Between the Buried and Me

Parallax II: Future Sequence

01. Goodbye to Everything
02. Astral Body
03. Lay Your Ghosts To Rest
04. Autumn
05. Extremophile Elite
06. Parallax
07. The Black Box
08. Telos
09. Bloom
10. Melting City
11. Silent Flight Parliament
12. Goodbye to Everything Reprise

[10/09/12]
[Metal Blade Records]

How much further can progressive top-dogs Between the Buried and Me possibly go in a career defined by ambition and unparallelled musicianship? It could be — and has been — argued that their 2007’s Colors is their opus and crowning achievement, and such a modern classic would be near-impossible to top. Of course, Between The Buried And Me were never concerned with retreading past triumphs, instead focusing on the next big thing and making further developments and growth to their craft. 2011 saw the band make a bold move towards the intriguing realm of concept records and furthering their prog credentials with their EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, which introduced two strangely linked characters that are faced with the task of saving mankind. A year later, the highly anticipated continuance of the story, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, builds on everything they’ve done up to this point to create a new apex in their already acclaimed and influential discography.

The Parallax II: Future Sequence is yet another step up in evolution for the band, being marked by a series of bests and mosts. Future Sequence is without a doubt the band’s most cohesive work to date in both lyrics and soundtrack, flowing as one continuous piece of music a la Colors with the added benefit of recurring musical and lyrical themes. Album opener ‘Goodbye To Everything’ sets the stage with an almost Pink Floyd-esque acoustic track which develops the motif of inevitable demise, yet does it in a way that is oddly serene and theatrical. These melodies and lyrics will weave themselves in and out of the story, showing up in the visceral ‘Telos’ and the somber climax ‘Silent Flight Parliament.’ There’s even a musical theme from Hypersleep Dialogues tucked into Future Sequence‘s depths, further tying the story together in an even more compelling fashion.

With this concept and coherency comes an almost operatic and theatrical quality. Tommy Rogers’ lyrics paint a picture of insurmountable loss, as they’re written and presented in a way in which the audience can empathize with these characters as they ring in the death of all they’ve ever known, an ending for which they are responsible. The album’s two-part epic action sequence ‘Melting City’ and ‘Silent Flight Parliament’ are haunting and absolutely epic, sending chills during their final moments. Of course, the lyrical element is only one piece of the puzzle, with the band writing some of their most complex and expansive musical work yet. Never sacrificing melody for complexity or vice-versa, the five piece strike a balance between the cerebral and the heart-felt to match the moods needed to score the concept as it unfolds.

Future Sequence also sees the band reach a new height in musical maturity. Known for their wild leaps into avant-garde musical segues, Between the Buried and Me reign in this side of them for much of Future Sequence. Of course, a modern BTBAM album would not feel complete without experimentation, but these shifts in genre are further tied into the band’s core sound in a way that feels more all-encompassing and natural. For instance, the band make good use of banjo in both ‘Astral Body‘ and ‘Lay Your Ghosts To Rest,’ but instead of a full-on bluegrass romp as heard on ‘Ants of the Sky,’ the banjo is layered alongside intricate guitar riffs in a heavier context. The band also delves into a waltz section on ‘Lay Your Ghosts…’ and experiment with an almost world music influence on ‘Extremophile Elite,’ but most of the weirdness is saved for the whacky ‘Bloom,’ which borrows heavily from Mr. Bungle and 60’s surf rock for a solid three-and-a-half minutes. Future Sequence has its fair share of progressive experimentation, but the record is largely Between the Buried and Me at their core.

The band have always done a stellar job at making lengthy tracks feel relatively short due to their enthralling nature and engaging complexity, so the album’s 70-minute runtime was never an issue, especially for established fans. Future Sequence is without a doubt the band’s most dense record to date, taking several listens for the listener to even get a decent grasp on the material. Future Sequence can be seen as an investment, with a greater return with more time and attention the listener puts into the record. Even after a dozen playthroughs, a listener can still find new things that spark further interest. Future Sequence will have longevity, which is enough evidence alone to put Future Sequence in the running for potential classic.

Thankfully, there are many reasons why The Parallax II: Future Sequence will likely be heralded as a classic. This is their most ambitious record to date, and is likely the highlight of their career as the frontrunners of a generation of progressive rock and metal fans. Hopefully this doesn’t see the end of Between the Buried and Me’s foray into conceptual pieces, as they’ve pulled it off remarkably well and can do some grandiose things moving forward. It may be too soon to tell and all this praise may stem from a honeymoon phase of sorts with the new record, but they may have a new opus on their hands. Move over Colors; you’ve been eclipsed.

 

Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence gets…

5/5

– JR