For those that know me. I normally tend to do my reviews of albums at the end of the year, to make for a grandiose Best Of The Year round up. This year, I'm still going to do that, but I also wanna cover albums that deserve the love the whole year round. When I got the opportunity to check out the brand new BTBAM album, there was no way I couldn't put my thoughts into words for all of you to enjoy!
Between The Buried And Me is about to release their 8th album Automata I March 9th (Along with Automata II out in June 2018) through their new home at Sumerian Records. After celebrating last year with the 10th anniversary tour of arguably their biggest album to date, Colors, the band has never been known for making the same album twice. So what does BTBAM have in store for us this time? A Caribbean Ska-Core album? A collection of Austrian TV Show Themes? A 7" Split with Taylor Swift? Not this time around! The band has actually decided to take Automata and release it in two parts and show that the band has grown even more since their last album, Coma Ecliptic. But how you ask? Let me explain!
The album starts with Condemed To The Gallows, which is available to check out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq8u0uDK61E Right off the bat, with it's clean guitar intro, you can feel the band is going to kick it in a big way, you just don't know when. Rather than showing off their more death metal sides as done in the past, it kicks more into a heavier prog and synth heavy intro before the systematic brutality begins. Adding a lot more atmosphere, the band brings back more growls than previously seen, while keeping the more prog rock influence in tact. Imagine if Colors was made my TesseracT. The half way point of the song features some beautiful guitar soloing that while brief, is highly effective. Immediately after this brings one of the heaviest moments on the album with a breakdown that is quite reminiscent of The Silent Circus days before kicking back into its prog antics, before eventually ending where it began with it's haunting clean guitar riffs before turning into static.
With this static, it immediately goes into House Organ. A peppier and false hope giving happy sounding intro before kicking into it's mid-tempo goodness. Organ filled riffs are going on among the calculated BTBAM formula. More of the atmospheric guitars filled up the mellow moments of the track. If you have to compare this track to anything in the back catalog, it hearkens back to Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain. And before you know it, it's done at 3:41 in length.
Quite possibly the best track on the album is next, Yellow Eyes. The synths and some of the guitar riffing brings heavy Pain of Salvation vibes while mixing a bit of the Hypersleep era of BTBAM with it. A little before half way through, the Mike Patton style vocals make their comeback in a short, but effect manner. before kicking into my favorite riff of the album. The song Sings "YELLOW EYES" before kicking back down to a very Opeth flavored mellow groove. Once again, the atmospheric guitars make an appearance as everyone else goes absolutely insane with their riffing and vocal melodies. A very catchy electronic synth and snare drum duo riff kicks off the last bridge of the song before bringing things back around chorus style. 7:30 brings one of my favorite solos on the album, which again feels like it could have fit so perfectly on a Pain of Salvation album. With that it brings the end of the track that is layered in haunting synths to bring on the next track.
Millions comes up next and it's one of the most left of center BTBAM songs. While being in 5/4 for a majority of it It battles between a spooky 80s throwback, an Indie Rock Top 40 single, and classic BTBAM Prog Rock. The second half of the song features more short and effective orchestration before going into dark Mr. Bungle/Dillinger Escape Plan groove territory with the song ends with fading drums that remind you of DEP's Black Bubblegum before synths kick into the next track.
Gold Distance is the Veridian of this album. A short segue way that features beautiful soundscapes and guitar that just lasts a minute and two seconds in length before kicking into the final epic.
Blot is the album's lone epic track, sitting in at 10:27. The song starts with a very Middle-Eastern feel, which the band has explored in the past. This all leads to riffing that feels right at home with other all star epics such as White Walls and Swim To The Moon. The majority of the verse riffs are at the same mid-tempo, with short bursts of blast beats and growls thrown in from out of nowhere. Then it kicks into classic Colors style riffing but with a renewed sense of purpose, adding much more variety and atmosphere. The chorus is one of the happiest sounding moments in BTBAM's catalog. The middle segment of the song features some fantastic Middle-Eastern style soloing mixed in with some great prog riffing underneath before going into White Walls/Ants in the Sky style territory with it's mellow somber sounds mixed in with rim clicks. After exploring what is possible with this, the song begins to build and build and build until it.....brings silence. But just for a couple seconds as it leads into one of the other heaviest moments on the record. Kids who need a reason to thrown down in the pit will love this riff to bits. This leads back into the ever glowing chorus that grows and grows into a quite angry prog riff that goes ballistic and then....cuts, almost abruptly. With a feeling of "Hey, that can't be it. WHAT COMES NEXT?" A perfect musical cliffhanger while we wait for Automata II.
All in all, BTBAM has found a way to reinvent themselves while keeping their integrity in check and making fans of any era of the band happy. If you love your brutal riffs, it happens in all the right moments. Do you love the prog wackiness? That is shown all the proper love. Do you want the band to explore new territory such as more atmospheric moments? Automata I is filled to the brim with atmosphere.
Clocking in at a little over 35 minutes, this feels like a complete BTBAM album that leaves you wanting more, and thankfully, we are getting more in June. What will those last 4 Automata songs be? 4 epics? 4 top 40 singles? Pure instrumental atmosphere you play over top Automata I (Actually, that may be a cool idea if done right) but we will have to find out down the road. Till then, get excited for Automata I. BTBAM in 2018 is bringing everything to the table and it will leave you wanting MORE!
Between The Buried And Me- Automata I is available March 9th through Sumerian Records.
Check out Condemned to the Gallows here: