Album Review: The Parallax II: Future Sequence by Between the Buried and Me
Posted by RiffRaff
After breaking through with 2007’s Colors, Between the Buried and Me have become a household name in the realm of progressive metal. Their unique blend of chaotic deathcore, beautiful musical passages, and high technical proficiency was a breath of fresh air in the genre. For all they did right with their music there was one big downside to listening to them. They would write these gigantic and dense albums, but in the end there was one thing I really took from each of their songs. There was a specific moment or passage that drew me to a specific track and the music in between was just OK to good filler. That solo in “Disease, Injury, Madness”, the sweeps in “Selkies”, the breakdown in “White Walls”, and so on all stood out more to me than the track itself. Given that there were other moments within those tracks that grabbed me, less often did a song from front to finish engage me in its flow. When all these separate moments were put together in the context of an album they worked and delivered pleasing listens. But for as much as I love their previous works, I have to be honest and say there was much room for improvement, especially in the ‘flow’ department and too much focus put on those ‘big moments’. I guess I wasn’t the only person to really notice this, as on BTBAM’s new album, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, the veteran progsters looked at their faults and improved on them tenfold.
Since Parallax II is written as one long singular song instead separate tunes I feel the need to bring up their record Colors which took the same route. Yes, in Colors each song flowed into the next by way of some excellently executed transitions, but with that album you could easily point out where each song began and ended slightly pulling you out of the whole seamlessness of the album. On Parallax II they take the ‘one long song’ route yet again taking note of the flaws of how Colors wasn’t as seamless as they boasted it to be. From the moment Parallax II starts up you will be able to pinpoint a song transition only a few times and they could be easily be mistaken for a natural movement shift within a song. Having this kind of flow really benefits the record as it leads to the music having a less jarring nature that BTBAM have been called out for in the past.
But being a band that highly succeeds at creating moments they can’t abandon what they do best. Going back and listening to earlier BTBAM works, I found myself enjoying the music in between the big moments, but always felt that the filler could be much more engaging. On Parallax II instead of writing better ‘filler’ while you wait for the transcendental solo, breakdown, goofy yet cool instrumental, etc. they more or less nixed the ‘in between’ leaving ‘all killer no filler’ (well mostly no filler). Each part of song carries its own memorable characteristics while, through technicality and mood, it flows right into the next memorable part. So as you see, this structure method plays into the whole seamless flow the band wished to obtain as well as dealing with the bands weaker points.
A great example of all this is a tune called “Bloom”. Being one of the shortest songs on the record clocking in at 3:29 it is one of the most musically dense tracks on the album, also the most fun. It starts off as one of the more clear song changes on the album after the massive “Telos” bombards you aural senses and dives right in with a fast paced, sci-fi sounding, pulsing keyboard intro. When listening pay attention to the rhythm of the keyboards as it transitions into a jazzy, Mr. Bungle-like vocal section packed with proggy leads and quick bouts of heaviness which leads into the guitars picking up where the keyboards started at the beginning that quickly morph into a keyboard and guitar combo playing “Wipe Out”. Making minor tweaks to some tones and the addition of Tommy Rodger’s abrasive vocals meld everything together smoothly flipping between surf rock and deathcore. The end result is just a blast to listen to and proves how BTBAM now mastered flowing their moments together without nary a jarring feeling. All of the musical themes established on “Bloom” flow right into the next track, “Melting City”, as that track morphs the “Bloom” themes into its own while setting up the themes for the following tune, “Silent Flight Parliament”, at the same time. Stuff like this occurs non-stop throughout the album. Like a great triple distilled Irish whisky, it all goes down smooth, has a delicious complex flavor, and your left with a complete, satisfied feeling at the end.
I do have to say that this is a very dense record that will need multiple listens before everything really starts opening up. My first few spins were overwhelming only really catching a good handful of great moments before the album started to open up as I got used to the songs. But, when this album reveals itself to you it will come with full force and leave you with your jaw on the floor as each moment flows into the next pummeling you with ferocity, intelligence, beauty all at once.
While some may be turned off by the denseness of the record and its less than usual amount of crazy guitar solos and ‘sweeps’, those who persevere and really delve into the album will be greatly rewarded with a modern masterpiece. Would I go as far as to say this is the best BTBAM record yet? Yes. Yes I would. Going on about my 10th playthrough as I write up this closing, hearing this album really made me realize where BTBAM have stumbled in the past and how they improved immensely on those faults. There’s so much to enjoy in this album. It has heart, passion, musicianship, flow, great moments, and all those other great positive words one uses to describe a record favorably. If you found yourself having trouble getting into BTBAM in the past, I highly suggest giving this album a good listen, they just might be able to reel you in. If you’re already a BTBAM fan, I’m sure you already know that you’re in for a nice treat.
I also suggest listening to Parallax II‘s companion E.P. The Parallax I: The Hypersleep Dialogues in tandem with this album. They both are part of a singular narrative/concept of multiple worlds, parallel universes, creation, and god. It is all very interesting and complex, and fits the music quite well. There are also musical themes that carry over from the E.P. to the album and having previous knowledge of them enhances the listening of Parallax II more. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
About RiffRaffJust takin' it easy for all you sinners.
Posted on October 10, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged Album Reviews, Between the Buried and Me, BTBAM, Deathcore, metal, Metal Reviews, Music, Parallax II: Future Sequence, Progressive Metal. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.