North Carolina's Between the Buried and Me have been on quite a bit of a hot streak lately, releasing a long line of successful albums over the last few years. 2007's Colors and 2009's The Great Misdirect are particularly well regarded in the prog and metal communities - and with good reason. Both albums are shining examples that progressive metal and metalcore can work together productively, and have frequently been regarded as masterpieces by fans of either genre. With The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, the band's latest EP and first outing on Metal Blade Records, they've begun an ambitious concept, to which this EP serves as part one. The concept here deals with two humans that are separated by several million light years, and how they both face similar issues in their life that they must resolve. It'll be interesting to hear how the band continues this intriguing concept with the next installment. As this 30-minute, three-song EP currently stands, it's yet another fantastic release in Between the Buried and Me's already excellent discography, and an essential purchase to all fans of the band. Although not quite as great as their previous full-lengths (in my opinion, at least), The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is a more-than-worthy EP to add to your collection. These guys simply show no sign of slowing down, and it'll definitely be interesting to hear how they follow this one up!
The music on The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is unquestionably Between the Buried and Me's distinct blend of metalcore and progressive metal, but possibly a bit more brutal and eclectic than their previous album. There seems to be a large focus on dissonance on this EP - something present on the band's previous efforts, but not quite as prominent as it is here. Melodic sections and quirky instrumentals do creep up quite a bit, though, and keep the music from ever growing stale. Compositionally, the album is extremely strong, and features some of the band's finest material to date. The first track, "Specular Reflection", opens up The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues in full form. This epic, 11 and a half minute opus highlights Between the Buried and Me's more dissonant side, while also showcasing melodic sections with clean vocals as well as a very progressive song structure. "Augment of Rebirth" is a bit more of a heavy track, sporting plenty of brutal technicalities and harsh vocals. A few weird, almost circus-sounding sections also present here - "eclectic" is a fair word to describe this track, I guess. "Lunar Wilderness", while still quite heavy in parts, is the softest song on the EP. Plenty of beautiful melodies and warm arrangements make this an excellent closing track.
Of course, as we're used to from Between the Buried and Me, the musicianship is professional and spectacular across the board. These guys are technical behemoths, so certainly no complaints are warranted in that department. I do have an issue with how The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is produced, however. It's mixed way too loudly and sounds quite sterile and lifeless, especially during the heavier sections. It really lacks warmth and depth, if you ask me.
Despite my complaint regarding the production, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is overall a very successful effort from Between the Buried and Me. This isn't the best entry point into their discography, but it's an exceptional EP that serves as an essential purchase to all established fans of the band. 4 stars are very well deserved here. If super-technical, super-brutal, super-complex, and super-original progressive extreme metal is what you're looking for, then I can't recommend this one highly enough. Between the Buried and Me are considered one of the forerunners of modern metal, and this EP is even more proof that they've wholeheartedly earned that title!