (8.75/10)

10. "Turbulent" (5:57) from long "Tom Sawyer"-like intro to SAGA "Turn Me Loose" like and then Thomas Dolby/Peter Murphy, we get a real smattering of old sounds and melodies in this one--though still anchored in rapid-fire bass pedal play and occasional bursts of growl vocals. Interesting! A top three song for me. (8.75/10)

11. "Sfumato" (1:09) an instrumental interlude/intro that could have come from any one of several dozen modern prog rock artists. Nice. (4.5/5)

12. "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)" (15:08) opens with machine gun guitar, bass, and drum riffing before collapsing into a fairly melodic standard 80s metal sound structure. But then the growl vocals enter and everything goes grey/static/white noise. The first five minutes give me very little to hang on to, but then at 4:19 Tommy Rogers' voice turns human and I can finally latch onto something. But, this is short-lived. The next metal section that ensues varies only in the effects used on the lead guitar's rapid-fire riffing. In the seventh minute the music tries to go toward Dick Dale island, but then turns back--until 7:25 when a new meaty rock riff and structure is established--giving way to a little more Math Rock/Crimsonian weave at 7:53--which is then slowed down for some sensitive, spacious whole band interplay. I like this! Vocals (with harmonizing b vox!) join in. Then David Torn-like guitar solos. This is really cool music! At the ten minute mark we switch again, a kind of "Mr. Roboto" keyboard one note bass-line is established over which various unusual computer percussive sounds are woven with keyboard until LINKIN PARK vocal and growls are intermixed, side by side, one over the other, while the rhythm section play with odd syncopations and staccato playing. Overall, an odd song that, for me, puts on display the band members' rock roots and contrasts and melds them with their extreme metal explorations (and preferences?) (26.5/30)

Total Time 78:48

Despite the technical proficiency of this band, I find very little enjoyment from listening to this music. As much as I try, the head-banger supposedly laying latent within me has never emerged. It's even difficult for me to find musics/bands/songs to compare with music like this because my neurological and DNA makeup have been so resistant to picking up the supposed nuances in this music--and the sounds and styles that make each band and song distinctive from one another. All I hear is very competent musicianship, no melody, one rhythm/speed (rapid fire/machine gun), and, of course, due to my learning disability, no message--other than the underlying angst and anger. Sorry! Sometimes I think I should recuse myself from reviewing bands like these because I am so rarely able to find pleasure/enjoyment or connection to their music, but, hey, we're all here to share our opinions--which are inevitably coloured by our likes and dislikes.

B/four stars; an interesting addition to any prog lover's music collection and one that more eclectic, prog metal lovers will certainly enjoy.

Report this review (#2599043)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2021 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

As time goes on and the world sallies forth at an ever quickened pace, i have to admit that i like most suffer from a shortened attention span and therefore when i hear about an album that is getting lots of attention that is close to 80 minutes long, i'm a little hesitant to devote so much time to an album that i may or may not like. I could listen to TWO OTHER albums during that same timespan! However when the artist in question is an all time favorite like BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME i feel obligated to check it out especially when the album is somewhat of a sequel of their all time classic "Colors" which was their fourth album and remains their most successful and popular of all.

After a year of grinding to a halt due to the pandemic of 2020, BTBAM had time to reflect on where they had drifted ever since "Colors" hit the scene back in 2007. As it turns out with every subsequent album the band had slowly but surely tamped down the metalcore angst and instead ramped up the progressive rock attributes which while still in fine form seemed to have lost something in the shedding of all those core values that made the band stand out in the first place. Arriving in 2021, the band has released its tenth studio album titled COLORS II which sort of goes back in time and picks up where the first "Colors" left off.

Shockingly for a 21st century extreme metal band BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME has kept the same exact lineup for a very long time and that means that the same musicians who played on the original "Colors" album are back to take things to the next level. These guys have had plenty of time to hone every detail in a glimmering sheen and COLORS II finds the band returning to past glories in surprisingly good form. Guitarist Paul Waggoner has stated that "Colors" was the result of a do or die statement where the band had to [&*!#] or get off the pot that meaning it needed to find its own sound and fast to remain relevant in a crowded metal market. A similar moment of reflection occurred during the pandemic where BTBAM took a moment to see where they had steered their musical vessel in the decade and a half since their lauded breakthrough. The band decided it was time to revisit some long lost moments.

COLORS II was designed to flow like a sequel and in many ways it does just that. The album starts off with a non-metal intro and slowly builds momentum until the jarring metalcore rampages of the past shine through once again and like the previous "Colors" allows non-metal musical genres to intermingle and punctuate the cacophonous din in most unexpected ways. The progressive elements such as time signature changes and extended running times are in full regalia on COLORS II. Three of the eight tracks sally forth beyond the ten minute mark with the final epic "Human Is Hell (Another One With Love) " inching past the 15-minute mark. The stated intent of COLORS II was to create a metal album with an underpinning gospel vibe of all things and although the sounds of gospel are heard from time to time, it would be impossible to discern this motive by listening to the music alone. When all is said and done, this really does sound like the phantom album that followed the original "Colors" that in some alternative universe would have emerged in place of where we experienced "The Great Misdirect."

Usually i avoid so-called comeback sequels like the plague. The track record in the metal world hasn't been too positive for these perceived schemes of reviving past glories for profit's sake. Just a few failed attempts that come to mind are Queenryche's "Operation: Mindcrime II," Alice Cooper's "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" and the plethora of bands that "secretly" revisit an older style without blatantly recycling an album title, i.e. Pantera's "Reinventing The Steel" amongst many. However despite my trepidation and hesitancy to finally check out COLORS II, i'm pleasantly surprised that it surpasses any expectations and proves that BTBAM still had plenty of proggy metalcore mojo stored up from the "Colors" era which obviously needed to be expressed and finally 14 years later has come to fruition. It's also not a surprise that BTBAM has a fetish for double dipping into concept albums. After all COLORS II emerges just three years after the two album set for "Automata" and lest we forget the excellent "Parallax" EP and album set.

OK, COLORS II turns out to be no waste of time.

THE GOOD. This is yet another competent album by a band that continues to churn out one innovative and excellent progressive extreme metal album after another. The band shows no sign of burning out and COLORS II allows the unresolved extras of the original "Colors" era to finally emerge. The musicianship is top notch as always and the creativity is firing on all pistons. The band remain absolute masters of juxtaposing everything from jazz funk and polka music to straight on rock with the gnarliest metalcore there is to be heard.

THE BAD. As good as this album is, it does reek of a been here done that before vibe. It's in all regards a retro album but at least BTBAM are mining their own past and not another artist's. There's nothing substantially different from the original "Colors" to really differentiate in the bigger picture save a few new sounds and effects that pop up from time to time. COLORS II at its core is exactly what the title suggests, the second coming. Whether another dose of "Colors" is what scratches the itch or not is a personal decision really but for my tastes COLORS II passes with, well flying COLORS!

Granted almost 80 minutes is a lengthy commitment and will surely prevent many newbies from taking the plunge but for those already indoctrinated into the cult of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, this is yet another release that while not quite living up to its namesake of yore still rises to be a worthy successor.

Report this review (#2605871)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Review Permalink
A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars An amazing way to celebrate one of their classic albums - Between the Buried and Me returned in 2021 with a surprise in the face of the new album 'Colors II', a direct sequel to their 2007 classic album named 'Colors', a record that had taken the metal world by storm and is still the subject of amazement and amuse, with its technical prowess, versatility, and adventurous nature. Some fourteen years later the even more seasoned band deliver a no less intriguing, powerful, and vibrant piece of carefully curated work, precise calculations and straight-to-the-point delivery, both in terms of instrumentality and vocal performance.

'Colors II' sits beautifully among the other stellar albums released by the Raleigh, North Carolina-native band - some majestic heavy passages intertwined with their instrumental wizardry and unexpected twists and turns, warped through the band's muscular and progressive vision full of mind-melting riffs and gracious melodies. The versatility that the band is so well-known for is once again present all throughout and this album truly gives out all the ideas one might be willing to get from a BTBAM record, the band is definitely in full-power mode and the result is one of the mightiest records of the year.

It is always very difficult to take out highlights from their records, because they are usually one big piece spread across different smaller compositions. However, while keeping in mind that each piece brings its own character to the table and plays an important role in the entire image and experience of the album, among the more impressive songs one might find 'The Double Helix of Extinction', 'Revolution in Limbo', 'Fix the Error' with the quadruple drum solo, 'Never Seen/Future Shock' and 'The Future is Behind Us'. Of course, whichever your favorites might be, a fact that is undisputable is that this record is fantastic, incredibly well performed, cerebrally creative, and exquisitely adventurous - and this is why it deserves your attention!

Report this review (#2652630)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars So far I have reviewed every studio album by Between The Buried and Me. With that I think it is high time to take a look at their most recent album. This time we get another sequel on our hands. We had The Parallax II, Automata II, and Colors II. It is a trifecta of sequels. This is of course a sequel to the ever so popular Colors released 14-15 years ago. During those 14-15 years, the world had changed drastically. New presidents, a virus, isolation, protests. It was an off putting time for most of the world, for most of humanity. So which probably made the band curious on how to return to the whole concept of an album based around what makes us human due to these changing times. So as opposed to this being like a direct sequel to Colors, we get instead an album that is like a modern take of what Colors means.

The first song is called Monochrome. This may be my favorite opener this band has made, besides Mirrors. It goes from 10 to 100 in such a good stretch of time. It starts with this very nice melodic section that just evolves into this tech metal piece. The drumming and grooves just lets this song soar for me. The rest of the instruments too, especially that keyboard playing that feels very crystal clear. Something about it just really lets this song be very attuned with what the band wants to make. The song writing on this is top notch. It feels very melancholic yet relatable. It feels reminiscent back when they made the first Colors, especially the line "We've been on this same page before". They are definitely aware that they have been here before, but things are different now to how the world changed in the new decade. It's familiar but not quite, and I just love that.

Now we get into the real meaty stuff on the album and the next song is The Double Helix of Extinction. What a brilliant song. It just harkens back into that amazing sound the band has done in their first 5 albums (minus The Anatomy Of). Just an awesome progressive metalcore ensemble. Every note and riff washes over me such power and force that it all just swoops up into this giant swirling mixture of pure insanity and amazing progressions. It also gets a little weird here and there, and sometimes even Avant Garde. Again I gotta say, the song writing is just on point. It is definitely a view on industrialism and the impact it can have on the wildlife. It is such a dark song but it really works in tandem to the magnificent instrumentation. I just really adore this song.

Revolution In Limbo is up next and its themes and lyrical concepts are basically a direct continuation. This is where you can really notice them trying new things, especially the later half on this song being a bit of a classical Latin tune that kinda reminds me of those small parts in L'via L'viaquez by The Mars Volta. The rest of this song is still that same heavy goodness that is virtually inescapable. Plus it lets itself develop throughout its length. Nothing ever feels rushed even with the rush of blood I get whenever I hear those intense drummings and riffs. You also get a little bit of a reprisal of Ants Of The Sky in some parts which I think is just cute. I don't know, I just like hearing reprisals in sequels, I think it's just fun. Just another spectacular song from this band.

Alright, so, if you thought this band had a lot of genre changes, you have not heard anything yet. Fix The Error is basically an ensemble of different mixtures of genres all in one song. Freak folk metal, weird proggy synths, sludge metal, and just so much more weird stuff jammed in here, and honestly it works well. It is just some crazy, nonsensical, lunatic Prog that I just love. I feel like some Prog bands never really show off that weird aspect the genre has, and I think this song shows that you can really make a great song that is just all over the place and still make it work. Plus it would be blasphemous for me to not mention that small but so good drum solo. It's super fun, and just feels good to hear. I am not the hugest solo fan but when I hear a good solo, I just get more pumped for more stuff honestly. This song is just so fun, honestly you really gotta listen to this track because it is just a ride.

Next up is Never Seen / Future Shock. This is basically two songs as one track with Never Seen being the very heated metalcore part and Future Shock being a bit more abrasive and melodic. This dynamic really shows who BTBAM are and I love it. A band that can go from intensity to enervation in a snap. I like to take a moment to really talk about the lyrics to this song. This song feels very up for interpretation with lyrics that seem to be very out of the ordinary. I don't really know what this song means, but it seems to be how we seem to be all against one another on a day to day basis. Kinda makes sense due to the internet and its track record of people arguing over pointless things. Gotta love how this band can make mundane life feel exciting, well as exciting as arguing can be.

Stare Into The Abyss is right up next. This is like Never Seen / Future Shock but in reverse. This time the song starts with a smooth and ambient melody and then shifts to fierce riffs and grooves. As I stated before, I love this, because it really shows what BTBAM is like. The heavy parts of this song are so good and Tommy's vocals here really shine best, plus the lyrics are actually very positive. It's telling you to pick up your life and try to improve but never forget who you were. I just love when metal bands decide to make a positive statement honestly.

Prehistory is next. Back with those proggy riffs and grooves. We also see a return to the more weird stuff. As before I love that weird Prog that some bands really need. Oh yeah, this is basically just a goofy retelling of Desert of Song a little bit, especially with that "Will we be forced to sing with the fear?" line. It's a very tongue and cheek song, but still a rather enjoyable one.

Bad Habits is next. I am gonna be a broken record here, but man do I just love this style of playing. The intensity and that progression really delivers on this album. Those heavy and meaty riffs really make this song feel as extreme as it can really be which I just love.

Now I usually just do this for when I am reviewing bad albums, but I wanna do it here and instead compile 2 songs into a talking point since they all practically have the same praise and love throughout. The Future Is Behind Us, and Turbulent are just brilliantly executed proggy pieces. They explore and traverse through a lot of different feelings that it all just washes over me into these two big moments on this album that just feel so good to listen to.

Likewise, I get that very same feeling with the final track off this album, Human Is Hell (Another One With Love). There is a track before this one called Sfumato, but that is basically a small prelude track which is just fine. Now this is the real deal, the big one. This is just a ride throughout many different moods and sounds that just drip and drip through your soul. This 15+ minute epic really is just brilliant. It features some of their best riffs and chords, while also containing a lot of their best melodies. I won't say this track can rival their two other epics, Swim To The Moon and Silent Flight Parliament, but this is definitely another one of their great tracks, especially with that legendary ending. Just such a good closure for this masterpiece of an album.

This is an album worthy to be called the sequel to Colors. Colors is one of their best masterpieces, so in this day and age another one also being a masterpiece is very nice to see. Going back through these albums and reviewing them was hard, I cannot deny, but fun. I think this band really is the best metal band I have heard after listening to all their albums again. Their style is super performed and they just have this strong aura around them that I cannot help but fall in love too. Hopefully one day I can meet them in person, but until then I will still love their music until the day I die. Just a great band all around, and an amazing album too. Go check this out. If you are unsure about it because you fear it might not be as good as the original, fear not, it is just as amazing as the first Colors.

Report this review (#2782373)
Posted Saturday, August 6, 2022 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's not often I'm this on top of a new release (only three days out!), but BTBAM are one of my favorite bands. They've managed to blend death metal and metalcore with the tonal and structural language of progressive rock to forge a distinct niche for themselves.

The decision to do a sequel to their best-known album 14 years after the fact struck many (myself included) as an odd choice, but I did my best to keep an open mind. I don't pay attention to lyrics, and harsh vocals barely even register as words to me, so if you'd changed the title to something else, I doubt I'd know this was a sequel. It is undoubtedly a BTBAM album, but there's not much inherently Colors-y about it.

I'm also glad that this album was released whole, unlike the weird, two-part release of Automata. Automata works better as one unified piece, and it's a full 10 minutes shorter than Colors II. I've read some speculation that that may have been due to interference from Sumerian Records. If true, I'm glad they held back from issuing Colors 1.5 and Colors 2. (And side note--why does Sumerian Records have the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza as their logo? Couldn't they have used a ziggurat?)

This band can, at times, fall into a bit of a rut. There are a couple examples on this album of songs that sound like they were spit out by a BTBAM song generator. They're not bad, but there's nothing distinct about them. It's like a more enjoyable version of recent Dream Theater in that regard.

Colors II opens on one of the few moments where I thought, "Oh, this is like Colors!" "Monochrome" begins with a quiet piano intro, but it soon becomes something heavier, much like "Foam Born" on its predecessor. An airy synth line and delicate vocals keep the song from getting bogged down. "The Double Helix of Extinction" follows immediately, and it is one of those good-but-indistinct songs I mentioned. Yeah, it's fine, but it's just a generic BTBAM cut. There are some neat synth textures and percussion elements, but it's not enough to really elevate this track.

"Revolution in Limbo" has a more attention-grabbing opening with its rapid, technical runs, but it still has a hard time establishing itself as anything unique within BTBAM's oeuvre. In the song's second half, there's a fun, jazzy section with a vaguely Spanish feel.

"Fix the Error" was the lead single off this album, and I was not particularly taken with it at first. It works much better in the context of the album. It's gone from an underwhelming single to one of the album's highlights. I love the weird bass tone deployed here (and elsewhere on the album), and the song is as close to bright and sunny as death metal can get. The main riff channels Motörhead, and the trio of brief guest drum solos in the song's midsection is really fun. The guitar solo is another place where there were some obvious allusions to Colors, but it feels natural and purposeful.

"Never Seen/Future Sight" complements "Fix the Error" wonderfully, and I'm especially fond of both the bass work and the various keyboard tones. About two minutes in, there's a really strange bit full of flutes, acoustic guitars, and simple percussion which almost sounds like it could have been the music for some seaside town in a Pokémon game. The song's ending is fairly quiet and subdued, and it's a much appreciated bit of breathing room.

Following this is a pair of short tracks: "Stare into the Abyss" and "Prehistory". The former gives some vague echoes of Dream Theater with its quiet intro building to a big, grandiose moment; and the latter sounds like an (excellent) outtake from Coma Ecliptic crossed with "Bloom". These two cuts are relatively brief, but they work excellently. "Prehistory", in particular, is one of my favorite songs on the album with its overall weirdness.

"Bad Habits" opens with some Mike Oldfield-y organ-and-acoustic-guitar lines contrasted against the band's usual prog metal bombast. This is better than either of the above-mentioned generic BTBAM songs, but it does fall in that general realm. It's got its moments, but this nearly-nine-minute song could have been trimmed a good bit.

Following this is another high point, "The Future Is Behind Us". It has a very '80s intro with plonking synth patterns, weird, skittering flourishes of clean guitar, and an engagingly off-kilter main riff. This song is full of fun, wonky licks, and there's even a brief sample of Yello's "Oh Yeah". BTBAM's best moments are when they go all-in on oddness.

The vague '80s-ness of the preceding song's opening is continued on "Turbulent". The intro is distantly reminiscent of synthwave (a genre I can only handle in very, very small doses), and it serves the composition well. There's a build to a grand majesty for this song which leans ever-so-lightly into '80s cheese. It's a subtle hint: enough to grab attention but not enough to be distracting or act as a crutch.

"Sfumato" is a short instrumental evocative of The Division Bell and acts as an intro to the closing epic, "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)". This opus's opening once again hints at (but does not lean upon) Colors, and sizzling synthesizers add great contrast. It's instantly attention-grabbing, and it makes this song feel like an epic conclusion. About six minutes in, there's a fun surf-rock inclusion which acts as a nice little break. This song features some of the best integrations of keyboards into BTBAM's music in their whole catalog, and the closing minutes are fittingly dramatic.

Colors II is a long listen, and it has a lot of really strong cuts. By the time you reach the end, you've almost forgotten about the underwhelming opening. However, those first 20-ish minutes probably could have been trimmed down a bit, and there are other brief passages throughout which could have done with some editing. BTBAM are best when they lean into weirdness and weakest when they just blast away as vaguely-proggy metalcore. Thankfully, this album has more of the former, but the latter does hamper this record a bit. 

My initial assessment of this album was "pretty good," and after a couple listens, it hasn't budged. The weak parts are more bland than bad, and there are strong cuts a-plenty. It's not a perfect record, but it's definitely worth your time if you're a fan.

Review originally posted here:

Report this review (#2904514)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Review Permalink

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