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Between The Buried And Me Automata I

2018 Sumerian Records

A man can dream.

Between The Buried And Me - Automata I

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It should come as no surprise that Between The Buried And Me have once again struck out with a concept as heady as their own material. “Automata I” serves as the first half of a two-part series of releases which deals with the ‘Voice Of Trespass’—a fictional company that broadcasts (and perhaps manipulates?) the dreams of a man for entertainment purposes.

Musically this amounts to a virtuosic, ever-shifting soundscape of vibrant progressive metal. Impenetrable density and towering song structures slowly unveil their twisted architecture before rebuilding themselves into something unrecognizable in the blink of an eye. Despite the band’s frequent adjustments to tempo and emotional tint though, each song retains a strong sense of continuity.

Throughout the journey the listener will be treated to elements that dabble in standard high-end prog rock (“Millions“,) vocal refrains that recall Alice In ChainsLayne Staley (“Yellow Eyes“) and a whole lot more. It’s a total headphone record that reveals something new with each listen—the B3 organ in “House Organ” and the electric sitar in “Blot” being prime examples.

While only six songs deep, there’s some lengthy cuts that play out almost like movements, setting up the emotionally packed sonic flourishes to come. Ultimately the first half of the record primarily indulges in euphoria and viciousness and the latter half feels galvanized by a sense of self-realization and aggressive defiance. The closing track in particular (“Blot“) balances these halves with an expressive counterpoint approach.

As with most of Between The Buried And Me‘s catalog, the mood swings are instantaneous and the voyage to the end of a track is inherently erratic. The intricacy of the band’s song craft is certainly imposing to try to mentally dissect.

Moments of crushing ferocity seamlessly mix with haunting melodies and triumphant displays of technical ability. Even with multiple listens you’re still forced to surrender yourself to the band’s will—it’s just that challenging to digest.

That said, one shouldn’t expect any of the band’s more eclectic interests to emerge. Most of “Automata I” takes on a futuristic, electronic bent when it comes to superfluous effects and prevailing atmosphere. The songwriting is also incredibly compact with little room to breathe, especially with such an unrelenting pace.

Sure you may get a ripping Vai-esque solo here or a soaring clean vocal part there, but these moments are fleeting. Eventually each part change folds in on itself, revealing some previously unseen new avenue.

All that said, “Automata I” remains fairly insulated and isn’t likely to endear itself immediately to new fans. Instead it adds even more velocity and prowess to the path the band began to head down with “The Parallax“. The band have gone deeper into their own headspace and those already acquainted with it will surely find much to revel in here.

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