Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

Since 2007, everything the North Carolina progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me released has been compared to what is considered their opus, Colors. The follow up, The Great Misdirect was extremely solid, but the only thing keeping it from Colors status was its lack of cohesion.

In 2011, Between the Buried and Me decided to start a two-part epic concept album with the release of their EP, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. For the most part, Hypersleep was BTBAM as usual, except there were a lot more ‘spacey’ elements on it, which made sense due to the concept.

The sequel to Hypersleep Dialogues, entitled The Parallax II: Future Sequence retains those spacey elements and brings The Parallax’s story to a close. The story is actually quite deep and grandiose, and while that’s great, that’s not what you came for is it? You came for technicality, genre bending, and the occasional blastbeat.

Anyone coming looking for those three will be pleased, that’s for sure. Incredible guitar licks, soaring clean vocals, brutal growls, and time signatures as static as Megadeth’s lineup  fill this album’s 72 minutes.

You get a few references to part one of the Parallax, the most obvious one is in “Extremophile Elite”, where the band plays and sings part of “Specular Reflection”.

Between the Buried and Me decided to try something new on this record: They decided to put in separate  tracks between the epic songs to serve as spaces between the music and to give some narrative to the story.

Musically, the band seems to get stronger and stronger, and while they’ve always been compared to Dream Theater, this album really shows that Dream Theater are their biggest influence. The addition of more of Tommy Rogers’ keyboards and their song structures are similar to when Jordan Rudess joined Dream Theater and the music became more keyboard heavy (and longer).

I don’t want to spoil the surprise of what genres Between the Buried and Me spastically incorporate into their songs, but I will say that Bloom is tons of fun to listen to.

But the question remains, is it better than Colors? As one of the biggest fans of Colors, I’m excited to say yes. It really shows off where Between the Buried and Me are musically in 2012. The songs are there, the spaces are there, the awesome keyboards are there, and most importantly, the cohesion is there.

My first scored review is a

5/5

Good way to start.

Born of Osiris – The Discovery

Image

Born of Osiris has been one of my favorite bands since I first heard The New Reign in 2008. Back then, they were mostly a deathcore band that had some pretty interesting rhythms that weren’t found in most deathcore, especially at that time. When A Higher Place came out, I was initially disappointed in it, that it wasn’t that similar to The New Reign. After listening to it, I realized it was taking them in a new direction, one that can’t really be pinpointed to a genre. It was heavier and more melodic at the same time. More progressive.

Then comes The Discovery. Fifteen tracks of the best music Born of Osiris has ever made. The production was a lacking factor on A Higher Place and it is vastly improved upon on this album. The band’s excellent rhythm section is given a better seat in the mix, instead of just existing to service the mids and highs of the guitar work.

Guitarist Jason Richardson (formerly of All Shall Perish, now in Chelsea Grin) is easily the best performer on this record. Unlike most music of this genre, Richardson’s guitar parts maintain some personality while still having a lot of sweeps and solo elements.

Over the course of Born of Osiris’s career they’ve implemented keyboards more and more into their music. Keyboardist Joe Buras adds extra layers of texture to the already heavily layered music, but it never feels overloaded or too busy. Buras also lays down some vocals that are, in my opinion, even better than vocalist Ronnie Canizaro’s.

If you’re into deathcore or want to hear something pretty interesting and unique, check out  The Discovery. It’s easily the best Born of Osiris record and I’m interested to see where they go from here.

Liturgy – Renihilation and Aesthetica

Liturgy. Lots has been said about Liturgy over the past year or so, specifically about Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the vocalist and a guitarist for the group. What most people think of when they think of Liturgy is four hipsters talking about their invention of “Transcendental Black Metal”. Hendrix wrote a manifesto about his coined term Transcendental Black Metal outlining exactly what it is. It contains a list of characteristics Transcendental Black Metal has. For example, instead of blast beats, TBM has “burst beats”. Hendrix also talks about how there is a “substratum of chaos” and elements of romanticism in black metal that has been lost. Hendrix’s idea of TBM is that it’s a rejection of black metal, but also taking it as seriously as you can take it.

After all of this talk about Liturgy, you would think that they’re either the most pretentious idiots on earth or they’re out to change the face of black metal permanently. With all of this context, it’s almost impossible to listen to Liturgy without thinking about what everyone is flipping out about, all this backstory about Hunter.

But when it comes down to the music, you’ll find an interesting vision of modern black metal. Liturgy doesn’t set out to ape the classic bands like Darkthrone and Mayhem. They also aren’t mimicking more modern black metal bands like Wolves in the Throne Room or Skagos. The end product is a blend of the speed and brutality of the classic black metal, with some of the elegance of the new stuff.

Image

Their first album, Renihilnation is pretty solid. It’s a short trip through what Liturgy is all about. There’s been a lot said about this album, so I’ll just suggest you listen to it to find out. There are some solid grooves, moments of absolute chaos, and bloodcurdling screams. What more could you want?

ImageThen we come to Aesthethica, which I think will be hard for the band to top. “High Gold” starts off with an effect that I don’t understand but it’s awesome sounding.  It sounds almost like raindrops on a guitar plugged into a low quality amp, growing faster and more intense until the band finally kicks in with full force.

What I’m most impressed with in Liturgy is their musicianship. These dudes can play, there’s no doubt about that. They’re young but it sounds like they’re completely in tune with each other. Black metal often falls out of rhythm and the drums are a constant blast beat with a variation or two every once in a while. Liturgy definitely has a lot of “burst” beats, but a lot of times, drummer Greg Fox (who isn’t in the band anymore) is doing a lot of different things. The drums are something to be marveled at with Greg’s ability to perform lots of fills and still keep the rhythm amongst all the cacophony.

If you’re not afraid to listen to what most black metal purists call “hipster black metal”, listen to Liturgy. Aesthethica is definitely in my top albums of last year and I’m feverishly looking forward to what Liturgy is going to do in the future. Whatever, purists. You’re missing out dudes.

Notes on Vader – The Ultimate Incantation

Image

Vader’s The Ultimate Incantation is my first Vader album, and I figured instead of reviewing it, I would give notes on my first listen. They’re a bit disorganized, but that’s how it goes I guess.

I don’t have too much to say on the intro, “Creation”. It sets the mood for more of a slower, more crushing band, which is a misconception I had about Vader.

Dark Age starts and immediately shows you what Vader is about. Claim your purism all you want, but I’m hearing Kerry King in these solos. In the vocal department, I’m really liking it. They’re gutteral but they have another quality to them that I can’t quite pinpoint.

At this point, minus a few of the death metal elements like deep growls and the occasional blastbeat, this is really starting to remind me of a classic Slayer album. I love me some Slayer so this is alright. So far my favorite track is “Final Massacre”. The opening is heavy and it has the makings of an epic, like Slayer’s “Raining Blood”.

I’ve failed to mention the great production on this. It sounds like classic death metal but the guitars sound great. It’s easy to discern the notes and there’s a great tone going on here.

The opening to Testimony slows it down just a little bit, which is what every great thrash album needs. At least a couple moments of less speed so the listener can catch their breath. Vader’s slower moments so far have been my favorite. That’s where their riffs really shine.

The last track, “Breath of Centuries” was pretty awesome. I liked the heavy bells in the intro and then how the song lets loose. Great closer.

Overall I can say I’ll be returning to this and other Vader albums. I don’t know anything about Vader albums after this, so I don’t know if they have the same style or not. I’m liking this a lot, but I’d be more interested to see what they could do at a slower pace.

Defeated Sanity – Chapters of Repugnance

Image

Call them what you want, Defeated Sanity are one of the most brutal bands out there. They manage to achieve the brutality of bands like early Decrepit Birth without having all of the overboard guitar stuff of Brain Drill. Defeated Sanity doesn’t change a thing with their new LP, Chapters of Repugnance, but that’s okay. You don’t get a bunch of over the top solos, decipherable lyrics, or any room to breathe, which is what you want, right? What you do get is nine songs of the most intense and pounding metal laid to tape.

The guitars mostly chug along, with an occasional squeal or two. Most of the technicality lies in the drums. Drummer Lille Gruber is without a doubt in the upper echelon of death metal drummers, especially with so many death metal bands using drum machines now. 

My only real complaints are with a couple things in the production. Due to the distortion of the guitars, it’s hard to tell when the notes are changing, especially during the chugging parts.  Also, the vocals could do with being a little less monotone. They’re fine, but a little more variation would make them great. 

The “Job for a Cowboy Syndrome”

Bands change. Job for a cowboy released Doom in 2005. It was strictly a deathcore album, and that’s what really kicked off their career. Unfortunately, anyone who doesn’t like deathcore has completely written off Job for a Cowboy. What you may not know if you disregarded the band since Doom is that they’ve released three full length albums since then that are a solid example of modern death metal. If you haven’t heard them since Doom or maybe even their full length debut Genesis, which was pretty good, you should check out their new one, Demonocracy. It’s as brutal as anything you purists are listening to these days.