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

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Between the Buried and Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Metal Blade

Space. Space. Glorious space. Spaaaaaaaaaace. The subject of the moment, within rock and metal circles at least. Not too long ago I praised Krallice’s ‘Years Past Matter’ for its space-tinged black metal attack towards and beyond the stars. Between the Buried and Me, continuing on from ‘The Parallax I: Hypersleep Dialogues’, are more conceptual in their approach, but gaze at the stars no less than their contemporaries. Indeed, the shackles of the metalcore scene from which BTBAM arose were broken long ago, and despite the odd flourish here and there, BTBAM transcend their old roots time and again to confound genre labellers everywhere.

Now seven albums in, ‘The Parallax II: Future Sequence’ is a continuation of BTBAM’s upward trajectory; not really breaking away from anything they’ve done before, just continuing to do what they do so well. As ever, they open with an introductory clean track, the dreamy and contemplative ‘Goodbye to Everything’, which segues into ‘Astral Body’ which continues the skyward motion in still ethereal fashion before the growls and the riffery come in. Aside from ‘Bloom’, which appears later in the album, that’s the only regular song to come in sub-9 minutes, with most songs after that regularly clocking ten or eleven minutes in length. ‘Lay Your Ghosts To Rest’ in the first of these, once again displaying the band’s knack for being able to turn the song on a sixpence into a different direction. The band saunter, thrash and angle their way through every turn, and all at complete ease.

Between the Buried and Me – Astral Body

The further into ‘Parallax II’ we go, the more apparent this is their most ambitious album yet. Interludes are getting their own space – three in total (not including the intro and outro), through the instrumental ‘Autumn’, the title-track (with Tesseract’s Amos Williams providing the narrative), followed quickly the third, ‘The Black Box’ – more or less a standard but short BTBAM track. It all leads into the stunning second half of the album, led by ‘Telos’, which is perhaps one of the most brutal tracks I’ve heard, with some pretty mean breakdowns in the latter half of the song; followed by the completely bonkers ‘Bloom’, which initially sounds a little like a Sparks jam at first and morphs into the Surfaris ‘Wipe Out’ halfway through. There’s a really epic feel about how the album closes, and that’s not using the word lightly, on ‘Silent Flight Parliament’, particularly as it builds towards its dramatic close with the lines ‘Jet propulsion disengage/Dance towards our future/A future of nothing/a future towards nothing’. It brings everything back around to the beginning of this album, at which point the future of nothing was precisely a dream to the protagonists (Prospect 1 and Prospect 2) of the story, at which point they finally arrive at the end of their journey (through the reprise of ‘Goodbye to Everything’), complete the ‘Parallax‘ story. Or so the philosopher in me considers.

I won’t go as far to say that this is BTBAM’s best album yet, but they’re making it harder and harder to split hairs. It’s certainly an improvement on ‘The Great Misdirect’, which was good but really sat in the shadow of ‘Colors’. The stopgap release of ‘Parallax I’ was an excellent idea in hindsight. It was excellent in its own right, but for that to be the primer for the kaleidoscope of ‘Parallax II’ is a bountiful gift to be bestowed with. The concept isn’t always apparent simply due to the sheer volume, but this is as much a concept record as any other BTBAM record, through its continual segue from one track to another, making each track, however outstanding, much more essential to listen to as part of its whole.

Moreso, its staggering to think that BTBAM have been around for twelve years now and still have a heck of a lot more to give, seemingly arriving in the last few years at the higher echelons of the metal pyramid. Detractors may think they’re playing it safe having not tinkered too much with their sound over that time, but this couldn’t be further from the truth – BTBAM have simply embraced their progressive tendencies more and more over time and the ‘Parallax’ story is their most ambitious yet. Though still not quite a band for everyone (unless death metal becomes universally popular), no self-respecting metal fan should be devoid of this opus. Let’s dance towards this future of nothing with them.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘The Parallax II: Future Sequence’ here 

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