10 Aug 2021 - Daniel F.
Progressive Metal | Sumerian Records | Release date: 20 Aug 2021
Back in 2007, Between The Buried And Me released Colours, an album that catapulted them into progressive metal stardom courtesy of its unfaltering commitment to artistic integrity. It broke new ground in their search for everything bigger, bolder and more precise than anything that had preceded it. As something of a springboard, it helped drive future success, with following albums only cementing their position as a modern great. And now, the sequel is born, and Colours II sees them pick up where they left off fourteen years ago, eager to impress and push the experimental metal envelope.
It was the pandemic that ultimately prompted this follow up. While the wheels of the world screeched to a halt, the cogs began to turn in the minds of Between The Buried And Me, a band suddenly fully aware that they wanted to pour all their energy into a new album. This was their attempt to turn the spotlight back onto themselves and do something emphatic. The result is the kitchen sink of modern metal, firmly lodged in the ideologies the band has etched into their very being. Again, it’s big, it’s bold, it’s precise.
As with any band with a penchant for experimentation on their albums, they haven’t been averse to splitting opinion at times. More recent albums have seen them veer away from some of the heavier, more frenetic attributes, but Colours II has something for everyone to indulge. Across it’s eighty-minute runtime, it could be perceived as something of a career highlight reel, collating the very best the band has offered with planetary pull. Opener ”Monochrome” starts delicate, gradually gaining pace before forcing us face first into the utter madness of ”The Double Helix Of Extinction”. We’re thrust through white-water freneticism and battering drums, which slide seamlessly amongst jazzy guitar structure and riffs that gallop towards the next track, ”Revolution In Limbo”. Something of an early album highlight, the turbulence continues, but we’re now also exposed to sweeping prog soundscapes that grow into death metal heaviness around the midpoint, before dropping into a more mellow section, composed of carnival-esq guitar and soft drums.
Following this cirque-du-prog metal is lead single ”Fix The Error” and the near twelve-minute opus ”Never Seen/Future Shock”, two tracks that continue to dominate our eardrums with fretboard wizardry and undying skill. One of the key requirements for this album was to allow each track to flow amongst themselves. Between The Buried And Me have never been ones for conventional song structure, but if ever they did possess a rule book, they’ve cast it to the flames this time round, as each track bends and meanders, each as immersive and diverse as the last. The switch is so often flicked between heavy and melodic that it’s a wonder the fuse hasn’t blown.
From a vocal perspective, the album is equally disparate. Excerpts such as ”Bad Habits” see the band interweaving screams between haunted cleans, dancing between the instrumentation to further accentuate the album’s themes. Throw in a guitar solo that whips though the track like the Whomping Willow and you’re left with yet another Between The Buried And Me hit. Equally, ”The Future Is Behind Us” and ”Turbulent” continue to boggle the mind with their seemingly endless ingenuity and eclectic range.
Honestly, how many eighty-minute albums can you say you’ve listened that haven’t lost your attention or become boring halfway through. It isn’t unheard of, but they are few and far between, and Colours II certainly fits the mould. When Between The Buried And Me embarked on this journey, they wanted to write the “best album they could”. Most would agree that it is likely the best of their glittering discography, captivating from the start. It is as cathartic as it is moving, as brash as it is concise. Closing out the album with a fifteen-minute long pièce de résistance feels like a mere formality at this point, but that’s exactly how Between The Buried And Me chose to conclude, with ”Human Is Hell (Another One With Love)” blowing our minds one last time.
Come 20th August, Colours II will finally be unveiled, and will surely be received with the same acclaim as its predecessor. If part one marked Between The Buried And Me as one of the best progressive metal bands out there, part two confirms beyond doubt that they’re also one of the most important.