Album Review no.20: Automata Part I - Between the Buried and Me

Between the Buried and Me has become the latest band to fascinate me. Listening to their albums in order, I didn't think much of them at first, but then when I head Alaska, I knew that they were better than I first thought, then I heard Colors. Ignoring that story for another day, their newest album came out today, almost directly after I listened through Coma Ecliptic, absolutely perfect timing. I decided to do this instead of a review about something bad because this seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin expressing my feelings about this band.

Condemned to the Gallows:
It's essentially a tradition to begin a BTBAM album with some clean vocals and acoustic guitar, it allows the listener to be eased into the insanity that will await them. After a couple of vocal lines, the synth and soft piano type noises begin, and then the scream and heavy drums enter. The interesting thing about this is that you can still hear that quiet, relaxing notes in the background. I enjoy the layering of the growling and clean vocals, it's always been one of those small things that I've always appreciated. The I really like the transition at the 2:30 minute mark, where the riff completely changes, then after 15 seconds, changes again into a much slower,heavier sounding riff. The drumming is also really good as it sounds like it's keeping up with the constant time signature and tempo changes really well. The section where everything becomes quiet as the backing vocals become distorted is textbook BTBAM. The fact that it feels so textbook is actually a problem though, as despite the technical greatness that can be found within, the song itself gets quite dull no repeat listens.

House Organ:
This song is much more 'normal' while still being able to sound amazing. The entire song sounds like some sort of dystopian sci-fi horror flick, compressed into 4 minutes, similar to a Rings of Saturn song, except decent. When everything slows down and goes back to clean vocals, at first it doesn't feel that special at all, the song builds back up to insanity... and then makes the buildup dissipate in order to create that magical moment. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn't quite reach that point even so, because of this, I can't really love the song as much thanks to the underdeveloped clean section and because it's a very short song, but even so, it still is a really solid arrangement.

Yellow Eyes:
The intro to this song is a really nice transition from House Organ, it takes that build up that it was getting, except actually goes through with it to create a really fun, intense opening minute. The repeated singing of yellow is extremely weird, but I like it a lot. The continuous loop of weird clean vocals and growls continues here, but each part will come and go so quickly that it's impossible to keep track of. This section culminates into repeatedly singing something along the lines of "Whatever created this world for me" while both the guitars and drums play in such a way that it simultaneously feels like they are playing on time and completely missing the beat, it's honestly off putting, and I love it at the same time because I find it to be impressive to make me feel discomfort solely from a drum beat and guitar riff. The riff that comes directly after is another really good one that nicely leads into a complete 180 of the tone of the song, going for something that sounds peaceful, and would feel the same way if you were listening to a different band. The bassline in this section is absolutely amazing and really adds to the fact that everything sounds completely different now. The drum solo with the synth noises was one of the few drum solos that I can say I enjoyed. There really isn't much else to say about the last 2 minutes due to the fact that it's fairly standard stuff for the band, which is to say, 50 ideas per second.

Continuing the riff that Yellow Eyes ended on, Millions starts off promising. The repeated singing of "millions" set up for a really nice vocal harmony part, until the guitar comes in and these seemingly happy vocals suddenly sound sinister. The growls from this band usually just are used to fit with the insanity of their songs, but this time they sound extremely angry. The interesing thing about this song is that while there are still a lot of riffs, the main draw of this song is the emotion put into each compnent of it, the guitar's wailing notes are what dictate the tone of the vocals, as the vocalist goes through sounding content, to sounding evil, to sounding straight up angry, to sounding like a joyful madman. I really like how different this song feels compared to what is normally brought to the table.

Gold Distance:
Despite being an interlude track (which I've grown to dislike), I find this one to be 100% acceptable due to the fact that it nicely connects the 2 songs, although I wish that there was slightly more to it overall.

The opening riff is one of the most interesting ones I've heard in a long time, it sounds as if someone was improvising a solo, yet it still sounds like a good riff. This discordance is what the band is built on, so it's nice to hear it take center stage within the first 2 minutes. The time signature changes between this and the little vocal section are really nice and non distracting. After this section, the riff becomes extremely Middle Eastern sounding, and if you know me, you'll know how much I adore that sort of sound. Even when the vocals are the main focus of the song, the amount of riff changes make the guitarist sound like they are just playing a near continuous solo for all of the 10 minutes of the song. After the opening riff makes a return, it is quickly transformed into a quick jumble of keyboard notes that leads directly into the distinct second half of the song. The following 2 minutes is quite nice, as everything is simplified greatly and the vocals really are the main attraction. The following keyboard riff allows the song to become faster and eventually, everything becomes heavy again. The final minute and a half sounds somewhat hopeful and inspirational, as the riff builds up for something amazing and the vocals follow this. I can only compare this to the final third of Exist by Avenged Sevenfold, where a constant hopeful sounding riff was playing in the background. The difference between these 2 songs is that this ends with some heavier screams before cutting out. I'm assuming that Automata part 2 will carry on directly from this point, so I'm fine with it, because this song is still the highlight of the album despite the fact that the album is only half complete so far.

2*10 + 9 + 2*8 + 7 + 4*9.5 = 87/100

Final Thoughts:
Well, I'm quite happy about the quality of this album, honestly, other than their first 2 albums, which I really don't like much, every album made by BTBAM so far has been amazing, combining so many different concepts and genres into every song, and while it wasn't as heavy on that this time, the ridiculous amount of transitions was still there, and I fully welcome it. Very few bands sound as fresh as this one, and this album is a great example of how. To top it off, it's a much easier listen than some of the other albums due to this one only being around 35 minutes long. I think that this is a very worthy addition to their catalog and anyone who's a fan of the band won't be too disappointed by this release.

The next album I'll be reviewing is definitely going to be Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden by request of Mindcrime


If that paragraph is what I wrote for Blot, a song I find less adventurous and ridiculous compared to some of their other epics, I dread seeing the lengths of paragraphs I'd be writing if I reviewed Colors, Ants of the Sky alone would end up being an entire essay. - kempokid

I haven’t gotten into them yet but this is a very good review. - visitor

They're extremely chaotic and intense, as well as extreme metal. I don't necessarily think that you'd like it too much, but even so, give Colors as listen, it's a great place to start and is one of my favourites by them - kempokid

Colors is a masterpiece. My favorite album of all time. They're a bit different and they may take some time growing into, but the second you do, you're in for a wild ride. I also recommend Parallax II. - cjWriter1997

I don’t mind heaviness, I listen to Meshuggah and Behemoth for gods sake. They sound like something I’d love, I don’t mind sitting through 10+ minute songs and I love prog. I’ll definitely check them out soon. - visitor

Oh, oops. I confused you for someone else, they absolutely hate any extreme metal, no matter what. - kempokid

I used to hate extreme metal but it’s grown on me. Now I absolutely love it. It’s not my favorite but I like it a lot. - visitor

If you love Between the Buried and Me, might I recommend listening (and possibly reviewing) Native Construct's Quiet World? It's basically a more symphonic Btbam album with more singing, and it's also only their first album as well. - cjWriter1997

I'll be making a post shortly which will be a backlog of requests for albums I'll review. I'll definitely review that one because I love this band and think that a more symphonic sounding version of them would be to die for. - kempokid