Between The Buried and me are in a great phase right now, already respected
and with several classics under their belt, more plenty of “prove your mettle”
tours under their belts and a reputation up there with the best. BTBAM, with
Coma Ecliptic, step out of the shadow of Parallax and into their most concise
yet still deftly ambitious work ever. Alaska had heart and showed promise and
other moments like The Great Misdirect (a personal favorite) showed BTBAM were
unafraid to reinvent themselves or push at their corners with a flare akin to
Wilco, Mastodon, Candiria, Radiohead- bands with the hunger. Parallax is a
Crack The Skye or Dark Side of the Moon moment in BTBAM’s history, but not
their last hurrah.
“The Coma Machine” is perhaps my fave statement from the group yet as it is
really air tight even though lengthy and full of movement. Perhaps it is the
Scrooge-like theme of a man looking back on memories within each track, but
entire journey is impossible to miss. If you skip a track, like Cynic’s Kindly
Bent To Free Us, you’ll likely be compelled to go back and hear what you
missed. And with good cause, as “Memory Palace” alone is several awesome movements.
“The Coma Machine” is miles above what the rest of the pack have done this
year, like a Queen moment that BTBAM have been secretly manifesting for ages,
albeit through a Porcupine Tree, semi-sleek delivery. There are amazing bands
like Leprous and Scale The Summit coming close, but BTBAM are really at the
top of the game when it comes to a younger act with such prog heavy influences
who combine both showmanship, songwriting and the personification of their art
so, so completely.
The production is clear and the tones and sounds pristine but unique. It
reminds me of some of the work Andy LaRocque has been doing with Shining.
“Dim Ignition” almost sounds like freakin’ Youth Code meets Radiohead or
something, and it’s fantastic. The groove and weird Night Rider vibes drop in
and you’re done. Slagel is a genius for getting this band comfortable enough
with their label home to just slam out classic after classic the last few
releases. “The Ectopic Stroll” has some very serious Bungle/FNM Patton
elements to my ears, a sense of tomfoolery and acid breath with circus level
insanity and some funk thrown in to boot. “Memory Palace” drives with the
confidence of Steve Vai but those crazy drum patterns and lush keys BTBAM fans
crave. And the vocals on this record? Tommy outdid himself.
And we end it all with “Life in Velvet”, a Dear Hunter friendly kind of serene , piano driven jaunt into Wonderland that makes you happy for the good and the bad. All the life that fits. It’s a somber but simultaneously whimsical and powerful statement that explodes like a supernova into the great beyond in a way The Devil Wears Prada just started to touch with their unfortunately too brief Space EP.
Order the record HERE.