Release DetailsLABEL Victory
RELEASED ON 6/13/2006
Between the Buried and Me
The Anatomy Of
Ah, the cover album. Unless you’re Metallica, whose Garage Days seem to be their only good days, an album full of other people’s songs is a proposition usually met enthusiastically by only the rabid fan. Kudos to Between the Buried and Me for tackling confidently a wide range of styles and acknowledging that musicians’ influences are typically much more broad than one would predict, and way beyond what their audience may consider to be cool. It takes some stones to offer up covers by the likes of Depeche Mode and Counting Crows, and it’s good to see a band unapologetically embrace wholly non-metal and terminally un-cool music. I applaud the sentiment. I just don’t want to listen to it. Play covers live, tack ‘em onto the end of an album, or just plug your set of influences in liner notes and interviews. Whatever it takes. But seventy minutes of what turns out to be almost entirely loyal covers is just no fun for anyone—except for the fan club and the band. Which is probably good enough for them--the rest of us will just sit this one out.
Just why someone would want to hear the very talented BTBAM waste time on dumb-rock like Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” is mind boggling. And here’s an idea: actually picking a good Crue song from one of their first couple albums—you know, before they became little sister-friendly pop rock. Technically, there’s usually not much to complain about. As with the majority of the songs, the band runs through “Kickstart” like competent karaoke. Aside from the awkward background “Whoah”s and “Yeah”s, it sounds like Motley Crue played by someone other than Motley Crue. That do anything for you? It would have been nice to hear the band use more rearrangements, as it would seem that they’d be well suited to totally deconstruct some of these songs and rebuild them into something with new life. Maybe that’s not the purpose of this exercise. But too often, the band simply runs through the material as is, doing little to put their stamp on the version. It’s rarely bad—just more like Between the Mundane and the Who Gives a Shit. And on the occasions they do go out on a limb a little, it typically detracts from the song. The vocals on “The Day I Tried to Live” render the song skip-worthy. Song selection is again questionable, as they’ve chosen a very middle of the road song from what’s easily the worst effort from the magnificent Soundgarden. But the toughest version to swallow is of Pantera’s “Cemetary Gates”, where the band manages to make chest-thumping metal sound like a college date party playing cover band. Vocals are often the weakest link. It’s not that they’re actually poor, just that the band has chosen to cover lots of bands with highly talented and/or distinctive frontmen, and although the vocals show a lot of stylistic range, they usually pale next to the originals. The times they don’t, the band really hits on all cylinders. “Geek USA” is a good and less obvious choice from Smashing Pumpkins’ fantastic Siamese Dream, and Billy Corgan ain’t easy to cover. The left field inclusion of King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair” is one of the best moments of the collection. Likewise, the band does a good job at their loyal rendition of Faith No More’s “Malpractice” from the monstrous Angel Dust.
The heavy end of the playlist is made up of covers from Metallica (“Blackened”) and Sepultura (“Territory”), while the lighter fare includes stuff from Blind Melon (“Change”), the bonus track of Counting Crow’s “Colorblind”, and in a more interesting choice, Depeche Mode’s “Little 15” from 1987's Music For the Masses. Tommy Rogers doesn’t have the measure of David Gahan vocally, but hangs in there, and the guitar flourishes are a nice added touch. “Us and Them” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon works well, but Queen’s “Bicycle Race” is more of a just because you can doesn’t mean you should kind of thing. Look, taken one track at a time, or even in short doses of two or three, most of The Anatomy Of is competent, if rather plain, cover music. The album’s greatest flaws are that once you get past the tracklist, there aren’t many surprises in the material, and it’s simply too long as a collection of mostly loyal covers. I already own all but two of these songs in their original form, and as a listener, I found myself caring more about the songs themselves and less about the band playing them. A good cover makes you focus on both. I respect Between The Buried and Me as a talented band that has something to offer, but this collection is purely for the devout and the musically inexperienced (at least as far as this material goes). The rest of you should approach this with caution, or just wait for the follow up to Alaska.
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