Sound — 9
I've been a fan of BTBAM ever since the beginning of my senior year in high school. I was just getting into progressive metal at the time. My friend gave me to album recommendations of theirs, Alaska and Colors. He told me I'd like Colors more because it's more like progressive rock from the 70's, which I happened to be a huge fan of. I listened to both of the albums. I was turned off from Colors because I found it to be a bit wankish at first. Alaska was incredible. Tight, progressive, abrasive yet soothing at times. BTBAM quickly became on of my favorite bands. I was finally able to appreciate Colors with the help of my first girlfriend. The Great Misdirect came out a little over a year ago. I was turned off from it at first because it was even more excessive than Colors to me. Any who, after one listen I put away the album and didn't listen to it again until about four months ago. I instantly fell in love with the album and kicked myself for passing this album by earlier. Everything about the album was beautiful, from the production quality to the lyrics. Between the Buried and Me have made a full transition from being just a technical deathcore band to being a full fledged progressive death metal band. Although, it's not fair to call them just one genre. They genre-hop in a very Mr. Bungle-like manner. One minute they are doing a soft jazz-like ballad, the next minute they are fusing ragtime with death metal. These guys are not dumb and know more about music than probably 99% of other metal acts. The album opens with a great starter entitled "Mirrors". It reminds me a bit of the last track off of Alaska, very soft and haunting. A keyboard kicks in about halfway and the songs perfectly transitions with a nifty pitch-bend into the next track "Obfuscation". This track is pure BTBAM brutality and progness through and through. It's a whopping 9 minutes of tempo changes, tremolo picking, guitar solos, breaks, and all sorts of other goodies. The album continues to increase in complexity and variety. "Disease, Injury, Madness" is probably my favorite track off this album. It has three distinct sections. The first is a by-the-book prog death metal passage with lots of stomach turning tempo changes and chugging. All of the sudden the noise drops and a soft clean passage begins. This section is incredibly moving and powerful. The last section of this song is an incredibly catchy instrumental part that is very rock-ish. Organs and pentatonic scales galore. I was blown away at how amazing this song was. The song following this is "Fossil Genera: A Feed From Cloud Mountain". It's the only metal song I've ever heard to feature a honky tonk piano and joyful whistling. The song sort of loses it's momentum about four minutes in, but does redeem itself towards the end with a clean passage that is a feel-good sort of ending. The album has one weak spot. That happens to be the next track. "Desert of a Song" is a boring acoustic folk song. The lead guitarist, Paul, is singing and he doesn't sound that good. Tommy backs him up and redeems it a little bit. The song is not terrible by any means, but is a bit underwhelming when compared to the rest of the album. It's a song that will take some time to truly appreciate, I guess. The last song on this album is a huge one. At a staggering 18 minutes, "Swim To The Moon" BTBAM's longest song yet. This previous was White Walls, which coincidentally ended their previous album. This is definitely one of their most ambitious songs. It starts out with percussion in a very unusual time signature that I still can't decrypt. The guitars, bass, and drums kick in. There is this passage about a minute and a half in that is very melodic death metal-ish. There is a guest vocalist who sings along with Tommy. He provides a bit of a throwback to their "core" roots while Tommy does some great growling to accent it. Swim to the Moon has many memorable parts, such as the latin-inspired horn/drum section, the drum solo, the furious bongo chase scene-like page, and many more. The song continues to build, with never a dull moment in sight. There is a really catchy part at the end where All of the members show off their soloing abilities. Including Tommy on the organ! Everything about this song is just perfect. My jaw was dropped after listening to this all the way through.
Lyrics — 8
I've never really followed BTBAM's lyrics. Most of their early albums were either very obscure or tongue-in-cheek. This album seems to have much deeper lyrics. The lyrics match the music perfectly. I actually had to read through the booklet and check the lyrics on this one. My favorite lyrics are for the softer section of "Disease Injury Madness". Tommy delivers these lyrics with his incredibly dynamic vocal range. He is capable of the dirtiest of death metal growls, sludgy yelling, and clean vocals straight from a chorus in heaven. It's refreshing to see metal that doesn't have dumbed down lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
In 2009, We saw a lot of incredible Progressive Metal albums. The two most important to me were "Crack The Skye" and "The Great Misdirect". Originally I favored CTS, but this album has quickly overtaken it. I love the music, the artwork, the lyrics, the very clean recording and production quality, and the memories attached to the album. I don't hate much about this album. Even the worst parts of it are better a lot of music. I hate how these guys aren't getting the exposure they deserve. If this album got stolen from me, I would probably race out and buy it again. It's that simple.