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review: Between The Buried And Me celebrated 10 years of ‘Colors’

Between the Buried and Me. Photo credit: Andrew Rothmund
Between the Buried and Me. Photo credit: Andrew Rothmund

With three studio albums prior and three after (not counting the cover album), Between the Buried and Me‘s Colors (2007) centerpoints the band’s style and development. True to their progressive form, they’ve come from a much different place than where they find find themselves today. Understanding those distant endpoints means finding the album which truly speaks to their never-changing heart: that which captures both the band’s past and future into a momentous, effervescent present which can be summoned anytime, anywhere.

And so it was: Between the Buried and Me stopped in Chicago twice last weekend on their Colors ten-year anniversary tour to play the entire album without pause, plus some. Flanked by The Contortionist (stay tuned for our interview with Mike Lessard), they totally commanded the stage with an ethereal display of hyper-precision and pointy, adolescent aggression. Chest-to-back, the surging crowd reflected the fury and passion buried deep within Between the Buried and Me’s super-complex song structures and noodling appendages. Certainly, something special about the band — and the songs on Colors — drives fans to both smash their heads and sing along passionately.

To wit: Colors is the band’s most kaleidoscopic, integrating the straightforward blast of the well-loved Alaska (2006), and prototyping the softer, more melodic strategies the band would later explore on The Great Misdirect (2009) and even further on The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012). Colors balances excitement and bewilderment through attention-deficit asides and well-placed tech-breakdowns, both of which are supreme crowd pleasers. It’s also a pit album, with random moments of blast beats, and an imbued grooviness which powers each well-segmented riff to the next. There are moments of catchy beauty, though, when the spasmodic metal decelerates toward slow head-nodding and gentle singing.

Between the Buried and Me makes it a habit to decode contrasting ideas by toying with them simultaneously: fun/serious, melodic/discordant, spacey/grounded, horns/oranges. This was an approach which first bloomed on Colors — especially the back-to-back songs “Sun of Nothing” and “Ants of the Sky” — signaling the modern, progressive direction the band would ultimately take. Yet, ten years back, it feels like Between the Buried and Me still had something to prove: Colors‘ only pretense is that it unabashedly displays its own effort. Live, this pretense crumbles as precise, professional, and powerful musicianship propagates waves of pleasurable frisson through so many bodies — a spectacle, but without cheap hooks.

Think more like expensive, intricate hooks. It was on Colors where the band found themselves imbuing all the mosh-ready intensity of yore with fresh takes on the technicality of progressive metal. Juxtapositionally, though, the album featured more prominent clean singing from frontman Thomas Giles (yet another indicator of where the band would eventually steer), even opening the album with his silky, mid-register voice. Colors was where Giles established his subtle avant-garde unusuality, breathing essential human character into the mix. And so much was apparent live: Giles transitioned between standing behind the keyboard to sing calmly and hunkering over the crowd, foot on monitor, to rile them up even further. He both soothed and energized, whipping fans into a frenzy and then lulling their dedicated eyes closed to absorb gentler passages.

For fans and newbies alike, seeing Between the Buried and Me live is both fascinating and overwhelming. Musical content notwithstanding, the performance itself is an impressive feat to behold, sans any annoying showmanship. While many have reservations about the kind of progressive metal the band writes today, it’s incredible to see a matured Between the Buried and Me revisit old stuff. If anything, they’re even better able to do Colors justice now than ever been before, even if their latest offerings stand in stark contrast. It’s all part of being a progressive band and perpetually moving forward without forgetting the all-important past.

Follow Between the Buried and Me on Facebook here. Check out the remaining Colors ten-year anniversary tour dates below:
btbam tour

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