Review: Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

So, lately I’ve been a little disenchanted with the underground music scene, having not found a lot of talent worth getting really stoked about. With that being said, I think any BTBAM release is worth getting at least a little excited over, and on Parallax II, they don’t disappoint.

The album opens with the stripped down and surreal “Goodbye to Everything”, which muses “look what’s in front of you, an endless journey…let’s reach off together”. It’s a good indication… or warning, of what’s to come. The electric guitar fades in on “Astral Body” and this journey begins. What’s interesting about BTBAM’s music, especially in later work, is that their songs can be borderline exhausting (both in length and complexity) for the listener, and yet the band sound like they aren’t even breaking a sweat. Effortlessly pulling off unbelievable time signatures, tempo changes and jumps between genres sounds like business as usual for these guys. The jazz breakdowns and Disney-villain-sing-along interludes with that organ you hear at hockey games are among my favourite parts. The magnificent “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” and more sinister “Bloom” are particularly good examples of this versatility.

At times I actually found myself laughing or at least smiling at what I was hearing, which is a perfectly good thing; I can tell that these guys had fun making this music. It reminds me of Protest the Hero’s later work, especially Fortress, which shares this sense of whimsy and fun intertwined with their hard-hitting music… and there is plenty of hard hitting here as well. The breakdown(s) (admittedly they’re sometimes hard to distinguish with these guys) in the second half of “Extremophile Elite” and around the three minute mark in the fifteen minute juggernaut “Silent Flight Parliament” are stellar; perhaps the most vicious moments on the record. Lyrics…to put it simply they are fitting to the rest of the concept. Instrumentation is still definitely BTBAM’s strong suit, there’s nothing profound being said here, but they play the part in this epic, if slightly nerdy narrative that has been composed.

Weak aspects? There aren’t many. The only write-off song I’ve found is the 2 minutes of static and feedback that is “Autumn”. I know it’s trendy to put short tracks on an album as transition points, but “Autumn” hardly even serves that purpose, to me it just stands out as filler on an album that really has no space needing to be filled.

Secondly, to anyone familiar with BTBAM’s work, Parallax II is just as magnificent and musically impressive as we’ve come to expect. However, this in itself is a pitfall, as it is predictably remarkable, not bringing anything particularly new to their repertoire. Lastly, as I said, Parallax II sounds like a walk in the park for them to perform, just another day in the office. This effortless sound, combined with the aforementioned sense of fun comes at the expense of it losing its sense of urgency. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the majority of bands in this scene struggle with too much urgency to the point of redundancy; it’s merely an observation.

The consensus: Parallax II: Future Sequence is a brilliant album by a brilliant band, make no mistake. Every aspect of it is well thought-out and calculated by a band that has mastered their craft, or are very near to it. It pleases the adventurous prog-metal fans (like me) that enjoy jazz interludes and the like, but also packs a punch for listeners geared towards the hardcore. It’ll definitely please long time fans the most, but should be able to rope in some new ones. An excellent effort all around. Now, after the completion of the Parallax albums, I’m very interested as to where they’re going to go next.

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