Between The Buried And Me - The Great Misdirect
Victory Records
Progressive Metalcore
6 songs (59:34)
Release year: 2009
Between The Buried And Me, Victory Records
Reviewed by James

As hard as it is to believe, it's been over two years since Colors, a release that will no doubt be remembered as Between The Buried And Me's watershed release, and er, giving us a load of derivative prog-metalcore bands made up of annoying bedroom fretboard-wankers who place far more emphasis on playing a million notes a minute than, y'know, songwriting. Ignoring that little side-effect (which is fairly easy as nobody outside of said bedroom fretboard-wankers listens to any of those bands) Colors still stands today as a remarkably well-put-together slab of progressive metalcore, especially given the ambitious scope of the thing (One 64-minute track divided into eight parts, if you've been living under a rock for the past two years). Unfortunately, it's a double-edged sword, Colors acting as both a monolith in the heavy metal landscape, and the biggest weight around the band's collective neck. Well, The Great Misdirect is here, and despite boasting a near-18-minute song, longer than any of Colors' individual parts, it somehow feels a bit, well, small by comparison. Of course, that's utterly unfair as I'm sure if they'd released another one-song epic I'd have accused them of repeating themselves. So, looking at this on a purely musical level, how does The Great Misdirect bear up?

Mirrors kicks us off, setting us off to a mellow start with the kind of oddly chorded guitars and jazzy bass noodling we've heard from latter-day Cynic. Indeed, it's nice to hear the bass stand out a bit more this time, whereas on Colors it was usually buried in the mix and following the guitar lines. My only real complaint about Mirrors is that it's too short at just over three minutes. Obfuscation gets the album going properly, and worryingly it seems to stagger around in aimless riffing with very little dynamic, relying on its chorus hook to try and pull the song together. What we do see, however, is the influence of touring partners Dream Theater, the band placing more emphasis on instrumental sections and soloing. Which in itself is a plus point, as the one legitmate complaint you could aim at Colors was that vocalist Tommy Rogers insisted on yammering over everything. Here he's a little more content to sit back and concentrate on keyboard duties (and he's a fairly accomplished player). It's just a shame this particular song falls apart when he's not singing.

Luckily, next track Disease, Injury and Madness is as strong as anything on Colors, and showcases a new side of the band, a more dynamic, experimental one. This time out we get some influence from another prog-metal heavyweight the band has toured with, this time the mighty Opeth. There's a lengthy acoustic interlude, and at times we see concession to the Swedish prog-deathsters 70s rock influence, at times bursting into full organ-driven Deep Purple territory. Sadly follow-up track Fossil Genera- A Feed From Cloud Mountain is another forgettable number, and although it's certainly not the big load of nothing that was Obfuscation you're likely to find your attention wandering in parts.

So far then, it's an inconsistent outing from Between The Buried And Me, but luckily the album finally finds itself in it's final third or so. Desert Of Song proves the band can simply write great songs, when they need to, rather than worry about fitting in as many time signature changes as possible. And once again we see a more diverse Between The Buried And Me, managing to work in country influences without ever sounding jokey. And then there's Swim To The Moon, and 18-minute epic and one of the most impressive pieces in the Between The Buried And Me canon. It's every bit as impressive as White Walls, and works in every trick they've learnt in the two years that have passed between Colors and The Great Misdirect and proves the band have more than one string to their bow. Even if they do nick the riff from Dream Theater's New Millennium in the beginning.

When The Great Misdirect is on form, then, it's a great example of what could have been for Between The Buried And Me. As it is, we've got two-thirds of a great album, let down by two pretty dull prog-metalcore plodders that seem to me like a step back for the band. It's as if they've fixed what wasn't quite right about Colors, yet they've also felt the need to add a load of aimless riffing that I can only assume is for the benefit of the portion of their fanbase who spend too much time in guitar shops. Certainly a step-down from Colors, then. Which is a shame, as if the band had run with their more diverse leanings and crafted the record they were capable of, they could have easily made a worthy follow-up to it. The Great Misdirect certainly isn't enough to finish the band off, but it'll take a hell of an album to restore them to their critical darling status.

Killing Songs :
Disease, Injury and Madness, Desert Of Song, Swim To The Moon
James quoted 78 / 100
Kyle quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Between The Buried And Me that we have reviewed:
Between The Buried And Me - The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues reviewed by Crash and quoted no quote
Between The Buried And Me - Colors reviewed by James and quoted 91 / 100
Between The Buried And Me - Alaska reviewed by Jason and quoted 69 / 100
7 readers voted
Your quote was: 100.
Change your vote

There are 49 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:45 am
View and Post comments