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Between The Buried And Me Automata II

2018 Sumerian Records

A praiseworthy sequel.

Between The Buried And Me - Automata II

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As the closing half to Between The Buried And Me‘s ‘Automata‘ arc that began with “Automata I” earlier this year, “Automata II” continues the band’s prolific streak with a chapter that recalls some of their most adventurous forays.

Admittedly it will still take a certain degree of attention and fandom to digest the central themes of the included concept—a fictional company dubbed the ‘Voice Of Trespass’ that broadcasts the dreams of a man for entertainment purposes and his discovery and reaction to this—but even is you toss that aside, the instrumental portion of the music is as cerebral as they come.

While recent releases have seen Between The Buried And Me laser focused on a crafting a densely heavy world of prog oriented technical metal with increasingly pervasive electronic elements; “Automata II” finds them hewing closer to their more eccentric side with a boost in analog minded instrumentation.

This trend is proudly displayed on the 1-2 punch of the segue-like “Glide” which serves as the opening to “Voice Of Trespass“—a freaky full-fledged gypsy jazz circus, complete with unabashed revelry, serrated riffs and throaty bellows.

It’s a highly ambitious track that draws from the well of acts like Mr. Bungle & Dog Fashion Disco and plays out like the volatile phases of a gracefully controlled experiment. While it doesn’t exactly tread new ground for Between The Buried And Me, it is somewhat uncharacteristic of their more recent work and delights as a result.

What makes a song like it so special is that its more outlandish moments aren’t limited to a bridge or quick aside. There’s been a tendency for Between The Buried And Me to limit their more eccentric forays to brief excursions in the past few years and on “Automata II” these North Carolina natives instead opt to fully explore them. The end result is near track length adventures that stitch together conflicting genres with horns, accordions, etc., allowing the band to create some big picture moments.

If you’ve found recent Between The Buried And Me output to be a bit too chaotic and restrained, then this latest release will be a welcome return to form. With triumphant proggy soloing, ferocious metal virtuosity, acoustic melodies and more also still in place, it’s a well-balanced take on the impressive musical feats this group have long been capable of.

Not since “The Great Misdirect” has this outfit been this indulgent and passionate about smashing through musical boundaries and letting their more peculiar moments take root. Thanks to this, “Automata II” feels distanced from the pummeling sensory overload found on their latter works. Its relatively brief running time of just over thirty minutes is also surprisingly a boon, allowing it to emerge as a thrilling and concise step back outside of the box.

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