BETWEEN THE BURIED ME formed in the year 2000 from the ashes of the metalcore band Prayer For Cleansing which focused on combining punk and melodic death metal. Three of the members: lead guitarist Paul Waggoner, drummer Will Goodyear and vocalist / keyboardist Tommy Rogers decided to carry on that band’s hardcore sound and introduce progressive elements to the mix. In case you’re wondering where they got their new strange name, it actually comes from the lyrics of the Counting Crows track “Ghost Train,” a folk band from whom they would borrow some influence in the slower subdued parts between their hardcore bombast. After real easing a 3-track demo in 2001 (which were all re-recorded and released here), BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME was showing promise early and scored the interest of Lifeforce Records and released their debut eponymous album in 2002.
This band meant business from the very start and delivers a more than competent album of progressive extreme metal that emphasizes metalcore as it root base but adds healthy doses of deathcore, folky subdued interludes all decorated with layers of progressive metal in the mix. The technical wizardry comes not only in the form of numerous innovative time signature plays between the musicians but also in the long drawn out sometimes overlong song structures. True to extreme metal Rogers’ vocals range from death metal growls to punk shouting and extreme core vocal abuses. While the moshpit inducing music mainly remains on full flame, the band has the uncanny ability to suddenly transport the listener into serene space rock with a thick atmospheric fog, arpeggiated hypnotic effects and soothing soft clean vocals with a tinge of contemporary folk.
The result of this hybridism yields an impressive debut that displays some sophisticated technical wizardry and a nice parade of ideas that come and go creating a bona fide progressive metal experience that doesn’t sound even a tiny bit like Dream Theater! While the core aspects dominate with the mosh inducing breakdowns and gut wrenching guitar distortion played as loud and ugly as humanly possible, the progressive metal aspects develop the music by constantly changing gears by letting riffs unfold naturally and then moving on to another musical development. Between the ever changing riffs that offer various amounts of melodic and dissonant ingredients trading off or blending at any given moment, the music has an overall catchy yet complex feel to it. These guys knew how to play right away but they were also very political in nature with better lyrical content than their contemporaries.
While this debut is exquisitely performed, it is rightfully overshadowed by the releases that follow because the sheer amount of innovative features and genre blending that occurs later hasn’t quite reached its fruition. While every track on album number one is quite impressive in its own right, i find the tracks begin to repeat the same formula a bit too much and by the end of the album it feels a little samey although there is more than enough variation in the tracks themselves to keep them interesting. Personally i find this to be a decent slice of progressive metalcore which hardly will ever dethrone its successors as their cream of the crop but while the future releases are much like a bento box of musical genre tidbits blended with their version of progressive metalcore, this one is more like a tasty single entrée if that is what’s on the menu tonight. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME were one of the true innovators of making one of metal’s most extreme and uncompromising sub genres grow up a little without losing any of that teenage angst and their debut displays all their potential and then some.