Sound — 9
While Between The Buried And Me's (BTBAM's) latest masterpiece, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, is only a 3 song EP, each song is still of long length, and the release still clocks in at a half hour. I figured the best way to describe would be to dive into each song in detail. BTBAM has always been quite an unpredictable band as you never know what they're going to do next. The production is ace, as Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill (Tool, King Crimson, Dream Theater, etc.) was at the helm. Interestingly enough the band did not go with the usual Jamie King, but Bottrill [David] sure did put the midas touch on this one. While I felt their last release The Great Misdirect was a slight misstep, I think The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues shows the band back in tip top shape. Musically, I hear elements from each respective BTBAM album, and if you've followed BTBAM through their extensive career (now 11 years as a band!), they've always expanded their sound while at the same time keeping that signature BTBAM sound. They might not be as straightforward as they used to be, but BTBAM has definitely evolved into one damn fine progressive metal outfit.
01. Specular Reflection: The opening track for The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues starts off with an interesting intro via a symphonic movement that is then bombarded by that distinct, chaotic, and complex BTBAM sound. Fans of the Alaska-era will be able to rejoice, and Specular Reflection is filled with crazy drum arrangements, sick time signatures, unique groove, intricate prog moments, and plenty of brutal moments stuck within all the madness. The avant garde interludes remind me of the Colors-era, and Specular Reflection is quite the return so far for BTBAM. Man oh man I bet a jam session with these dudes is magic.
02. Augment of Rebirth: Technicality right out of the gate, BTBAM makes a statement with Augment of Rebirth. I love the way Augment of Rebirth builds up with its brilliant guitar work. Bassist Dan Briggs lays down the law with some sick bass lines, and each respective BTBAM member shines in Augment of Rebirth. I even hear some Animosity - Animal-era brutality around the 3 minute mark, which leads into the sounding of the horns. BTBAM even goes pretty far out there with some random Mr. Bungle-esque moments, which then they unexpectedly transition with ease into the technical metal juggernaut that they can be. Augment of Rebirth is BTBAM collectively at their heaviest on The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues.
03. Lunar Wilderness: The beginning starts off with a nice ambient passage that is very melodic, and the precision of how guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring can change pace while sounding so natural is incredible. Sure they've been known to do this, but aesthetically, I see Lunar Wilderness as one of BTBAM's best in a while. Lunar Wilderness closes on such a memorable and melodic note, and with its calm yet ever so welcoming atmosphere, BTBAM definitely leaves the listener hungry for more.
Lyrics — 8
Mr. Tommy Rogers is once again at the top of his game. I think his lows sound great like usual, and it is quite incredible when you've got a group of such talented musicians that you as the vocalist have to sync your voice to somehow, and Rogers nails every transition with ease. I haven't heard him this focused in a while. His clean singing in the softer parts isn't spectacular, but it does get the job done. Lyrically, BTBAM once again goes the extra mile with some deep lyrical concepts. The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is a two-part story, this EP being part one. Part one introduces 2 human characters separated by millions of light years, and whom are on two totally different planes of existence. Both characters confront similar personal issues, though each makes different decisions given their mindset, and therefore determine the future(s) for both themselves, and for the universe, eternally. Yep, pretty deep concept here, and if you keep the lyrical direction of this album in mind when you're listening, certain bits and pieces may tie together for you.
Overall Impression — 9
As one of the most creative metal outfits of today, anything BTBAM related is worth a listen. BTBAM has always given listeners a unique and challenging listen, in which more than one full-album spin is mandatory to grasp all the details of their music. Their live performance is just as jaw dropping as their studio magic. Catch them on their upcoming headlining tour with support from Job For A Cowboy, The Ocean, and Cephalic Carnage (on select dates). While it seems a lot of bands today can make some technical / trippy songs, a very select few can ignore the concept of genre, expand metal into unimaginable dimensions, and yet make it sound truly great without making one big sloppy mess. BTBAM is one of the select few. The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is definitely the next chapter into the brilliance that is BTBAM, and the band is surely still in a league of their own.