Between The Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Record Label: Victory
Between The Buried and Me is a machine. There is no other explanation. The riffs, melodies, and compositions heard on albums like 2005’s Alaska and 2007’s Colors are just not something from human hands. The newest model of Between The Buried and Me, a.k.a. their fifth studio album The Great Misdirect, is built almost just like its predecessor, only this year’s model runs smoother, turns sharper, and hits harder.
You see, Colors, while mostly spectacular, ran a bit inconsistent and incoherent at times. Yes, it was one of the finer machines on the lot, but it had a few flaws. The North Carolina quintet has mostly corrected those flaws on The Great Misdirect. Continuing to cut the total amount of songs down (this time from 8 to 6), while keeping nearly the same length, the six tracks are refined. More focused and aggressive, while expanding on the tempos and vibes heard on Colors.
Between The Buried and Me always continue to push and deviate a bit from their traditional sound, and opening track “Mirrors” is a prime example. A relaxed track that is carried in an ambient vibe features stellar drumming from Blake Richardson, its light atmosphere gives the listener a false sense of environment. The track quickly (cruelly?) transitions into “Obfuscation,” which is everything you want in a BTBAM song: ferocious vocals, shredding riffs, clean breakdowns, and a tinge of melody. This continues for nine and a half minutes until “Disease, Injury, Madness” piledrives you into the pavement. The dynamic relationship between Richardson’s drumming and Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring’s guitar work is shown at full force here, giving the listener beautiful syncopated destruction. The middle of the track lulls you to sleep, but just like Lazarus, you’ll be risen from the dead by the huge riffs that charge through at the five-minute mark.
In what I fondly refer to as “Saloon-core,” “Fossil Genera – A Feed from Cloud Mountain” builds upon what Colors initially created. Vocalist Tommy Rogers sounds downright evil in the opening verses, as the keys give off a twisted vibe. This track is my absolute favorite on “The Great Misdirect” and it definitely shows the improvements that the band has made between releases. “Desert of Song” is another first for the band, bordering on alt-country and featuring Waggoner behind the microphone, a stark contrast from Rogers’ typical style. The vocal harmony between the two though is a definite treat on The Great Misdirect.
“Desert of Song” also gives you a chance to catch your breath and perhaps grab a beverage before album closer “Swim to the Moon” erupts. Clocking in at almost eighteen minutes, this track is almost a third of the entire length of The Great Misdirect, so you’ll need to be properly hydrated. The orchestration of this track is nothing short of magnificent and is the best track on the album. Usually bands release their greatest hits on an entire album; on “Swim to the Moon,” Between the Buried and Me released their greatest hits on one song, and then some. The eighteen minutes are well worth it, as “Swim to the Moon” is full of twists and turns, nooks and crannies, beautiful breakdowns, a sick drum solo from Richardson, and nice guest vocals from Chuck Johnson (the band’s merch/lights guy).
What else can be said of Between The Buried and Me? Well, I’ll start by saying The Great Misdirect is the band’s best work yet. It takes cues from its predecessors while tweaking their sound and minimizing previous flaws. Can one be too ambitious? Perhaps, but it doesn’t hinder Between The Buried and Me as one would think. Really though, instead of asking if they are too ambitious, we should be wondering how Between The Buried and Me plans on topping The Great Misdirect.
Good review man, that last paragraph sums things up really well. You didn't really touch much on the lyrics though, and gave them the lowest score (although it certainly could be worse) among the criteria. I really loved some of the stuff Tommy writes on this album, the highlight probably being the back and forth dialogue during the second section of "Disease, Injury, Madness." What was your take?
More focused or not, I still prefer Colors over this one. Maybe it's because I've had the time to fully sink Colors in. It's still a fun album. 'Disease, Injury, Madness', 'Fossil Genera', and 'Swim to the Moon' are high on the band's top song list, though at times it felt like they were close to repeating themselves.
Hell during the final track, I was I was half expecting Tommy to scream "White walls!' during the breakdown around 13:45.