So three years have passed since the Parallax saga had been presented, and finally, the band has revealed their new story. "Coma Ecliptic, BTBAM's seventh full length effort, is a story of a man that is stuck in a coma, and relives all of his past lives he have lived during the ages. A concept well expected from the band, interesting and deep in context, having a lot of room to really build upon with their imagination. And just like they have done with several of their releases, the album itself runs seamlessly from start to finish, giving the illusion that the whole album is one big song, while in fact it is 11 songs. Just a perfect excuse to listen to "Coma Ecliptic" in its entirety.
The biggest strength to BTBAM has always been their enormous versatility, containing a unique sound that ranges from jazz and prog, to death metal. Actually, scrap the death metal part, at least for this album. "Coma Ecliptic" is the "cleanest" album made so far by the band, containing very little blast beats or harsh vocals from Tommy Giles Rogers. So for those who was hoping for a new "Prequel To The Sequel" or "Telos", tough luck, but be happy that the band is just as good even with the minimal death metal references. Tommy uses his clean vocals with great precision, creating a nice overall mood, and when he needs to use his harsh vocals, he does it equally well. The guitars are also using a cleaner approach to really give this album a unique personality that stands out against the rest of the BTBAM discography. The album is still clearly a progressive metal album, but it is without a doubt the calmest record yet made by the band.
As stated before, "Coma Ecliptic" is just like its predecessor best experienced in its entirety, but "The Parallax II..." still had a extremely strong line up of individual songs, something that "Coma Ecliptic" cannot really match, mostly since the songs goes in the same wave length, not differentiating too much from each other. However, this does not mean that the stand alone tracks in this album are weak on their own, they all hold up nicely so that those with little free time and short attention span can also enjoy the album, track by track. The previously released songs ("The Coma Machine", "Famine Wolf" and "Memory Palace") are probably the songs that contains the most memorable moments in the album, which also makes them stand out more compared to the rest of the album. But it is ultimately the small intricate details that makes you come back to a BTBAM album, and this one has lots of them everywhere, even if I do miss a true WTF moment, like the one in "Extremophile Elite" where all of a sudden, a xylophone steals the show.
Between The Buried And Me has done it again, "Coma Ecliptic" is another world class concept album that not only tells an interesting tale, but also contains amazing musicianship. The band keeps on evolving their sound with tons of different influences, while still keeping a core that is whole heartedly their own. It takes its listener to take it all in, but once it is inside your brain, you do not want to forget it, just remember back to it with a big smile on your face. The band is without any doubt the leading progressive metal band in this era, and I am stoked that I will see them live again this fall. Hopefully, I myself will not fall into a coma by then. But then again, maybe I would have to live my own version of "Coma Ecliptic" then, and that is not too shabby.
Songs worthy of recognition: Memory Palace, The Coma Machine, King Redeem / Queen Serene, Turn On The Darkness
Rating: 9/10 Dim Ignitions