Thursday, September 13, 2007

Between the Buried and Me :: Colors

Between the Buried and Me: ColorsArtist :: Between the Buried and Me
Album :: Colors
Label :: Victory Records

In a word :: Landmark

Play this Cut first :: Ants of the Sky

Before we get started, I want you to go to your calendar, find September 18th, and make two notes:

1. Pick up Between the Buried and Me's new CD, Colors.
2. Bring a clothes pin.

The reasons for the first should become very clear. The second is because, on September 18th, when this album drops, there will be a definite odor in the air. It will be the unmistakable scent of pants being shat from coast to coast. Because that's what this album is going to do to people.

Lets go back about 20 years. Bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus, and Testament were pushing the limits of rock, creating a genre that later became known as thrash metal. In 1986, Metallica dropped Master of Puppets and clearly defined themselves as the trendsetter in the genre. Years later, between 1990 and 1992 a barrage of brilliant albums came from the genre, including Metallica, Rust in Peace, The Sound of White Noise, Seasons in the Abyss, The Ritual, Vulgar Display of Power, and more. I believe, however, that it was Master of Puppets that set those wheels in motion.

Between the Buried and Me: Band PhotoOkay, here we are in 2007. For several years a number of bands such as Shadows Fall and Lamb of God (to name a couple) have been working to build an extreme metal scene that relies on musicianship, harmonies, melodies, and arrangements for power, just as much as it relies on bombastic speed and grindcore riffs.

Between the Buried and Me has certainly been a major player in the scene since their debut in 2003. Colors, however, clearly serves as the landmark album in the genre thus far. I mean, it's not even close.

The depth and range of talent on Colors is staggering. From the Queen-esque intro of "Foam Born (a ) The Backtrack" to the immediate power grindage that follows in "(b ) The Decade of the Statues". It's a tremendous shift in gears that almost gets lost in the wash of rapid fire snare pounding and cymbal wash. It's almost a baptism by fire that purifies the listener and opens the soul for the musical genius that follows.

Yes, I said genius.

Albums like this don't happen by accident. They are coolly planned and arranged. They are the product of a vision to breaks down the barriers of a genre and bring to fruition the potential that has been shown by all of the bands who have built in on their backs.

Colors is a Dark Side of the Moon. It is a Master of Puppets.

At times, Between the Buried and Me sound like Dream Theater. At times, they sound like Coldplay. And at times they sound like Cannibal Corpse. The challenge naturally, then, is to blend all of those elements together in a way that doesn't sound forced, and retains their own sense of identity. For good measure, songs transition into jazz jams, polka breaks, Latin boogies, and more. Not only has this not been tried before, but the coherence of the effort carries established themes through these transitions much the way a classical composer might. All the while we are never more than couple steps away from pure extreme metal aggression that is the staple of the genre.

And for all it accomplishes, Colors doesn't sound so much like an album that was designed to one up other powerhouses of field. It sounds like the product of five immensely talented musicians who pushed each other and demanded the best from each other. And to borrow a phrase from the sports world, they didn't leave anything on the court.

When I listen to Colors I think, "How can they, or anybody else ever top this?" And that is a great thought. It's the same thought that took the brilliance of Master of Puppets and used it as a catalyst to bring about the true golden years of thrash. I get chills thinking (or maybe just hoping) that this album could be the beginning of something much, much bigger.

If nothing else, Colors brings a new level of respect to a genre that hasn't ever really gotten much of that. And it does it in a way that doesn't sell out the hardcore supporters who have been extolling the legitimate merits of extreme metal for years.

Best Cuts on the Album :: Ants of the Sky, White Walls, Sun of Nothing

The Bottom Line :: Make sure your stereo gear is working and you have a good clothes pin (maybe even a spare), because on September 18th, extreme metal as you know it will change forever.

1 comment:

leprechaun said...

Excellent post, man. Agreed with you at lots of points. Few people unfortunately, understood at once the role of this album.