Coma Ecliptic review by Between the Buried and Me

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  • Released: Jul 10, 2015
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (53 votes)
Between the Buried and Me: Coma Ecliptic
3

Sound — 9
Between The Buried And Me (aka BTBAM) came about at a time where modern metal as we know it now was being slowly built from the ground up. Blending Converge-like anger and disharmony, the budding sound of melody based metalcore, the more technical aspects of death metal at the time and a variety of more progressive traits, their sound has changed dramatically over their 13 years of releases, examples including the acclaimed "Alaska" and "Colors" with more recent releases becoming more and more diverse and progressive in their content.

"Coma Ecliptic" is certainly a far cry from their debut from all those years ago. When the hype train was called to start around September last year, "rock opera" became a bit of a buzzword, and boy, has it stayed true.

This album is perhaps a natural progression, but it eschews many aspects of BTBAM's more renowned, original sound. Gone are the inordinate amounts of blast beats, slam riffs and the overall "extreme" aspect of the earlier records. In place, we have a very modern prog metal record, similar in the vein of Haken or the more crazy sides of Dream Theater. Oh, and of course it's a concept album, how could it not be?

Thing is, this is actually a really good sounding record. I say that as a person who was introduced to BTBAM some 5 years ago at a live show and promptly ignored them for ages.

What struck me most first of all was the amount of musical crafting going on in just the first track "Node" alone. An inherently mysterious and inviting chord pattern on a Rhodes-ian keyboard introduces this ever growing and shifting album, an album that takes you on a journey of weirdness and wackiness with a slight touch of confusion and a feeling of "wat."

Clashing structures, twisted and bent harmonic concepts taken to an emotive and intriguing level, some seriously impressive instrument canoodling and a certain charisma that separates the bands identity from contemporaries. There are some gorgeous moments on this album. "King Redeem/Queen Serene" brings out a true melancholy through riffs and chords alone, shifting to this empowering and dramatically Opeth-ian track. "Rapid Calm" brings the piano build up of "Node" into its own track and bends it around some very sobering "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things"-esque clean sections, topped with one of Tommy Giles Rogers' most dreamy performances yet. "Option Oblivion" is, surprisingly perhaps, one of the more grounded tracks and it has some of the best guitar work on the album. And that freakin' outro, no need to spoil it.

Honestly, it's quite hard stating just how much depth this album has, from a musical perspective. It feels like a properly worked-over, stressed-over piece of art from start to finish.

I'd say there are one or two bad points here and there. I think that it certainly lacks consistency, in that very rarely will you hear the same part twice, although when you do, it's often at its most needed moment. The one biggest complaint I'd have is that the concept of the albums sound has been done before. Not necessarily better, but this kind of spastic, jumpy style has been a staple of '70s prog, Dream Theater perhaps also being the biggest name to use here as a reference point. But, BTBAM's take on it is still unique enough to stop it from becoming generic.

Although that raises the question of, is there generic prog? What would it sound like? Does it djent? Questions for later.

Lyrics — 8
As Mr Giles Rogers has been the sole vocalist of BTBAM, it's interesting to follow his development from album to album. Although not that much has changed from "The Parallax II: Future Sequence" in effect, this album has allowed him to breathe a lot of character into his performance. I've never been a great fan of his harsh vocals and honestly, he really hasn't changed much in that department, but his overall performance is pretty strong.

The Paul Masvidalian "dreamy cleans" are still his go-to point here (have you noticed how him and Giles-Rogers could be related?), but he adopts a lot of persona's on a track by track basis, given the album concept. They mostly work, although they might irk the more serious-minded of listeners. I liken these little sections to a slightly less over-the-top UneXpect. Some of the more flamboyant moments add a sense of fun to the more discordant tracks, such as on "Famine Wolf" where the band goes full Queen, although I still feel that his harsh vocals are either too harsh or not harsh enough, can't quite decide on which because there are times where both occur.

Lyrically speaking, "Coma Ecliptic" is, as mentioned, based around a concept. Not the most original idea, the premise being that it's about a man trapped in a coma and experiences events in past incarnations. To provide some context, Ayreon released "The Human Equation" which is an album with a similar concept and one that Arjen Lucassen spent a lot of time with on developing the story and characters and then implementing them into the album. "Coma Ecliptic" is not as dedicated, as it's just one guy doing all the characterizations but the instrumental side is much more exploratory. Still, the concept is executed pretty strongly and certainly fits the inherently bonkers musical base.

Overall Impression — 8
To sum up, I feel that its a very strong album. An abundance of pure joy, playfulness and scatter-brained charisma, moving entirely forward and with the sort of "care-for-the-craft" that sometimes gets a bit lost in the blur of modern metal records.

I'd say that if you weren't a fan before, this might be a good album to start with. It's a bit difficult to pin point why, but I think it's that there's a certain familiarity with the overall concept that any prog fan could identify with but at the same time, BTBAM's take on it is unique to them and one they do well.

Songs to look out for: I'd recommend listening to the whole thing in one go, but personal favourites for me are "King Redeem/Queen Serene," "The Ectopic Stroll," "Memory Palace" and "Option Oblivion."

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    splamron
    Keen. BTBAM are a bad that will always deliver music that theyve enjoyed making, and are all about keeping their older fans on their toes while still encapsulating that makes them BTBAM. Glad theyre still doing it
    domac
    This new album just doesn't work for me. A good chunk of it reminds me of the worst overdramatic melodrama songs from Dream Theatre with the touch of modern production.
    anthsband
    The comparisons to Dream Theater are 100% correct with this album. In my opinion this album is the "new" Scenes From a Memory (my fav album of all time btw). People need to look at this album in a different way because of the fact that they took a leap in a new direction. It is an amazing piece of musical art. I will say that I hope this is a one-off experimental album and that they do not stray away from their metal side but if they did I wouldn't mind.
    a drummer
    Man, this band used to be my shit. I absolutely loved Alaska, Colors, and The Great Misdirect, and thought the EP was great. When Colors came out, I brought that CD everywhere and forced people to listen to its greatness, but i don't what it is about this one and The Parallax ll. I love prog, i love concepts, I love BTBAM but for some reason i can't fully get into this and it bums me out. I've only listened a few times which is not nearly enough for a BTBAM album but it's just lacking in place. Ah well... just my opinion, people seem to be loving their new direction but i don't think it's for me. Time to listen to All Bodies.
    a drummer
    I just saw them last night, and saw the three new songs played. mind=blown..again. This record is a grower, for sure. Famine Wolf live was incredible
    vppark2
    First well written review Ive seen from Epi, and Im not even a big fan of this album. It has its moments, but overall, I def preferred their last album. 8/10.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    "Has its moments. 8/10"
    vppark2
    Im being generous, and realize these guys are talented. Id say it's not for me, but I enjoyed their last album a lot, so I dunno man.
    AdriAn934
    I may get down-votes but Parallax II didn't really do it for me. Loved the EP but I think this new album is a big step up, for me at least. Everyone's entitled to their opinion though
    Peres.T.Peanut
    I understand what you're saying, I just thought the way you phrased it was funny.
    vppark2
    I dont see how.
    chudboi
    vppark you comment on every review, youre a prick not a music reviewer
    vppark2
    Oh, totally. Im so bashing this band, and the review. Learn to take constructive criticism like the way you take the dick up your ass.
    agm_ultimatex
    I think it's terrible you're getting downvoted. You're being very fair about it, and clearly stating as opinion. I like the album, but i definitely prefer their previous works.
    DWAUME
    "Has its moments" means it's mostly mediocre or bad, except for some moments. Right? So 8/10 is a really, really stupid rating, since it's so inconsistent with how you described the album. Also, nice to see your "Learn to take constructive criticism like the way you take the dick up your ass" comment in 2015, the originality is staggering.
    qrEE
    I'm surprised to see so many people saying that they dropped off with The Great Misdirect or Parallax 1 and 2. I dunno I thought ST was good, Silent circus was great, Alaska was great, Colors is one of the best albums ever, Great Misdirect was maybe their second best? That or the first Parallax. Second Parallax was inevitably a step down but still a great album with some great parts. This album is cool but iunno, it lacks what made BTBAM so great in the Colors era, which is a nice blend of real emotions/thoughtfulness and interesting/impressive musicianship. Great Misdirect was kinda a half and half thing, where the album keeps the emotional side for half and then once it hits "Fossil Genera" it turns more "zany" and theatrical. I still love the rest of that material, but from then on it was more and more theatrics and less and less emotions. The emotional core seems almost entirely gone now, so this is all spectacle. Good spectacle but Colors was great spectacle AND a great emotional core. I doubt they'll top it. It'll be a while before anyone can top it while going for the same kinds of things as that album.
    Redfinton22
    They're my favorite band and I totally get you dude. On the older records, where the concepts are less defined, I feel like they really showed more of themselves as developing musicians than in the newer, more conceptually ambitious works. I love it all, but I have that emotional attachment to The Great Misdirect and their previous two albums that I'm not sure can be beat. Now, having said all that...this new album is ****ing tits man
    travislausch
    I wish you'd mentioned Paul Waggonner's verse in "Turn on the Darkness" because that was my favourite part of the record so far Good review though. Still waiting for this record to sink in, though. I'm kind of kicking myself for not getting to see these guys next month with The Contortionist and Animals As Leaders in London, Ontario.
    EpiExplorer
    True, but I didn't want to bog people down with spoilers.
    IfDaysEnd
    It certainly has been a long way since their Self-Titled... Personally, I still prefer their style in The Silent Circus, which I think is very unappreciated. On topic, I've found more difficult to get into every album they've put out since Colors. I'm not criticizing their musical skills, but I fail to see progression in everything between Colors and Parallax II. I really hope that Coma Ecliptic is a TRUE step forward.
    SGofawesome
    Coma Ecliptic is definitely a different record. I highly recommend it if you're looking for some fresh stuff from this band. I can't put it down.
    IfDaysEnd
    I haven't heard it yet, still waiting for my pre-order. But I did hear Memory Palace and it didn't disappoint, a well structured song. But I don't know, since I heard Native Construct's disc I haven't stopped thinking "this is what BTBAM should sound like"
    AdriAn934
    I think it's their best since Colors.. wasn't a huge fan of Parallax II, especially after the EP was so powerful. You really have to listen to this thing all the way through to get the full experience. Very excited to see them play it live, especially with AAL and Contortionist opening up for them, should be a great show.
    TheJollyRoger
    None of their albums since The Great Misdirect works for me. I love all their stuff from ST to Colors. But unfortunately I can't get into this album.
    headbanger987
    This is the first album I've bought by BTBAM and listened to and I have to say that I am COMPLETELY FLOOR EDF by the record. Everything flows so well together that if you listened to it without pauses between tracks you wouldn't know when the songs end, flows extremely well. Coma Ecliptic is like a progressive metal rock opera ride that has a very very well written story that is thrilling to follow. That being said the lyrical content is incredible and the story is portrayed very well. The music is extremely well put together and the different parts fit the parts of the story as it progresses through. The musicianship is incredible the keyboards, drums, bass, and guitars fit so well together at every moment on the record and go together flawlessly. Extremely tight band and the leads on this album are incredible I can't the guitarist's names but they are very great players that know how to make really melodic parts and make it count whether it's a 7 second lick or a multiple minute lead. The vocal delivery is very good the singer has a great singing voice and does many out of the ordinary are vocal patterns and some vocal impressions; for example on the song "The Ectopic Stroll the protagonist has a meeting with a man who offers him a deal and the way he speaks the voice is very distinct and you can easily follow along with the story. The screams on this record are very signature and distinct of the BTBAM vocalist and personally I love his take on that. I see a lot of people complaining about the lack of screaming but I think that the parts with clean singing and the parts without fit the song and I wouldn't favor the vocals on the songs to be done any other way, he sings on the parts that call for them and the same goes for screaming so I don't have any problems with that. Overall I would give this album a 10/10 I honestly have no problems with any part of this album and after listening to it 5 times fully through every time the record is timeless, and it is about a 60 minute record, it still is exciting and a captivating journey that you never want to end, and the ending on this album is phenomenal. I always have the lust to come back to it and experience it again start to finish. Again this is my first introduction to the band so I am not in any way comparing it to any of their other releases. I would highly recommend this record to anyone with an open mind and a love for great progressive rock or metal or even for any fans of great concept albums, this was easily for me one of my favorite new albums that I've heard in a long time. I can't say enough about how great this record really is all I can say now is just to go out and hear it for yourself because I fully believe that you will love the reco. and if you don't give it a try frankly you're just missing out.
    yuyinyu
    A really great album overall, BTBAM's sound is refreshing as ever! IMO, their music has become a little stale and uninspiring after Colors or maybe The Great Misdirect. The first time I heard Memory Palace and The Coma Machine, I know this album is going to be awesome and I'm not disappointed! I love their old stuff too, Silent Cirus and Colors are still my favorite BTBAM's ablums, but this one is going to be a contender now!
    MetalSaint
    For me I enjoyed the album song by song from a good intro to an awesome outro song