'The Great Misdirect' - Between The Buried And Me (9/10)
As the year 2009 reached it's final stretch, I was pretty certain that I had heard the best that the year had to offer. The year has seen some great achievements from bands both old and new, and by the time November came around, I was almost sure that while the year had not yet ended; there wasn't anything left musically to look forward to, so to speak. Of course there was new music being released (albums are released every week) but there didn't seem to be anything left that would really blow me away...
At the behest of a friend, I went and purchased 'The Great Misdirect' a week or two after it was released. Until this point, Between The Buried And Me has really been a mixed bag for me. The other album of theirs I own 'Colors' (and many other's introduction to the band) was fantastic instrumentally, but it seemed a bit dry and rough at parts. Most of the other material I had heard from the band had been less than impressive, to say the least. Suffice to say, despite some great things I had heard about this album, my expectations weren't exactly surging through the roof.
Upon the first listen of 'The Great Misdirect,' I found myself paralyzed. From that moment on, I was sure I had heard the perfect culmination of a band that was really going places.
Don't get me wrong, 'Colors' was an exhilerating listen, but this new record goes above and beyond it. Three days into listening the album, I had listened to it over 30 times. The only other time I've enjoyed an album enough to be so stuck to the replay button was years ago, when I first bought the cornerstone concept album 'Scenes From A Memory' by Dream Theater.
There's no denying it; 'The Great Misdirect' is in fact, one of the most innovative metal records I've ever heard.
Between The Buried And Me has really seemed to do away with alot of their metalcore sound and there's alot of a prog sensibility here.The record really takes the listener on a ride through time and genre. The album starts with some dark jazzy chords and a meloncholic vocal line before letting go into an incredibly beautiful and polyrhythmic section before erupting into the first heavy song of the album, 'Obfuscation.' Honestly, I don't think I've ever heard a band meld traditional beauty and mind-numbing technicality before.
All the same, the first two songs do resonate alot with 'Colors' and existing fans of the band will certainly be pleased. It's not until the heaviest number 'Disease, Injury, Madness' rolls around where it becomes clear that this isn't just a victory lap for the band, and the expected 'Colors' formula is broken. From that point on, 'The Great Misdirect' really takes a form of it's own.
Even the less fantastic sections on the album have a role to play. 'Desert Of Song,' a hard- edged country/western ballad, is a good song with that would even shine on a lesser album, but it ends up being 'The Great Misdirect's lowest point. The album benefits greatly from it however, as a mellow, less demanding track is a very welcome segue between heavy, technical sections.
The album's epic finale, 'Swim To The Moon' is 18 minutes of seemingly unrelelenting tech-metal madness. While there are parts in the song that are among the best of the album, there could have been a bit more of an 'epic' build up to the climax. With 'White Walls,' there was a very gradual tension that put the listener on edge for minutes until the big climax burst out in full force. With 'Swim To The Moon,' the album seems to just 'end.' There's no big payoff, although that certainly doesn't rob the epic of being a great track.
This is undoubtedly the greatest album I've heard all year, and even one of the best modern metal albums ever made. Absolutely brilliant... I would say 'words cannot describe it,' but that's what a review is for! Five stars, essential, masterpiece... whatever you want to call it, 'The Great Misdirect' has it all, and is living proof that Between The Buried And Me are the great progressive metal band of the new generation.