Monday, July 23, 2018

Between The Buried And Me - Automata II (2018)

With the disappointment of the first "Automata" record having settled down, it is now time for Between The Buried And Me to unveil the second part to this series about dreams, social media, and the wonders of the human mind. It is a second part that has the tough task in convincing me why this record was split into two parts and why they needed to have two separate release dates. Well, here goes an early spoiler, it did not convince me, it almost made me even angrier over this dick move.

Okay, calling it a dick move might be a little excessive, but it just does not make sense in splitting "Automata" in half. If it was packaged in a double album, sort of like the latest Metallica record, I would have been more fine with it, and I do understand that some people might not have an easy time to digest a full BTBAM experience, but presenting it like two full length albums and forcing your fans to pay full price for both is just awful, especially since this second part is even smaller than the first, having only 4 songs and a playtime of 33 minutes. Those are EP numbers for any progressive metal band, you just cannot get enough satisfaction from it.

With that said though, I have to say that these 33 minutes are filled with a lot of quality. While the first part was kind of safe, not taking us too far away from our safe zone, this second part is going wild with its imagination. It is BTBAM at their best, being playful in the instrumentation, while still keeping the focus through all the twists and turns the band takes us through.

The opening track "The Proverbial Bellow" starts where "Blot" left off, and it does so with some sweet melodic riffing, signed by Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring. It picks up some pace before settling down in a typical BTBAM middle ground, where Tommy Giles Rogers leads the way with his vocals, and the rest of the guys takes it easy to prepare for the next assault, doing so a couple of times. It is far from the most extravagant song that you will here from the band, but it is still highly enjoyable to listen to, making it an optimal album starter (even if 13 minutes is a little too meaty for something that is far from special).

After that comes the interlude "Glide", which actually has some meat to it, taking you to some bistro in France, leads you in among all the smoke and wine to a seat in front of the small stage. Then the band comes flying out in the form of the most fun song of the two albums, "Voice of Trespass". This is an 8 minute high paced jazz bonanza that is completely out of its mind. Blake Richardson is going wild behind the drum kit, Tommy goes full "ba-da-ba-da", and hands, heads, and feet nearby twitch with a frightening force. Best of all though might be that we get a return of the unexpected xylophone, which we first heard on "Extremophile Elite" in "The Parallax II". The second half of the track does slow things down a bit, but the impact that first half has is simply marvelous, easily making "Voice of Tresspass" one of my favourite BTBAM tracks of all time.

The last track of the record, "The Grid", takes the whole concept home with a delicate approach, where Tommy shows some nice emotional abilities, not with his voice, but with his keyboard that takes its time for every note, giving the "Automata" series that epic ending it truly deserves. And after listening to both these records, I still cannot understand why they were separated at birth. Together they make a very serviceable concept record that sits at around 68 minutes, which is not an awful lot considering what other bands has put out in recent time (*ahem* Therion *ahem*). It flows nicely, it has an interesting story, and as always when it comes to BTBAM, the craft is exquisite, so sawing it in half just does not feel right.

If it was released as one solid record, I would probably say that it is a very nice BTBAM album, that the first half might be a bit sluggish, but the steam it picks up around the 40 minute mark makes it all worth while. It is a solid record that might not measure up with the best of the band, but it is certainly nothing to be ashamed about. So overall, nice try lads, but please release it all in one go next time, and as a single unit. Your fans are not made of money you know.

Songs worthy of recognition: Voice of Trespass, The Grid

Rating: 8/10 Proverbial Bellows

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

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