Review: “Colors II” by Between The Buried And Me

Written throughout 2020 remotely before congregating at The Basement Studios in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with longtime producer Jamie King (The Contortionist, He Is Legend, Dead Man In Reno), the tenth studio album from Progressive Metallers Between The Buried And Me is something of a brave choice. Instead of adhering to a conceptual thread as they have in the past, the conditions gave the concept meaning and thus the band chose to title the record as the sequel to arguably their most successful and well known album “Colors“, despite a 13 year gap and five albums between the pairing. It’s brave because of the accolades which it’s predecessor achieved, not only being critically acclaimed but setting some seriously high water marks for Progressive Metal as a whole.

Between The Buried And Me first came to our attention when the predecessor to “Colors“, the well received “Alaska” landed and saw the band join Ozzfest as a Progressive Death Metal outfit of legendary status which found Tommy Rogers (lead vocals, keyboards), Paul Waggoner (lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals), Dustie Waring (rhythm and lead guitar), Blake Richardson (drums), and Dan Briggs (bass, keyboards) wondering “Where do we belong in this music scene?“. Something that the band have mentioned in interviews as a question they still struggle with today. Perhaps that’s simply down to how unique the music they create is, having always chose the path less traveled rather than sticking to a genre, something which puts them in the same category as someone like Devin Townsend or Mike Patton. A little bit eccentric, a little bit eclectic and always pushing the boundaries of the listener while rewarding them at the same time. Over the duration of their 20 year career to date those extremes have pushed out increasingly further with the band exploring creativity to new, hiterto uncharted territories. So how does “Colors II” fit into the jigsaw puzzle?

Well, the answer is that “Colors II” flows in the same way that “Colors” does with each song moving in waves like an orchestral piece with graceful sub-genre crossing and many of the same instruments and stylings as the original. Fans will not feel short changed as this is a full on 80 minute experience, an album of such quality that it would actually benefit from being heard in a cinema where you can block out all other senses and just focus on it and enjoy it start to finish in its entirety, from the aching piano and clean vocals of “Monochrome” to the mid track Samba part of “Revolution In Limbo“. That part is inspired by Faith No More and is one of million Easter Egg nuggets within the album that pop out of the mix and grab you with a knowing smile, part of a song which as the album does, covers everything from  Progressive Rock to Acid Jazz to Traditional and Death Metal territory with the mid boggling as to how they managed to put it all together. The vibrancy of single “Fix The Error” is just majestic and glorious as it bounces along in similar fashion to recent works by Californian Melodic Death Metallers Nekrogoblikon. The cut features a trio of drum solos from three special guests that would be the last thing you might expect and is reminiscent of the concept that New York Avant-garde Metallers Imperial Triumphant took into their critically acclaimed album “Alphaville” where Tomas Haake of  Meshuggah played that role. There was always the fear with Between The Buried And Me that they would lose their heavier leanings as they developed their sound as while they will never be as heavy as they were in “The Silent Circus” days, that edge is still very much there, “Bad Habits” for example has a nice brutal segment in the middle and as a result the plays on light and shade here are immense. The vocals are particularly well blended, Rogers making good use of his full range from savage uncleans to the choir boy Angelic cleans and everything in between. He’s never been afraid to cut from one to another and as with the music, the traditional song structure is something that this band laugh in the face of while still managing to make everything fit together like a Jigsaw puzzle. As strange as some of their ideas might be (80’s synth pop cheese and Death Metal in “The Future Is Behind Us“), it all works so well together, creating an album that is both stunningly beautiful and seriously good fun. The musicianship is second to none and it’s clear that a lot of work has gone in to deliver the vision that the band had for this record, outdoing themselves by setting a very ambitious target and then managing to pull it off. Sequels to films are rarely as the original but in the same way as the Alien or Terminator franchises went same same but different and stood up with a quality second film in it’s own right, Between The Buried And Me have done the same here [8.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Monochrome
  2. The Double Helix of Extinction
  3. Revolution In Limbo
  4. Fix The Error (ft. Drum Solos by Mike Portnoy ex-Dream Theatre (solo 1), Navene Koperweis of Entheos (solo 2), and Ken Schalk of Candiria (solo 3))
  5. Never Seen/Future Shock
  6. Stare Into The Abyss
  7. Prehistory
  8. Bad Habits
  9. The Future Is Behind Us
  10. Turbulent
  11. Sfumato
  12. Human Is Hell (Another One With Love)

“Colors II” by Between The Buried And Me is out 20th August 2021 via Sumerian Records.

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