Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

written by: April 29, 2011
Release Date: April 12, 2011


During “White Walls,” the epic finale of 2007’s Colors, Tommy Rogers reflected on the struggles of songwriting and artistic expression. The band wanted to push themselves and do what their hearts desired amidst a stagnant metal scene. Avoiding “Monotonous expression/A forced replica of a tired sound,” Between the Buried and Me dropped a bomb with Colors. Complex, pretentious, unpredictable, sometimes goofy, but always passionate, their masterpiece showed there is still a lot that can be done not only in the technical realm, but in metal as a whole.

It walked the line, but it never fell on the side of too much. Unfortunately 2009’s The Great Misdirect leaned a bit too far. Though there were some truly wonderful directions (see “Mirrors”), there were plenty of—pardon the pun—misdirected attempts at recapturing the glory of Colors. It’s hard to outdo an album that perfectly mashed death metal with space rock and polka, but they gave it a valiant effort to mixed results. Main issues included naming a song “Obfuscation” and ripping off “Donkey Kong.”

And now in 2011, Between the Buried and Me has moved to a new label and has perhaps rejuvenated their creative flow. Instead of going for the big one, the band has decided to do an EP. Of course, this means three ten-minute songs. And the title is The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. What?

A quick look through Wikipedia tells you the concept of parallax can be a metaphor for two similar stories told from two perspectives around the same time. The EP revolves around two characters: Prospects 1 & 2. It appears these two characters live in separate worlds but they come across the same occurrences in their lives. As one might expect, the musical shifts coincide with the characters.

As far as the music goes, the band has cooled off a bit and there’s nothing as egregious as aping “Donkey Kong” (pardon the pun again), but there’s also nothing that pops out like “Donkey Kong.” Well, there is the intro.

Someone needs to tell Rogers his synths sound terrible and he needs to stop using them.

The intro to “Specular Reflection” is just outrageous. It’s almost as bad as old Symphony X. The more tones he brings in, the cheaper they sound. And he permeates the surface more and more each release.

When the band kicks in, it’s back to classic BTBAM. Even if it lacks the strong riffs, it sounds pretty good. Dan Briggs and Blake Richardson make up one of the best rhythm sections in the business and Paul Waggoner’s dexterity and endurance on guitar are phenomenal. However, as Rogers switches from growling to singing random lines and the sung parts also don’t really contain strong melodies, it’s clear they are struggling to grow.

Any riff that sounds moderately cool comes too close to sounding like a riff they’ve done before. They even go so far as to try a polka bit again but now, of course, it’s just gimmicky.

There is a chance that these parts are supposed to connect with “Sun of Nothing” and “Swim to the Moon,” but it’s not quite as clear or as well executed as the recurring themes used by Dream Theater or The Dear Hunter.

Every move on Colors made sense. The dynamic shifts were huge and the listener understood what was going on even if it took a few listens. Furthermore, it clearly meant something to the band. “This is all we have when we die/It’s what’s left of us when we die/We will be remembered for this.” Rogers knew that they had struck gold with that album. Everything fell into place and they effectively gave metal a shove. Now the band is drowning themselves in concepts and what were once huge leaps from album to album are now sidesteps.

This five-piece is one of the most collectively talented group out there; they just need some new inspiration.

Continuing through “White Walls, Rogers sings about fans and label executives: “They want to be fed/Fed a simple replication of past greatness.” And, like The Great Misdirect before it, that’s exactly what The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is. Between the Buried and Me is becoming the thing they feared most.

Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues Tracklist:

  1. “Specular Reflection”
  2. “Augment of Re-Birth”
  3. “Lunar Wilderness”