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Review: Colors by Between the Buried & Me

“Colors” by Between the Buried & Me

Ah, Between the Buried and Me. For some, perhaps, a musical act of acquired taste. Let me start by saying the first albums I heard were  “The Silent Circus” & “Alaska”. So I’ve been a fan for quite some time, & I think “Colors” is their best album by far. This one is meant to be listened to continuously from track to track without any pauses, making for a unique listening experience each and every time.


Foam Born (a) The Backtrack” – The piano intro to this song is haunting, a foreshadowing of the surreal nature of the songs to come. Simple, clean vocals ring out & for a second it sounds like another group entirely. The vocals dip low & echo, & suddenly everything builds up into a Queen-esque chorus of clean harmonies. The layers slowly build, starting with synth, then finally the guitars descend into their signature sporadic playing style. Intensely distorted vocals blare over the music, soon followed by the familiar gutteral screaming of the lead singer. The album has officially begun, & if you’re not into it by now, there’s no point in listening any further.

(b) The Decade of Statues” – This is what I imagine an everyday jam session sounds like for this band, precise & technical playing from every instrument. This song lets you know what to expect in terms of diversity & sudden changes in genre, with an extremely catchy harmonized guitar duet near the end of the track. There aren’t many bands that can get away with these sort of changes without notice. In their case it’s acceptable because of the level of skill involved in playing, let alone recording, this sort of music so flawlessly.

Informal Gluttony” – The intro drums & guitar lick almost seem reminiscent of the Slayer era of metal, eerily haunting but it’s totally ear-candy at the same time. This track is very similar to the structure behind  “All Bodies” on the album “Alaska”, brutal & intense nearly the entire song with screaming vocals for the most part. All of a sudden the chorus rings out completely clean harmonies, retaining the heavy drums & guitar throughout. The singing vocal range may not be ridiculous to some people, but to be able to scream that low & maintain that clean of a voice is impressive.

Sun of Nothing” – There are tons of great riffs & licks on this album, & nearly every song is jaw-droppingly complex. But this song in particular makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This track is like a roller coaster of changing genres & playing styles, with everything from intense death metal to soft, simple ballad segments. This band truly understands the important dynamic between heavy & light playing, something that a lot of musical acts neglect. I don’t feel like much needs to be said about this song other than the fact that it’s amazingly well written & it’s executed just as well.

Ants of the Sky” – When you listen to this album up to this point, you’re waiting for some strange stuff to happen. Or at least you’re anticipating something to throw you off, but by the time it hits you in this song, you wonder how it got to that point in the first place. This track attempts to top everything you’ve already heard, & it’s musical foreshadowing at its finest. Ridiculous guitar harmonies in the intro suck you in immediately, developing into a harsh death metal progression with time. At a seemingly random point, there’s even a bluegrass jam complete with the ambient sounds of a crowded bar in the deep south. This one is an incredible representation of the range they can cover, & it’s one of my favorites.

Prequel to the Sequel” – The intro to this song could grab any metal-head’s attention, a triumphant riff that grows into a harmonized, slowly shifting progression. The drums take a very mathematical approach, with some of the smoothest transitions from bar to bar. The vocals set in, & the feeling plunges from triumphant to brooding & haunting. The pacing of this song is really intense & the baroque style guitar playing gives it a nice urgency. There is a short part with what sounds like accordion & cartoonish vocals, & suddenly they plunge into an extreme death metal segment with two sets of diverse screaming vocals. This part reminds me a lot of Dillinger Escape Plan’s earlier stuff, almost a Blood Brother’s quality to the high, strained screaming. The tension relieves & begins to build back up with melodic singing, with some electric guitar licks building up to impressive speed before transitioning into the first note of the next song.

Viridian” – This track is a big slap in the face to those who say you can’t hear the bassist playing in metal bands. Very airy, light instrumental segment with appropriately swift bass lines, accompanied by jazzy guitar & drums. The song shows off the playing ability of their bassist nicely, without being abrupt or out of sync with the other songs.

White Walls” – If you were a fan of “Alaska” era Between the Buried & Me, this song should be right up your alley. The gradual fade in from the previous track gives the low-toned picking a sense of absolute dominance. This song is commanding & powerful throughout, complimented by some of the most soulful guitar solos on any of their albums. Not only is the playing incredible & catchy, but it has a timeless, almost baroque feeling. The soft buildups with clean vocals are addicting & suspenseful, & the screaming is tighter & higher than on previous tracks. Everything just fits together without missing a beat, making this a very fitting & reflective finale to the album.

I bought this album the week it came out, and I’ve listened to it countless times from beginning to end. It’s one of those albums that’s hard to get tired of because it’s so high-concept & difficult to interpret the first time around. It makes you want to listen to it multiple times through to catch what you missed. I’ve seen them play some of these songs live, and it’s still hard to imagine a group of people sitting down and writing this kind of music. All in all, it’s something every metal fan should listen to at least once. For me it’s a staple of any good album collection, definitely a mile-stone in the history of progressive music.

Album Review by Tom Servo

Categorized as: Music Reviews | Written Reviews

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