Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic
By: Saj Perez
North Carolina’s own kings of progressive metal, Between the Buried and Me (or BTBAM) have been pushing the boundaries of both metal and progressive music since their breakthrough album from 2003, The Silent Circus.
There’s always been a hint of a little more melody, a little more experimentation, a little more exploration, a little bit more of everything away from their metal-core/tech-metal days with each passing album.
Having toured with bands like Dream Theater and Opeth in the past few years, and seeing how other heavy bands transition from just playing progressively heavy music to playing heavy progressive music, it was only a matter of time before BTBAM made the sonic leap they have been hinting at since rising within the music scene.
To say that Coma Ecliptic is a departure for the band is misnomer, as they haven’t radically gone full on Peter Gabriel era Genesis or Yes. They’ve incorporated the sounds of those bands to the sounds that BTBAM is known for, and created a gem of an album. The cover of Coma Ecliptic should give away that the music within is a different strain of BTBAM than what fans are used to. The cover recalls the striking images that accompanied Pink Floyd albums for many years.
There’s a looser feel with this album, and not as concise and tight as previous releases, which actually benefits the songs to have a more jam band feel (without going off the rails so to speak). More clean vocals, with a smidgen of the screaming that Tommy Rogers and Co. have used on past albums.
The lyrics comprise a concept album that involves the thoughts and images within the mind of a man in a coma, hence one half of the album title. The other half of it is “ecliptic,” which refers to our path around the sun, and while we view the sun as moving, however, WE are the ones moving (again, high concept idea to fit with the overall package). Interesting to note that this concept album is much more than the music, as it ties the album cover, the title, and all these details together to make one cohesive overarching piece missing in today’s buffet-style of picking apart which pieces you want (singles) versus experiencing an album wholly.
Opener “Node” sets the tone of the seeming abrupt stylistic change from the tight, progressive metal machines of Alaska or Colors, to a looser, more grooving BTBAM. Each track flows into each other seamlessly, setting each other up like a musical relay race, from the Muse-like “Dim Ignition” leading into the crushing “Famine Wolf.” Other tracks such as “Memory Palace” show both their growth and the musical proficiency that BTBAM’s members have been known for, including the various vocal melodies and, in some cases, noises that Rogers uses.
This album is a distinct change of pace for BTBAM, but longtime fans have seen the shifts since The Silent Circus as the band slowly, and subtly, shifted their sound to a more progressive sheen each album, rather than sticking with the metallic crunch and chaos the band was first known for.
This album may alienate older fans that would rather have Alaska Pt.2 but BTBAM have shown that they are a band of progression and doing what they feel will help them keep separate from the pack, and like the Opeth’s and Dream Theater’s of the world before them, help stand out among their peers atop the progressive metal landscape.
The album is out now via Metal Blade Records.
BTBAM are also on tour, with support from Animals as Leaders and The Contortionist.
See dates below.
Official Website: www.betweentheburiedandme.com/