Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic
Release Date: July 10, 2015
Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM) have been doing some very interesting things with their music and with each album they release they give their listeners a new experience to go through. Of late, they’ve been on a concept album spree with their previous album (The Parallax Parts 1 and 2) and the one before that (The Great Misdirect) almost being a concept album. With Coma Ecliptic they’ve set out to tell us another story; one of a man stuck in a coma.
Right from the first song, when the upswell comes in, you know you are in for something special. From a musical perspective, this album is the most fun rollercoaster ride I’ve been on. You won’t know what is coming around the next corner but whatever it may be, you know you’re going to have fun. Coma Ecliptic is riddled with BTBAM’s signature Death Metal meets Progressive Metal style, however, they seem to be leaning more towards progressive metal on this record. There is way more clean vocal work by Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. with the harsh vocals present in bits and pieces throughout the album. So if you are going into this album hoping for some harsh vocals you probably will be disappointed in that aspect. I personally have no issue with the abundance cleans on this album; it’s done well and fits the musical tone of the record.
In a recent interview with Metalholic, the band has been referring to Coma Ecliptic as a rock opera, and I can see why. The distortion on the guitars is toned down quite a bit (don’t worry there is still plenty of chug present). The band uses Queen-like vocal harmonies in many songs which add to the dream-like atmosphere that they are going for on the album. The first set of songs spanning from “Nod” to “King Redeem – Queen Serene” are connected, with each song leading into the next to make it seem like it is one long song. Much to my dismay though, this trend doesn’t continue past “King Redeem – Queen Serene”. The songs begin to stand on their own with no lead-ins or fade outs shared between the songs until toward the end of the album when the last few songs begin to link up again. It would have been an amazing listen if the whole album sounded like one mega-song, but I guess if everyone got what they wanted, this world would be a much weirder place.
The highlights on this album for me are two specific instances; the first one is the song “Dim Ignition” and the amazing drum fills provided by Blake Richardson; the second is the crazy flamenco guitar part in “Turn on the Darkness”.
The production on the album is really strong. Everything sounds crystal clear from the keyboards to the bass guitar, none of the instruments sound too overpowered. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring on guitar offer dynamic performances. Their unpredictable guitar riffs, licks and amazing solos are what make this album unique. Blake Richardson on drums is a fills genius; I cannot even understand how he plays some of the stuff he does on this album. Dan Briggs on bass is great at complementing the guitars and drums: He has his own unique style of accompaniment, occasionally going off and doing his own thing separate from what the guitars are doing. This adds greatly to the complexity and layers in the songs on the record. Tommy Rogers on vocals and keyboards has outdone himself. His cleans soar over everything and his harsh vocals or awesome as always. Even more impressive is his effortless shifts between these two styles–he has definitely perfected the art. The keyboard work on this album is outstanding too, though not used in a manner that most progressive bands use it; with solos and parts which complement the guitar. The keyboard on this album is used minimally and more as a tool to set up the atmosphere of each song.
Coma Ecliptic is an amazing journey into a coma patient’s mind and who better to take you in this journey than BTBAM. This album is one of the best works the band has produced. Along with Parallax, this album will be an inspiration to so many young bands out there. Between the Buried and Me have set the bar high with this effort and I don’t know how they can surpass what they’ve produced here, but that’s what I thought when I heard their last album.