Thursday, March 15, 2018

Between The Buried And Me - Automata I (2018)

Imagine if all your dreams would one day be projected on the television screen. That all those images you project inside your brain during the night (or day if you happen to fall asleep during that time of the day) suddenly becomes exposed to the people of the world. What would you do, what would you feel, would you even want this to happen? This is obviously a thought that the Americans in Between The Buried And Me have wondered, so they made the only sensible thing imaginable, make a record about it. But they did not stop there, because there will be a second record around this concept, with release later this year.

It is another interesting concept that this magnificent group presents, and it will be interesting to see how it will develop in its second part, but for now though, let us focus on the first part of the "Automata" series. I honestly do not think this album will be a surprise to anyone who have listened to the band in the last ten years or so. It is technical brilliance from start to finish, and that patented BTBAM sound is there without any question. If you do not like the band, then it is safe to say that "Automata I" will not change your opinion.

Fact of the matter is that there literally is no surprises in here, this album feels like a let down in several ways actually. The sudden WTF moments are close to extinct, and the modest play time of 35 minutes just makes this feel like a slightly longer EP (it is only 5 minutes longer than "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues"), which is not nearly enough to satisfy my needs. It is only 5 songs in here, plus a needless 1 minute interlude, so it makes me wonder why "Automata" is even split into 2 parts at all. Is the second part really THAT long?

With that said though, the music is of typical BTBAM quality, in other words, pretty awesome. The opener "Condemned To The Gallows" has a slow, ominous start before the epic bang kicks off the album. It got a lot of the classic tropes, with a catchy screaming of the title thrown in to get in some awkward singalongs. The following "House Organ" is pretty forgettable, but then enters "Yellow Eyes", a grand song where we get such a great mix of the heavy and the melodic side of the band (and especially singer Tommy Giles Rogers), and the middle part has a magnificent playful style that certainly gets you into the groove. Add another memorable scream along moment, and you got a piece of tasty BTBAM candy.

The second half kicks off with "Millions", a very spacey song that would have fitted right in the "Parallax" series quite well, with some really nice guitar playing by Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring. "Gold Distance"... is just a generic interlude, but it does eventually lead up to the longest track of the record (and the shortest title), "Blot". It does take some time to get going, but when it has built up enough momentum, it presents some of the most epic and complex music of the album. The length is no coincidence, there is a lot of technical goodness to take in here, and I am willing to swallow it all.

After that... oh wait, that was it, the album is over. Yes, it is pretty obvious, "Automata I" is the appetizer before the main course, it satisfies the hunger, but you still want more after you are done. It feels like the band is just warming up here, saving the best tricks for the second part, and it is very easy to feel disappointed by it. Unless the second record is like 1 and a half hour long, I really do not see why we have to be teased like this. It still have some really nice moments, and there is nothing to complain about the quality of the craft, but I expect to be blown away when the band returns this summer, to finish off what they started.

Songs worthy of recognition: Yellow Eyes, Condemned To The Gallows, Blot

Rating: 7/10 Gold Distances

More reviews of Between The Buried And Me
The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Coma Ecliptic
Automata II

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