Sound — 9
Let's not make it an elephant in this room this album will be compared to Colors', the album that catapulted Between The Buried And Me into a whole new stratosphere of experimentation and exposure. Saliva-drenched CD players are being turned on as we speak, with each listener confident that the band will take the exact direction which suits their tastes best. The Backtrack'-meets-Viridian' crowd-pleaser Mirrors' only builds this anticipation, but getting into the meat of the disc requires a couple of precursory listens so that pants can be soiled and saliva can dry.
So rather than starting with first impressions, it's best to start with something more analytical. Fundamentally similar to Colors', The Great Misdirect' runs on the fuel of riffs; fast, slow, long, short, dissonant, diatonic...riffs of all shapes and sizes. Complete mismatches, you'd think but these constantly morphing counts and keys do somehow make sense. On Colors', most of the music seemed to be a continuous, natural progression of whatever happened to flow out of the sessions but on this one, the madness seems very calculated. Alarming, considering the amount of wacky' fun to be found on Fossil Genera' or Swim To The Moon', but this certainly is an accomplished effort. Blake Richardson's drumming seems more secure within this framework; rather than drumming to keep up with the creative flurry of ideas, he drums to signal them.
At its most extreme (the beginning of Disease, Injury, Madness', for example) it becomes more difficult to discern who the focus is supposed to be on, but the soft moments which follow those climaxes thrive on that balance. The exception is Desert Of Song', where Richardson and bassist Dan Briggs take a back seat, and let the vocal melody work with the bluesy guitars to create a tune that is simple on a basal level yet very much in line with BTBAM's style of harmony and their knack for dynamic coherency.
Lyrics — 8
You'd think a song like Swim To The Moon' would have its fair share of Syd Barrett-esque psychedelia, but The Great Misdirect' is actually far more down-to-earth than its predecessor. No all you can eat trumpets, no funny-tasting teeth and no swollen ankles; due to the erratic nature of the music and Tommy Rogers' delivery over it, the words are completely without structure but they are an awful lot easier to follow this time. Various theories for the betterment of mankind are presented; be it Obfuscation's philosophical wonderings, Disease, Injury, Madness's vicarious diatribe or Swim To The Moon's more personal reflection, The Great Misdirect' is a gripping collection of texts.
Tommy Rogers' vocals are often an underrated factor in the power behind his band's music. Without them, parts of this album would be like a slightly beefed version of Dream Theater, rather than a slightly Dream Theater'd version of beef. His job involves feeding grooves and often giving them a pattern which the listener can trace and he makes it happen without fail. His clean vocals, however are not as vital as they have been in the past, only really coming into their own on Desert Of Song'. That can probably be attributed to where they are used on the album; only the chorus of Swim To The Moon', which acts as an anchor for the song, really gives Rogers a big platform from which to display his singing skill. That said, his screams are as good as they have ever been and moments like the end of Obfuscation' give him more than enough of a soapbox in that department.
Overall Impression — 8
Well written, well arranged, well played, well produced...what else is there to say? Well, what this album is missing that made Colors' so phenomenal is a pour-your-heart-out sense of passion. The band are very much into it' but there's no heart strings being pulled, no emotional rollercoaster to give the whole thing a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, it could be argued that the more coherent' layout may be to blame for this. A couple of cheeky Colors' references are hidden in the woodwork their congruency might suggest deeper connections but at the end of the day the overwhelming scale of that album has made it very difficult for this one to be much more than a victory lap. Still, The Great Misdirect' is a quality album from one of metal's most inventive contemporary bands.