Between the Buried and Me - _The Parallax II: Future Sequence_
(Metal Blade Records, 2012)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (9 out of 10)
Riddle me this, my fellow metal fan: why is it that we can only find ourselves in this obscure musical format? What possible joys are we looking for amidst these thick forests of darkness, turbulence and distortion? Maybe there's a higher intuitive form of elation that we know exists and are seeking. Maybe extreme metal is where we start climbing the pyramid of musical transcendence, hoping to finally reach that elusive state of artistic perfection where all kinds of music merge into an eternal symphony of beauty. Opposing corners on a pyramid seem furthest at the base, but as we all ascend, the distance shrinks and unity takes over.

Having laid out this rather philosophical allegory, I'd say that if the extreme metal world had to select its most fitting ambassador for such an endeavor, it has to be Between the Buried and Me. These five young men have been churning out some of the most expansive and versatile metal you can find these days. It's true that their particular brand of metal is quite a difficult niche to adopt, but that's only because they've been refining their output ever since their 2002 self-titled debut. The sound they've forged in 2007 on their crowning achievement _Colors_ continues to evolve, and _The Parallax II: Future Sequence_ is yet another commendable leap forward by Between the Buried and Me. It is another shining example of how much can be integrated into an extreme metal album without it losing that 'extreme' part.

_The Parallax II: Future Sequence_ is the second half of the story laid out on last year's EP _The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues_. Standing as BtBaM's longest running effort to date, _Future Sequence_ boasts twelve tracks that total at seventy-two minutes of roller coaster-type twists and turns in typical BtBaM fashion. The album details the happenings and interactions between the two prospects in the story where they are forced to make decisions that could bear drastic consequences. The lyrics remain in the sci-fi field that these lads seem to love so much. Also, just like earlier releases, there's a meaningful sentence that goes beyond the album's story that gets repeated near the end.

"Goodbye to Everything" (a prevalent theme all around) kicks things off with some acoustic guitars and clean vocals. The comparatively straightforward "Astral Body" then takes over with a patient build-up that provides Blake Richardson with lots of space and allows him to get excited on the drums. "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest" is the first of five giants on the album; carrying with it around ten minutes of brutality, serenity, almost no repetitions and some wizardry on what sounds a lot like a fretless bass. The cartoonish keyboards make yet another appearance on _Future Sequence_, where they start "Bloom" off and are followed by some equally cartoonish vocals and percussions to boot.

More drumming brilliance can be found on the vicious "Telos", which incorporates some extra instruments, meandering progressiveness and a hint of Converge near the end, and on "Extremophile Elite", where the crafty use of the toms elevates that melody in the beginning. It also has an Indian style melody that's played over a copied segment from _Hypersleep Dialogues_ to perfectly tie both releases together. The awesome double tracking of the vocals and a delightful '70s prog-style flute segment will sweep you off your feet on "Melting City" and then "Silent Flight Parliament" guides the album and its story to its climax with trippy keyboards and wailing guitars. Then the culmination of this epic story happens on "Goodbye to Everything Reprise", with its emotional guitar solo to end it all on the highest of notes.

Between the Buried and Me has once more created a multi-dimensional artistic experience that integrates their influences as musicians and their fondness for science fiction, all so elegantly intertwined in a very metallic matrix. They are evolving individually in terms of their technical capabilities and globally as members putting together some of the finest examples of extreme metal ever. Bravo BtBaM!


(article published 4/11/2012)

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