Between the Buried and Me - _The Great Misdirect_
(Victory Records, 2009)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (9 out of 10)
What is the first band that pops in your head when you hear or read the word progressive? Is it King Crimson? Rush? Camel? Or are you a younger fan that is instantly reminded of Opeth and Tool? Whatever your answer may be, your experience with this dizzying genre will remain incomplete until you've sat down and sunk your teeth into the works of Between the Buried and Me. This five piece progressive group comes from North Carolina, USA. You might not think that they're a metal band if you see any of their pictures, because they never pose in all black attire and look at the camera as if they're about to vomit at it like many bands do these days.

Between the Buried and Me have developed a lot from their self-titled debut, which had prominent metalcore influences, all the way to their fifth studio album _The Great Misdirect_, which will have you marveling at its calm beauty and within the same minute, running for shelter from its brutality. In addition, it is not an easily digestible album, but that's something that we have already gotten used to from those guys. Their meticulous and dense progressive compositions require extensive and attentive listening. That gives their music more value over time, because it tends to grow on you.

The lazy chords of "Mirrors" point us onto this _Great Misdirect_. The jazzy tones, complex timings and trippy keyboards make this track the perfect introduction. The blasts and growls arrive on the nine minute long "Obfuscation", but that doesn't make a shredfest by any stretch of the imagination. Dan Briggs pulls of an intelligent proggy bass groove and the guitar solo is sensational; all their influences seamlessly blend together. "Disease, Injury and Madness" has a spine chilling psychedelic segment that will seep through you like a drug. Tommy Rogers puts his keyboards to great use in the calm section here and varies the vocal options later on the heavier section. Then you suddenly feel like you've been teleported to a ranch in Texas with a swift country music transition.

Cartoonish keyboards are used to start "Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain" and someone appears to be whistling a nice melody in the background. The rest of the track goes through hardcore breakdowns and death metal blast 'n' growl sections and then hits the brakes with a splendid clean section at its end. The less 'metal' of BtBaM's progressive music influences are further explored on "Desert of Song". The influences from major prog-rockers like Camel and King Crimson are pretty obvious on this one, but that certainly doesn't void it of originality. Rogers' vocals are simply exquisite. The extended and uncountable licks continue on the closing 18 minute marathon "Swim to the Moon". Blake Richardson outdoes himself with the drum fills on offer. Tommy Rogers sounds like he's bursting a couple of veins on his neck when he screams "Look into the picture" and then transforms into a sedated child at the very end when singing "slide into the water, become one with the sea, life seems so much smaller, swim to the moon".

Between the Buried and Me may be deemed generic by some breakdown-oriented music haters, but that is definitely because they just didn't really listen. Appreciating the depth and complexity of their music is nothing you can achieve after two or three listens. After their landmark album that is _Colors_, I have to say I was a little skeptical before listening bona fide to this follow-up, but I must admit that all my skepticism has been gradually vaporized by this _Great Misdirect_.


(article published 7/3/2010)

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