If you’ve read any of my prior reviews, you know that prog-metal is my bread and butter. It’s the life force that flows through my veins. It is what makes the gears turn. And if you haven’t read one of my prior reviews, you need to examine your priorities. Seriously, get your shit together. But I digress and promise to put my ego in check going forward. Anyway, if you’re like me, waiting almost three years for a new BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME record is a bit harsh. I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere close to the pain of waiting for TOOL to get off their ass and produce new tunes, but it’s pretty bad, just the same.
Well, rest easy friends; the wait is over. Not only do we get a new BTBAM record this year, we get two! That’s right. The quintet has decided to put out a double album; and I was delighted to hear the first part before its release. Automata I is out now via Sumerian Records, with part two to be released this summer. As with their last slew of discs, this is also a concept record, discussing the idea of a world in which dreams are broadcast as entertainment for the masses. Think Inception meets Fahrenheit 451.
Things start off with acoustic guitars playing an enigmatic arpeggio pattern, which is soon joined by keys and the robotic echo of the song’s title, “Condemned to the Gallows”, playing out like a warning of the monstrosity to follow. From there things take off; distorted power chords underlay a harrowing keyboard melody, into a digitized break before the combustion of chugging guitars and retching vocals. “House Organ” is led by a droning guitar section, allowing the remaining instruments to lay down atmospheric pieces around it before breaking into a grand build up, leading to “Yellow Eyes”. The third track is more reminiscent of the traditional sounds employed by the group, with more angular riffing and several intricate instrumental breaks.
The second half of the disc starts on a more haunting note, with the cold clashing of melodies on “Millions”. The second half of the song dials up the heat, with weighty guitars and an athematic guitar lead at the apex of the song. After the noise track “Gold Distance”, the band starts their final song on a quiet note before blasting the cap off with a tight, swirling lead riff over cascading low chords. The ten–minute opus thrashes, ebbs, and flows, moving from scathingly harsh to breathtakingly epic.
Truly the masters of all that is abstract, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME continue to astound with their latest concept. It’s dark, intriguing, and aggressively thought provoking; thus a fitting entry to the group’s expansive catalog. My only concern though, is the length of this entry; clocking in at around 35 minutes, I am left to wonder how the second installment of the concept will pan out. Being a double record, I question whether all parts of the album could fit on one disc? I guess I’ll find out when Automata II is released this summer. However, for now, I can feast on part 1, graciously. Be sure grab your copy, you need it. Thank me later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: All but “Gold Distance”