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Monday, May 16, 2011

Album Review: Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues by Devin Walsh
2011 Metal Blade Records
Devin Walsh

Between the Buried and Me always knows how to bring the heaviness, and their latest release, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is no exception. Although it is only a three song EP, there is plenty of aggression and metal to make up for the lack of tracks. Plus, the three tracks make up 30 minutes of metal genius.

The album starts off with the track “Specular Reflection” which has one of the eeriest and most anticipatory intros I have ever heard. There is a basic low end piano part that is eventually accompanied by a higher piano part mixed with some chorus “Aaahs” and low end brass that make me feel like I am about to enter the world of the most insane horror movie. After the brief intro, the song kicks into high gear with very in-your-face drumming and guitar riffing that are matched with some intense screams. The song continues on like a relentless juggernaut, not giving you a second to breathe. These guys always go all-out with their songs and aggression and I feel this track is a great way to break you into the album. There are some brief interlude breaks that are still heavy, but offer a slight change of pace. Once they throw you off balance with these breaks, it’s right back to smashing your face.

The song breaks into a brief clean vocal section followed by a real progressive verse that is lead mainly by the bass guitar. The song quickly transitions into more dancing guitar work accompanied by heavy ass screams with intermittent clean vocals. This track is so good because the heavy elements alone are killer and enough to kick your ass. However, what I really dig is the band's ability to seamlessly transition into parts that cannot easily be executed, as they are so progressive and different, yet they flow brilliantly. Around the six minute mark the song segues into a Tool-esque part with a tribal type drum beat over some hypnotic clean vocals that make you feel like you are on a mind trip.

Some of their “lighter” parts are so good you almost forget this is the same band that just kicked your ass across the room. I really like the guitar work on the latter half of this track as it showcases more skill and technical song writing. Once again the song moves to a sort of almost Dream Theater breakdown that has staccato guitar and drums with brief piano parts woven in-between. And then once again they segue brilliantly into another aggressive riff with heavy vocals. The more I hear this, the more it really reminds me of the band Dog Fashioned Disco, who in my opinion, are very underrated. The song then proceeds into a strange break with a constant moving drum beat, but there are some off-time bass slides and guitar work that add a very chaotic element while remaining crisp and clean. The guitar work picks up with some great fretwork as the bass and drums stick together while the guitar leads are all over the place and remaining fluent. Finally around the 10 minute mark the song moves back into the cleaner chorus part that moves this opus to a smooth close. One song down and my brain feels like I just endured an insane journey that takes some bands an entire album to do.

The end of the previous song segues very smoothly into the next track, “Augment of Rebirth.” The song starts off with their classic heavy vocals and intense drumming and guitar work that immediately get your head moving. The track moves into a really cool part with very fast drum work played along with a smooth bass line that all transitions effortlessly into a fast-paced aggressive verse. After even several listens of this track, I keep noticing new little things going on in the background that keep it fresh and innovative. These guys are masters of having heavy, fast- paced parts going on with slower and more open verses simultaneously. Just like the first track, this one is all over the place, but in a good and successful way again. I find it almost exhausting to listen to this as I truly feel like I’m being lead on an intense, twisting and turning adventure.

Eventually the song moves into another tribal-sounding drum section that has guitars moving well overtop as it transitions into more aggressive and intense screaming and fast playing drums. There is also some great lead guitar work around the five minute mark as the solo fits the vibe so well and adds a nice break from all of the chaos. Out of chaos comes order, and then back into chaos. The next section has some incredible technical guitar and bass work which moves into an almost funny sounding interlude. The interlude has a real “oompah” sound to it due to the accents and sounds like some eastern European folk song. I love it. I never saw it coming, but I also didn’t not expect it.

At the risk of repeating myself, these guys are so good at moving all over the place in the same song, but it just fits so perfectly and you don’t even consciously notice the transitions – it’s just so damned smooth. As with the previous song, there are some great bass guitar driven parts that have some nice textured guitars overtop to add to the atmosphere. Finally at almost nine minutes, the guys break into a little slower-paced part that has clean vocals and lets your head come back to earth after being rocketed into the stratosphere at lightspeed. Just when you finally catch your breath again, the song wraps up with some great heavy technical skills that really encapsulate all that these guys can do.

The final track is “Lunar Wilderness” and starts off with some ambient cymbal work and clean guitars that move right into another bass-driven verse. The bass work is not something you hear every day in other death metal type bands, but then again Between the Buried and Me are not just another death metal band – they are that and a bag of chips. The real smooth bass-driven verse leads into a heavy guitar part that still maintains great bass work going on in the background. This all segues smoothly into clean vocals that immediately jump to heavy screams, all the while still having great bass work woven in with technical guitar skills. The song quiets down once again as there is some incredible clean guitar sweeping going on that is played flawlessly. This fantastic guitar work moves onto heavy technical guitar work without a hitch. These guys are so good at letting you calm down for just the right amount of time right before kicking you in the ass and sending you back into chaos. The song continues to a close with more brilliant bass guitar work and technical guitar playing.

The album is now over, and as I said before, I feel exhausted. I will admit, I’ve always known about Between the Buried and Me and I have heard their stuff before, but never really to this extent. I am blown away and am pleasantly surprised. I really can’t say enough about the musical journey I was just taken on. Where do I start? The heavy ass vocals and guitars? The technical and proficient guitar work? The incredible bass? I just don’t know. What I can say is that this was an awesome listen and I am really glad to have had the chance to review this. It looks like it’s time for me to delve into the catalogue of Between the Buried and Me and really get acquainted with them because after just this one record, I can call myself a fan!

Rating: ****1/2


Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

As anyone who's read me over the years know, I'm a huge supporter of this band. Their whole catalog comes well-recommended, but I suggest beginning with Colors then hit Alaska. After you've soaked up those brilliant albums, hit The Anatomy Of cover album to show how deep and well-versed this band is. Their Floyd cover is exquisite. Then go back and hit the beginning era and finally The Great Misdirect to round out the big picture. Above all, Devin, enjoy your journey. :)

Devin said...

I'm embarking now! thanks