Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic

Pic by Justin Reich

Pic by Justin Reich


It is tempting to call the Between the Buried and Me music a kaleidoscope of sonic and inventive hues yet that suggests a randomness which certainly does not apply to their persistently compelling and dramatic explorations. In saying that though, there is an organic unpredictability which seemingly evolves on its own so that at times you wonder if the band knows what is to emerge any more than the listener. And so it is with their seventh album Coma Ecliptic, a series of gloriously imaginative plains of roaming sounds and immersive textures which whether a BTBAM fan or not is seriously compelling, that together create an epic emprise of aural fascination which is either creative ingenuity or insanity.

It is easy to see Coma Ecliptic splitting opinions though hard to imagine many dismissing its technically immense, musically explosive, and rivetingly captivating journey out of hand. Equally the reference to it being like a rock opera does it no favours, certainly with those like us instantly cringing at the thought and term, but assumptions should be cast aside as, even though there are indeed moments of indulgences and flamboyant enterprise, the concept album is bred from the same template of musical and lyrical probing that made previous release The Parallax II: Future Sequence so bewitching and thrilling. It is a whole new beast of course bred from the similar seeding which unites all the band’s releases, but BTBAM doing what they do best, tearing up their own rulebook with zeal and tenacity.

Lyrically Coma Ecliptic follows a single protagonist who stuck in a coma travels through his past lives, each track an individual episode set in “a modern day, sort of The Twilight Zone-esque” world. In each place he can choose to stay or move on to search for a better place, ultimately being met with the ultimate question life or death. The rest is for you to find out but in true BTBAM fashion, the lyrical side of the album is as involved and time consuming to reap its full rewards as the music. There are a few things to pull Coma Ecliptic up on, if you wish to be over analytical and demanding, but like the best sci-fi/fantasy movie, run with its liberties and proposition rounding flaws, and unbridled pleasure through full-blooded adventure are the rich prize.

Cover_RingMaster Review     Opener Node cups ears in a gentle yet emotive touch of keys, Tommy Rogers’ fingers and voice swiftly stroking ears and imagination even before melodies broaden and their elegance mesmerises. The melancholic air of the song has its own ethereal light and hope, album and band immersing the listener into the realm of album and story with sublime ease, even adding Queen-esque flames of epic tones and sonic grandeur to striking effect. It is a potently enticing start which slips into the theatrical and magnetic embrace of The Coma Machine. Many have compared the album and some of its textures and flavours to bands like Dream Theater yet aside from the unavoidable uniqueness of BTBAM, here and often across the album Australian progressive metallers Voyager nudge thoughts. The track ebbs and flow in energy and rousing intensity as it explores its and the story’s depths, and is just as enthralling as it writhes with majestic imagination, whether in a gentle hug of a croon or roaring with aggression and passion.

Dim Ignition emerges from an electro bubble next, synths a lively and nagging simmer within drummer Blake Richardson’s increasingly intimidating rhythms. The song flows into the immediately darker hued Famine Wolf, portentous and ever gripping bass tempting from Dan Briggs alongside just as shadowed keys, their haunting smothering consuming the senses for the ever spellbinding craft and invention of guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring to exploit and shape further. The track’s early predator like union grows from one relatively inviting premise to a volatile incitement, with Rogers vocally entwining his superb clean and just as impacting raw metalcore seeded deliveries to match the sounds. The track is thoroughly absorbing, even making its less than seamless slip into a jazzy, psych rock like twist work perfectly and never relenting in making every minute unique from another.

As outstanding as it is though, King Redeem / Queen Serene steals the show, growing from the departing breath of its predecessor into a tempest of pop, funk, melodic revelry, and ravenous metal ferocity; every aspect fuelled by a contagiousness which simply intensifies with every elevation of aggression and invention. Imagine spilling the essences of Periphery, Society 1, and Cardiacs into the BTBAM mix and you get something close to this exhilarating encounter.

Both the imposing Turn on the Darkness and fascinating The Ectopic Stroll keep the fires of serious enjoyment burning, the first at times bordering on the bestial as its landscape savages as siren like seduction joins in equal creative measure. Its successor explores a dance seeded gait and scenery, piano keys a punchy spark to the tenaciously evolving avant-garde landscape, and both songs, but especially the second, tempestuous weaves of expansive flavours, styles, and bold intent sculpted by musicians openly at the top of their game and imagination.

     Rapid Calm brings a spatial yet melodically and emotionally intimate proposal forward next with mellow vocals, harmonies, and keys the warm serenade to the carnivorous walls and depths soaked in challenging intensity lurking and eventually exploding from deep within. Bewitching hardly does the song justice but that is what it is as it wraps its mesmeric and often rabid charms around ears and thoughts. Coma Ecliptic is undoubtedly an album which challenges and involves both aspects with every second, it shown again with Memory Palace and after that Option Oblivion. The first of the pair is soaked in blues and funk rock resourcefulness, a folkish festivity also getting in on the persuasion as the song traverses through ten minutes of instinctive and virulent creative alchemy whilst the second is like looking into a fire, every flame of sound distinct to another yet perfectly aligned in one senses sizzling incitement.

Coma Ecliptic is completed by the emotionally rousing Life in Velvet, another fusing intimacy with grander winds to fine effect. The intoxicating Jamie King produced album leaves the richest hunger to hear and learn more, which is lucky as like their other encounters, it is a proposition which needs numerous plays to really get into its constantly revolving corners and levels, our words above barely scratching its surface let alone depths to be truthful.

The best album from Between the Buried and Me to date?…Well it has to be seriously considered and argued over but there is no denying this is another major success and thrill from the band which their fans will get lustful over and others will at least offer a thick complimentary smile or nod.

Coma Ecliptic is available now on Metal Blade Records @

RingMaster 14/07/2015

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Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II- Future Sequence

By JustinReich

With a fair few number of quite stunning releases this year choosing the Best Of Year album was destined to prove something near on impossible but North Carolina metallers Between The Buried and Me have just made it a very simple decision with the unleashing of their intoxicating and immense The Parallax II- Future Sequence. The band has never settled into anything less than being wholly imaginative with an ongoing exploration of their experimental sound and ideas to stretch the limits of metal and rock. Arguably they have found variations of success for some though never offering anything less than compulsive and intriguing listening but it is probably fair to say previous album The Great Misdirect left many unsure if their acclaimed Colors was to be the band at their finest hour. The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP suggested maybe not, though as impressive as it was in hindsight it was a mere whisper of what was to come with this stunning and glorious new album.

The release continues the story of two characters, Prospect I and Prospect II, who live in different planes of existence separated by millions of light years, each in ignorance of the other yet confronting similar personal issues and intrinsically connected by a shared soul, which ultimately brings them together. Vocalist Tommy Rogers explains more… Both men exist in isolation, one because he runs away from the life that is his and the other when he leaves his dying planet in the hope of creating new life elsewhere, through the planting of souls. As the story progresses you realize they are actually the same person, and at the end of the journey they’re responsible for destroying all life as they know it, reinforcing the idea that humanity is a destructive species, and that there’s some kind of innate flaw about us that causes us to destroy everything we touch.”

Every second of the album, is a feast of drama, unpredictability, and the richest of craft and musical adventure possible, not to mention aural poetry to saturate the emotions and senses with beauty and inspiring imagination. The Parallax II: Future Sequence is an evolving beast along its expansive journey and individual epic soundscapes, no matter their lengths. The concept of the story is vast and open to personal reflection and connection but each song can also stand alone just as powerfully and impressively too. The real adventure and experience comes from taking the journey in its complete form from the opening Goodbye To Everything to its final reprise to end it all. With simple guitar and imperious harmonies the first track lifts one up on a cloud of melodic warmth to begin the passage of emotive enterprise. Its ambience builds as shadowed skies wrap around the impending flight of the album and narrative. It instantly transform into the incendiary presence of Astral Bodies, a track which is pure glory in sound, invention, and presence. As the guitars of Dustie Waring and Paul Waggoner send spears and shards of sonic mastery across its skies, the vocals of Rogers, clean and growling, fire up the engines of adventure, aided by the barracking rhythms of drummer Blake Richardson and prowling lines of bassist Dan Briggs. The song is perpetually growling and snapping at the ear or caressing it into a mesmeric bliss, very often both at the same time such the quality of songwriting and its realisation.

It is a stunning start matched by the following aggressive and pulsating Lay Your Ghosts To Rest. The track immediately snaps the head back like a man trap taking its bite, the corrosive energies and thumping riffs and beats a vicious confrontation. The flaying riffs continue to do damage whilst the melodic fires scorch the flesh but suddenly things drop into a hypnotic and mellow melodic kiss on the ear, the vocals and keys offering dare one say moments of Yes like tones before bursting into sonic flames of beautifully structured elegance and further brutal bruising. The whole thing is breathtaking and across its ten minutes leaves the jaws of adoration and inspiration open wide.

As the album as a whole, the track is continually shifting and evolving so that it is impossible to clearly represent what is on offer in words, only one to one attention can do that. The outstanding and extraordinary Extremophile Elite and the equally staggering Telos, with their infectious and driven passion raise the temperature further. The latter is a furious tempest of relentlessly rampaging riffs and an intensity which smothers with harsh shadows until allowing rays of sonic majesty to light up its corners midway.

The highest peak of the album comes with the quite brilliant Bloom, a ten out of ten composition and a towering piece of genius. It can only be described as 6:33 meets Faith No More in a jazz club with 12 Stone Toddler, the burlesque carnivale like aural tease a magnetic en suite of progressive mischief and imagination seamlessly and organically placed within the dramatic flight of the album.

There is so much more to tell and hear within The Parallax II- Future Sequence but that is for you to find out. Produced by Between the Buried and Me alongside Jamie King and released through Metal Blade Records, this is one quite simply magnificent album you really do need to share your time with.

RingMaster 08/10/2102

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