Between the Buried and Me
posted on 8/2005 By:
Alright, here it goes.
Anyone who's read any of my reviews knows how much I hate albums that overstay their welcome. Needless to say, when I saw the playing time of 53 minutes, I could already start to feel my blood boil beneath my skin. Adding insult to injury, this is the first time I've ever heard Between The Buried And Me, thus giving me the chance to create an entirely objective review.
Now I'm not going to do this in my typical format. Introduction, touch on some production faults, talk about the parts that stand out, blah, blah, blah. No, I'm just going to write this out as it comes to me.
So what's my problem with Alaska? I suppose I could make some stupid joke about oil prices here, but no, I'm going to tell you. I'm going to tell you the exact fucking problem I have with this album.
This music is full of shit.
There it is! I said it! It's full of shit! It's a bunch of random riffs strung together with little concern for cohesion. The riffs themselves? Fucking fantastic all across the board. Really, they're armed to the teeth with talent, these guys. They could play absolutely anything and they can write some brilliant riffs. Their viking rip-off parts sound great, their stupid Opeth crap sounds great, their technical death metal sounds great, their lame vocorder sounds...well, lame, but still, on "Selkies: The Endless Obsession," the last three minutes sound like the rejected theme to Quantum Leap or McGyver. So they're alright in my book as far as that goes.
So why doesn't it all sound great? Because you can't put all that shit together and expect to have a great result. It's like saying, "Wow, you know what? I love American cheese. And gin! And crab dip! I also love chocolate, too! Come to think of it, I like sniffing Sharpie markers as well!" So there you are, that's how it happens. You're writing your wanky inaccessible garbage music, eating/drinking your cheesy-chocolate-crab dip gin, and sniffing markers like a goddamned fool.
Now I know a lot of you stupid asshole musicians out there won't care about the fact that they suck shit at writing a song because all you people care about are fast and dextrous riffing, but get your fat Dream Theatre-loving head out of your ass and wake up. Music is not about how may nights you've spent in your parent's basement practicing scales, it's how well you're able to accomplish what you've set out to do musically.
So have BTBAM done that on Alaska? Perhaps, if their mission was to write a "challenging" album. You know what? Fuck that term, really. What the hell is that supposed to mean? You want to know what it means? It means it fucking sucks to the point that you have to listen to it thirty times before you can even begin to remember a twenty second block of music and truly "appreciate" it.
Add to that the fact that the main vocals you hear on the album are the most monotone sound known to man and you have yourself a case of FYM. Fuck y'all motherfuckers.
Seriously, I can't listen to something so aimless. It's like watching some naked guy with a giant penis walk around in a dark room with multiple naked women on one end and exposed electrical wires on the other. Yet somehow the idiot walks into a wall, gets knocked out and pisses himself, turning something that could've been exciting into something aggravating and embittering for the witness to the spectacle.
That's it, I'm done with this. Someone let me know when these guys decide to start writing with intent.
posted on 8/2005 By:
A Bronx Tale opined that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” and here’s some damn good proof. Between The Buried And Me have experienced quite the meteoric ascent over the course of their short career; from ashes of the mighty Prayer for Cleansing to their current banner slot on Victory, the band have been media darlings from day one. Unfortunately, it seems that the quality of their material has varied inversely with their popularity. S/T was a paragon of disorganized but insanely promising metalcore, but The Silent Circus’s directionless genre-stacking was a marked regression, and unfortunately Alaska continues the descent into mediocrity. The good news here is that the band seem to have settled on an identifiable sound—specifically, a blend of their familiar The Red Chord-esque deathcore and progressive power metal—and that their individual performances are as technically dominating as ever, with Tommy Rogers’ multifaceted vocal work being particularly impressive. The bad news is that while Between the Buried and Me have retained their knack for writing stupidly catchy melodies (see “The Primer” or the chorus of “All Bodies” for proof), the bulk of their songwriting has become even more boring and aimless than it was on their previous album. The problem isn’t a lack of concept or technique but of emotion; their extensive death metal segments chug and squeal with the best of them, but they are devoid of a certain elemental sincerity and are thus rendered sterile and largely boring. This type of metalcore has long since lost its novelty as an intellectual exercise, and simply going through the motions of guttural anger won’t cut it against competition like the aforementioned TRC and Embrace the End. In essence, Between the Buried and Me sound like machines sent to do a man’s job, and their dispassionate noodling and flaccid songwriting ultimately undo them.
posted on 8/2005 By:
Alaska, the third release from North Carolina's Between the Buried and Me, simultaneously boasts all that is frustrating and promising about this still young band. While, consistently demonstrative of the band's technical prowess and fearlessness, it also suffers from a general disconnection from what solid songwriting is all about.
Having always been a band that is more about great parts, than great songs, Alaska is filled to the brim with supremely evocative riffs and leads. The melodic intro to "Alaska", the serpentine but accessible main riff of "Selkies: The Endless Obsession", along with the subsequent guitar solo, and the occasional emotional clean singing parts offered by Tommy Rogers are the moments that make every BTBAM release worth hearing. However, it's the extended lack of structural integrity throughout Alaska's one-hour run time that make me question whether or not this album is really worth owning.
I can't deny my overall enjoyment of this release, despite the recurring urges to reach for the remote and fast forward to the really good parts. Because, trust me, there are some really good parts on this album. Unfortunately, really good songs are slightly harder to come by.
A flawed but ambitious release, that proves a flurry of great moments doesn't always add up to a great album.
posted on 9/2005 By:
Further cementing their position as the premier mathcore outfit, North Carolina’s Between The Buried And Me return with their third (the second on the Victory Records imprint) pivotal effort Alaska. With a seemingly infinite arsenal of technical agility, the Charlotte quintet churn chaotic rumblings that are as equally captivating as they are incapacitating. By employing an intelligently calculated songwriting system that is supported by an eclectic collection of influences from an array of genres, Between The Buried And Me have become an unpredictable and untouchable entity that is not only its own, but the only of its kind. Continuing their experimental evolution, Alaska is the next logical level in an already mesmerizing line of innovation.
While their 2002 self-titled genesis was essentially a full-fledged deathcore aural ambush, amid the mosh pummelings were a handful of lighter accents that allowed the album (and the listener) to breathe momentarily. On the widely acclaimed The Silent Circus, the band incorporated more of these toned down passages to their unobstructed sonic savagery, producing a hard to classify genre-blurring masterpiece. A couple of years and a wealth of experience later, Between The Buried And Me are showing significant growth as musicians as well as songsmiths. Each member working with and against each other for and in the spotlight is how such catastrophically beautiful compositions as these eleven epic tracks manifest.
A cohesive collection of individual riffs and phrases, Alaska’s structureless configuration conforms to no traditional songwriting design. What some (the same who are in search of instantly gratifying straightforwardness) would deem as aimless wankery without regulation, others may consider to be fragments of a much larger enigmatic picture that takes time to fully digest and appreciate. With music that is as atmospheric as it is dynamic, Alaska expands every dimension of The Silent Circus by a degree of no less than tenfold. From the blast beaten hyper-thrash path traveled on the first part of “Roboturner”, to tranquil delay driven instrumental interludes like “Breathe In, Breathe Out” and “Medicine Wheel” that occasionally reverberate throughout the album's fifty plus minutes, Between The Buried And Me withhold no musical emotion. The devastating title track is technical and brutal enough to impress as well as maybe slightly intimidate Cryptopsy or Capharnaum, while “Selkies: The Endless Obsession” and “Backwards Marathon” are far finer examples of psychedelic death progression than any of the songs on Opeth’s latest offering.
When you’re unbound by categorical strings the possibilities are endless, and Between The Buried And Me manage to raise the bar once again with this staggering package. If there was ever a doubt that they could match the intensity and quality of The Silent Circus, you’re in for a shock. Alaska is not only the band’s most complete work to date (if not ever), but unquestionably the pinnacle of all metalcore divisions. Upping the ante from The Silent Circus, Between The Buried And Me are a sure bet in a high stakes game. For fans of the genre and admirers of limitless technical prowess, now is the perfect time of year to visit Alaska.
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