BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME — Colors II

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BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - Colors II cover
3.97 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2021

Tracklist

1. Monochrome (3:14)
2. The Double Helix of Extinction (6:16)
3. Revolution in Limbo (9:12)
4. Fix the Error (5:00)
5. Never Seen / Future Shock (11:41)
6. Stare into the Abyss (3:53)
7. Prehistory (3:07)
8. Bad Habits (8:43)
9. The Future Is Behind Us (5:22)
10. Turbulent (5:52)
11. Sfumato (1:09)
12. Human Is Hell (Another One with Love) (15:07)

Total Time 78 min

Line-up/Musicians

- Tommy Rogers / vocals, keyboards
- Paul Waggoner / guitars
- Dustie Waring / guitars
- Dan Briggs / bass guitar
- Blake Richardson / drums, percussion

About this release

Full length studio album, Sumerian Records, August 20 2021.

Available on LP, CD and digitally.

Thanks to Pekka for the addition and silly puppy for the updates

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BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME COLORS II reviews

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siLLy puPPy
PROGRESSIVE METALCORE IN FULL COLOR!

As time goes on and the world sallies forth at an ever quickened pace, i have to admit that i like most suffer from a shortened attention span and therefore when i hear about an album that is getting lots of attention that is close to 80 minutes long, i’m a little hesitant to devote so much time to an album that i may or may not like. I could listen to TWO OTHER albums during that same timespan! However when the artist in question is an all time favorite like BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME i feel obligated to check it out especially when the album is somewhat of a sequel of their all time classic “Colors” which was their fourth album and remains their most successful and popular of all.

After a year of grinding to a halt due to the pandemic of 2020, BTBAM had time to reflect on where they had drifted ever since “Colors” hit the scene back in 2007. As it turns out with every subsequent album the band had slowly but surely tamped down the metalcore angst and instead ramped up the progressive rock attributes which while still in fine form seemed to have lost something in the shedding of all those core values that made the band stand out in the first place. Arriving in 2021, the band has released its tenth studio album titled COLORS II which sort of goes back in time and picks up where the first “Colors” left off.

Shockingly for a 21st century extreme metal band BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME has kept the same exact lineup for a very long time and that means that the same musicians who played on the original “Colors” album are back to take things to the next level. These guys have had plenty of time to hone every detail in a glimmering sheen and COLORS II finds the band returning to past glories in surprisingly good form. Guitarist Paul Waggoner has stated that “Colors” was the result of a do or die statement where the band had to shit or get off the pot that meaning it needed to find its own sound and fast to remain relevant in a crowded metal market. A similar moment of reflection occurred during the pandemic where BTBAM took a moment to see where they had steered their musical vessel in the decade and a half since their lauded breakthrough. The band decided it was time to revisit some long lost moments.

COLORS II was designed to flow like a sequel and in many ways it does just that. The album starts off with a non-metal intro and slowly builds momentum until the jarring metalcore rampages of the past shine through once again and like the previous “Colors” allows non-metal musical genres to intermingle and punctuate the cacophonous din in most unexpected ways. The progressive elements such as time signature changes and extended running times are in full regalia on COLORS II. Three of the eight tracks sally forth beyond the ten minute mark with the final epic “Human Is Hell (Another One With Love) ” inching past the 15-minute mark. The stated intent of COLORS II was to create a metal album with an underpinning gospel vibe of all things and although the sounds of gospel are heard from time to time, it would be impossible to discern this motive by listening to the music alone. When all is said and done, this really does sound like the phantom album that followed the original “Colors” that in some alternative universe would have emerged in place of where we experienced “The Great Misdirect.”

Usually i avoid so-called comeback sequels like the plague. The track record in the metal world hasn’t been too positive for these perceived schemes of reviving past glories for profit’s sake. Just a few failed attempts that come to mind are Queenryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime II,” Alice Cooper’s “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” and the plethora of bands that “secretly” revisit an older style without blatantly recycling an album title, i.e. Pantera’s “Reinventing The Steel” amongst many. However despite my trepidation and hesitancy to finally check out COLORS II, i’m pleasantly surprised that it surpasses any expectations and proves that BTBAM still had plenty of proggy metalcore mojo stored up from the “Colors” era which obviously needed to be expressed and finally 14 years later has come to fruition. It’s also not a surprise that BTBAM has a fetish for double dipping into concept albums. After all COLORS II emerges just three years after the two album set for “Automata” and lest we forget the excellent “Parallax” EP and album set.

OK, COLORS II turns out to be no waste of time.

THE GOOD. This is yet another competent album by a band that continues to churn out one innovative and excellent progressive extreme metal album after another. The band shows no sign of burning out and COLORS II allows the unresolved extras of the original “Colors” era to finally emerge. The musicianship is top notch as always and the creativity is firing on all pistons. The band remain absolute masters of juxtaposing everything from jazz funk and polka music to straight on rock with the gnarliest metalcore there is to be heard.

THE BAD. As good as this album is, it does reek of a been here done that before vibe. It’s in all regards a retro album but at least BTBAM are mining their own past and not another artist’s. There’s nothing substantially different from the original “Colors” to really differentiate in the bigger picture save a few new sounds and effects that pop up from time to time. COLORS II at its core is exactly what the title suggests, the second coming. Whether another dose of “Colors” is what scratches the itch or not is a personal decision really but for my tastes COLORS II passes with, well flying COLORS!

Granted almost 80 minutes is a lengthy commitment and will surely prevent many newbies from taking the plunge but for those already indoctrinated into the cult of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, this is yet another release that while not quite living up to its namesake of yore still rises to be a worthy successor.
Necrotica
Colors II is a loaded album title if I’ve ever seen one. 14 years down the line, it seems our friendly neighborhood prog-tech-core-death-etc. band has seen fit to draw from the well of their breakthrough masterwork; and really, why shouldn’t they? Colors remains one of the most acclaimed metal albums of the 2000s, practically redefining what it meant to be a progressive metal band going forward. Between the Buried and Me’s penchant for creative musical set pieces and genre-bending craziness really hit a stride on the landmark record; however, as with any album that garners that much adoration, there will always be that lingering pressure to top it. But let’s be real here: 2021 Between the Buried and Me is quite different from 2007 Between the Buried and Me. So much has changed, whether that be the inclusion of even more off-the-wall avant-garde elements or the growing prominence of vocalist Tommy Giles as a keyboardist. But I think the reason for Colors II being a loaded title is fairly obvious; it’s a title intended to cause excitement for fans - especially longtime ones - but that could quickly turn into crushing disappointment if Colors’ level of quality isn’t at least somewhat met.

On a surface level, Colors II does seem to provide exactly what it should: a highly enjoyable followup to Colors that mirrors it stylistically. The same techy riffs, blazing solos, crazy genre experiments, atmospheric synth excursions, and juxtaposition of clean and growled vocals… they’re all still here. And if stuff like that is your criteria for loving the record, I can’t blame you. “Monochrome” is a pretty dead giveaway that there will be references to the original album, the song taking on a similar “piano intro to extreme metal” crescendo to “Foam Born A: The Backtrack” which opens Colors. On the other hand, there are a few experiments that really surprised me, as they likely wouldn’t have found a place on the original record at all; the hardcore punk elements of “Fix the Error” and random fife-driven folk breaks in “Never Seen/Future Shock” immediately come to mind. Meanwhile, you’ll find more familiar territory with songs such as the chugging extreme-yet-melodic approach of “The Double Helix of Extinction” or the “White Walls”-esque rolling drums and complex web of riffs that comprise closer “Human is Hell (Another One With Love)”.

The performances, as you’d expect at this point, are fantastic. The members really haven’t lost a beat since the original Colors in regards to playing such complex and technical material with grace and confidence. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring remain a formidable guitar duo, whether it be navigating the crazy rhythm parts of the Dream Theater-esque intro to “Prehistory” or the beautiful - and vaguely jazzy - chords found on “Stare Into the Abyss”. Waggoner is particularly noteworthy for some of the striking leads he pulls off on this record, especially in the fantastic… uh, Latin circus section(?) (that’s probably the best way I can describe it) at the end of “Revolution in Limbo”. And obviously Dan Briggs and Blake Richardson still bring the thunder on the low end of things. However, the member who deserves the most recognition for Colors II is definitely Tommy Giles. He’s often the member who garners the most criticism from both fans and detractors, but he sounds so much better here than he did on the original Colors. His growls have stayed largely the same, but you can tell his cleans have come a long way - both in technique and confidence behind the mic. Plus, on songs like “Prehistory” and “Never Seen/Future Shock” his way of hamming up the more theatrical bits is just so fun.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing holding Colors II back from the heights of its predecessor, and I think it’s a pretty big one. That being: the glue that holds everything together. The original Colors was unapologetic about having wild flights of fancy and not giving a fuck what direction the music was going, but there was always some centralized location the music could come back to. And that was usually in the form of a cathartic release, whether it be the beautiful “feed me fear” section of “Informal Gluttony” or the soaring Pachelbel-esque melody that rears its head twice on “Ants of the Sky”. Not only were these moments anthemic and memorable, but they were also a great way of ensuring the more technical and crushing sections didn’t kill the record’s focus. More importantly, the music would have simply become riff salad without these moments of restraint, and that’s where Colors II all too often hits a wall. 79 minutes is already a beefy album length to begin with, and there simply isn’t enough focus to maintain that runtime. This is particularly felt in “Human is Hell (Another One With Love)”, which just meanders on without much of a reason for being 15 damn minutes long. Even the pleasant soft section that builds up the song’s conclusion is just kinda… there. Sure, there are a few potentially anthemic moments on the record, such as the “monotonous drought” section from “Revolution in Limbo”, but the album really could have benefitted from more of these segments.

With all of that said, I think Colors II can be enjoyed more for its craftsmanship than as an emotional journey. The compositions and diverse arrangements are still a lot of fun and the performances are incredibly solid, but the album often comes off as a jumbled mess when compared to its predecessor; it doesn’t help that so many parts mirror that record as well, thus constantly inviting further comparison. But then again, that’s what happens when you brand it as a sequel, right? The callbacks were inevitable. However, given a lot of the amazing material that’s here, it’s just a shame that I don’t feel much of anything when listening to it like I did with the original Colors. Still, it’s worth a listen for its abundance of great riffs and impressive technical acumen, so don’t miss out on it if you’ve enjoyed Between the Buried and Me’s more recent work.

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