It's hard to describe the nature of Between the Buried and Me's new project, The Parallax. It is kind of like a double album, except not quite. It's divided into two releases, an EP and a future full-length album, that together tell a story about...well, honestly, I'm not quite certain. It's written pretty obtusely. But that certainly won't stop me from commenting on the musical merits of the first entry to this duology, Hypersleep Dialogues.
Keeping with the band's tradition of mashing every genre together with death metal just to see if it works, Hypersleep Dialogues features a heavy focus on symphonic elements. And no, I don't mean just wishy-washy string backing; I'm talking about legitimate orchestral and choral composition. "Specular Reflection" features a minute-long purely orchestral introduction, as well as several other references to the style throughout. It's not as integral to the music, nor as complex, as true classical crossover metal bands like Fist in Fetus, but it's certainly a few steps above 'symphonic' metal. And, of course, you still have their trademark digressions into stuff like polka in "Augment of Rebirth" and jazzy rock with "Lunar Wilderness". One thing this album does better than its predecessors are the clean vocals. Just on the opening track, there are all kinds of unusually difficult vocal passages, rife with unnecessarily precise rhythmic and tonal demands.Some passages digress into the whole tone scale, which makes sense, given the dream-like nature of the album.
Admittedly, a bit of this music does sound familiar--while it's not as overly infatuated with Dream Theater as The Great Misdirect, it's still apparent that Between the Buried and Me are quite comfortable with their new, cleaner sound and aren't exactly interested in branching out too far from it. It just doesn't seem like there's too much growth in the band's sound, as the cacophonous arrangements of these pieces seem eerily similar to "Obfuscation" or "Prequel to the Sequel". Granted, what's done here is exemplary; I do think the opening track is one of their career's strongest individual songs. But frankly, I wouldn't mind a few more straightforward references to the dirtier sounds of their debut or Alaska on some of their newer albums.
While it certainly isn't Colors, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is nonetheless an incredibly solid release. Part two, however, will really have to start branching out some more--Between the Buried and Me have used up their allowance of samey songwriting with this release, and I expect the second half to be much more adventurous on their part.
8.0 / 10
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The new Between the Buried and Me EP, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, is currently streaming over at Metal Sucks. The new EP will be released April 12th on Metal Blade ...
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