Between the Buried and Me / Coma Ecliptic
When you think of Between the Buried and Me (which I will from hence forth be abbreviating to BTBAM because I’m lazy) you think of an amazing band. A talented band. A band that makes you wonder how the hell they can remember how to play all their songs live.
This quintet from North Carolina has been around since 2000, and while they have come a long way musically from their first album, it’s been quite a musical journey. This is their 8th album to date (not including live albums, ep’s and The Anatomy Of because then that’s double digit territory), and these guys seem to keep getting better. Their debut album was for the most part, a straightforward metal album with some slight variations in tempo and vocals. As each album was released, they kept pushing their sound with the biggest departure from your typical metal coming in the beautifully composed sounds of Colors. It is for me, one of, if not their best albums. It set the bar, and the new direction for which BTBAM would be heading musically. A very high bar. Like, even if you had rocket boosters on your shoes, by the time you got over the bar you'd think, “man, that was a high bar.”
It had everything from jazz and bluegrass to country and acoustic pop. But this was a metal album, what the hell were those genres doing in a metal album? They were making orgasm’s for your ears that’s what they were doing. This was the album where they could have either gone too far away from their roots, or just the right amount. They kept the right amount onto The Great Misdirect, The Parallax II, and their latest album Coma Ecliptic. This is too date, their least metal album by the way. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The album starts off like pretty much every BTBAM album has for the last few years. Node has a nice and slow build up of Tommy’s melodic vocals that makes you wonder if an angel is singing or if it’s a vegan from North Carolina. With its simple instrumentation upfront, you’re waiting for the crescendo. We’re then lead on one hell of a journey with a nice balance of Tommy’s screams, heavy guitars and technical drums in The Coma Machine. In true BTBAM fashion, the transitions are seamless. On Colors, unless you were looking at the slider bar for how much of the song has progressed, you’d have no idea where one song ended and the next began (because well, they planned it that way). On this album, it’s still pretty difficult but not in a bad way. I listened up to Famine Wolf (which is about 21 minutes into the album) before realizing I’m not on the same song anymore.
Coma Ecliptic kicks ass when it needs to. While there is less metal music in this album than previous iterations, they still know how to kick that ass when they decide they want to. It takes you on a menagerie of genres when it calls for it. It slows things down when it needs to. It’s well paced. It hits the right moments and feelings they want you to experience with each song. It’s interesting. There’s nothing out there like it right now, and in a genre that can tend to get a little repetitive, that’s quite the accomplishment.
Now, this is an album you need to listen to in order. Obviously you’re a beautiful and unique individual who can make their own decisions, but this album really plays the best when it’s listened to in order. Otherwise, the journey (I swear I won’t use that word anymore) they’ve set up for the listener is lost. It would be like reading the 4th Harry Potter book first. So unless you are literally Satan, listen to it in order. Pretty please with gluten free sugar on top?
The only issue I really have with the album (besides lacking as much bone crushing metal) is that you can kind of get lost in these songs. For the most part, all of their albums have done a very good job of being a cohesive cluster fuck, but more noticeably here, you can find yourself a little bored once in a while. There can be so many transitions in a song that you kind of forget what it was you were listening to. Or you want to press the skip button but realize you still have 7 minutes left and know the good part is coming. Eventually. This doesn’t happen often, but I noticed here and there that I wanted to skip the song.
Overall, it’s a good album. It does a great job for a rock opera/ concept album and does a pretty good job as a metal album. It’s an album you have to listen to multiple times to appreciate everything that goes on. There are elements of Pink Floyd, Tron the movie and so many other influences you might not catch at first listen that it’s worth it to go back and listen for the finer details. Is this their best album to date? No, but it’s their most ambitious and I applaud them for making it. If you’re a fan of BTBAM, give this a listen. If you’re a fan of progressive metal, give it a listen. If you’re just a fan of music and want something new to try, give this a listen. Then go listen to Colors, seriously it’s the tits.
OCEANO / ASCENDANTS
If I had to sum up Oceano’s newest album Ascendants in one word, I’d have a tough time deciding between Brutal and Relentless, because they both encapsulate what this album is, so well. And that’s exactly how it should be. The opening track starts off as more of a “calm before the storm”, until about halfway through the song. That’s the only calm on this album by the way. Then the blazing fast drumming, heavy guitars (they sound like their one down tune away from hitting the brown note) and Adam’s signature guttural screams come in kicking all kinds of ass. And that seems to be a common theme on this album; it kicks your ass and you wind up saying, “Thank you, can you please kick my ass some more?” If you keep listening to the rest of the album, it does that ten-fold.
This is Oceano at their best. I’ll be honest; I didn’t care too much for their previous album, Incisions. Not that the album was bad by any means, it just didn’t have the same…magic that drew me in like Contagion and Depths did. But that magic is back. This is one of their heaviest albums, if not the heaviest and each song reminds you that Oceano doesn’t fuck around. This is great music to jam to on the way to work in the morning (this will wake you up better than coffee I promise), get you pumped at the gym, or if you have no emotions whatsoever it will make you want to punch a baby in the face for no reason.
This album does a great job with the atmospheric bits of the music as well, never getting in the way of the other instruments (including Adam), but helping to convey the “doom” aspect of each song. Sometimes they can get in the way of the rest of the song and actually detract from the music, but that isn’t the case here. Every instrument has its place, and they fit perfectly.
Now, you either like Oceano, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. If you like Oceano, this new album will be right up your alley in an impressive display of musicianship and lyrical content. However, if you haven’t liked Oceano in the past, this might be the album to win you over. It’s technical. It’s brutal. And it does have a lot of breakdowns (and that seems to be a negative to a lot of metal fans). It’s got everything great in a death metal album mixed in with the awesomeness of a deathcore album.
The main gripe I have with the album might be a reason for people who are on the fence about Oceano, to give it a listen. It’s 28 minutes long. Only 9 songs. That’s it. If you’re more of a “glass half full” kind of person, it’s short and sweet (sweet being brutal in this case), but if you’re more on the pessimistic side, it’s not enough. I was hoping for a bonus track or two from them, and maybe something might be released later on but for right now, it doesn’t appear like that’s going to happen.
Regardless of album length, this album is totally worth a listen. Scratch that, multiple listens. If you’re ready for your eardrums to hate you (you have to listen to this loud, that’s the only way with this album), give it a listen on Spotify or any other online music service.