Between the Buried and Me aren't a band that will soon be accused of pandering to a scene or playing it safe with their music. On their first EP, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, the North Carolina prog-metal quintet attempt to set their own progressive bar even higher with a 30-minute concept record—and Part 1 in a two-part conceptual suite—about a couple of people separated in space-time, whose decisions “will change their lives, and perhaps the course of the universe,” as the band describes it.
In a nutshell, The Parallax is heavier than previous BTBAM releases, but pigeonholing this music would be unfair and inaccurate. The first track, "Specular Reflection," features a catchy, clean-sung chorus that is borderline poppy, in addition to heavy chromatic guitar riffs and spacey synth lines. Frontman Tommy Rodgers’ vocals run the gamut as usual, and his melodic singing sounds even better than ever. The second track, "Augment of Rebirth," is an example of the band’s technical chops and intense heaviness. Odd-metered riffs, blast beats, sweeping arpeggios, and accordion-playing (for good measure) ensue. The EP’s final track, "Lunar Wilderness," features the band’s more introspective, thoughtful side, with soft atmospheric sections, jazzy soloing, and a choir-like outro, in addition to frenzied heaviness.
While some deemed BTBAM's last full-length, 2009's The Great Misdirect, too ambitious, even discursive in its progressive mix, The Parallax flows more naturally. The tracks complement each other and build a cohesive piece of art. Between the Buried and Me are on a level of songwriting skill that few bands can hope to reach, and their new EP epitomizes the band’s talent. DAVID McKENNA