Metal Blade Records
October 9th, 2012
Release length: 1:12:39
If you’ve enjoyed the most recent Between the Buried and Me albums, you already know what to expect from the audio. There’s a definite focus on the bass in a stereotypical Progressive manner. The guitars have a bit of a sharper sound that can end up a bit in the background, while the bass is much louder with a deeper presence behind it. The drumming is often drowned out because of it, such as the tighter snares and especially the click of the bass kick. The cymbals, however, are the opposite, pulling the attention away greatly with a crisp quality that stands out above all the instruments, including the more obvious presence of the cleaner guitar chords in the solos. There’s also the keyboards and their various influences throughout, but again they can be more in the background at times with enough of a level that it does fill the music well enough. The vocals stand out in the mix through the various approaches, ranging from shouting to clean singing, and again they seem to have different levels. The latter often seems a bit buried, while the others have a little extra energy and drive behind them that tear through the music.
The Parallax II: Future Sequence clocks in at over seventy-two minutes in length, and really hones in on a sporadic musical approach throughout it. Depending how far the band goes, this can work for or against the album in extreme levels. For example, “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest” starts out fluid, but gradually builds to utter chaos, moving from groovey passages and galloping drumming to blast beat madness, Surf music, and even carnival-style themes at a slower pace, all by the time you hit the half-way point. “Extremophile Elite,” however, doesn’t quite shift around as dynamically. There are changes to the music, such as incorporating a xylophone solo in one area, as well as directing away from the Metalcore sound to a more Progressive Rock approach. Unlike “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest,” much of it transitions in and out well, and eventually does grow into a steady pace for much of the song despite the sudden shift into a light hearted guitar solo.
But, the songs that don’t go to these sort of extremes are the ones that really stand out the most. The fluid “Astral Body” carries the atmosphere of the title well. The lead guitars often establish more of an astral sense to the music, moving towards more of a Classical performance in the riffs and a powerful vocal performance that actually gives the song plenty of epic moments. You also have some breakdowns to contend with, and slower passages with altered clean singing, but they are kept within the flow thanks to the lead chords performed that largely remain the same from start to finish. “Telos” has a pretty strict flow to it as well, only really going out of the way for things like a breakdown with some deeper growling and odd whistle sounds with some chaotic-sounding leads. At one point there are some beeping effects utilized through the keyboards, and more of a laidback Jazz style comes through, but again the transition works well to make it all seem like one fluid song with a natural moment of reflection amid the attack. “Silent Flight Parliament” can be summed up this way too, but for being over fifteen minutes, it surprisingly lacks a lot of shifts in music, though a few knee-jerk ones will occur here and there for a few seconds, suiting the rapid-fire pace of the song that happens to build at that time.
The other aspect of this album are the various shorter tracks that act as atmospheric bridges. Many of them aren’t bad and do work to bleed one song into another, but sometimes they can go a little further. “Parallax” doesn’t quite carry the spirit of “Extremophile Elite,” but it does offer a soft spoken-word narration that adds a little more to the story being laid out against some astral music. This chapter is cut into two for some reason though, moving into “The Black Box” and leaving the astral elements behind for a keyboard performance that tries to sound more like a classical piano with clean singing layered over it.
It seems the more Between the Buried and Me continue to grow, the more erratic their music becomes. However, even though there’s still a good amount of sporadic changes, it seems the band has finally refined their sound and how to progress their music with each song. The Parallax II: Future Sequence isn’t the most impressive of their discography, but it’s still a good album none-the-less. There’s plenty of good songs that walk the lines of Metalcore and other related styles, as well as a hefty Progressive touch that presents beautiful musical landscapes with helpless astral foundations that feel like they are all within reach. But, with that said, there’s no denying the seventy-two minute plus length of the album does come off a bit overkill given the quality of the material present, and chances are good a few spins later you’ll become a little bored and want to head back into their previous offerings more than spend additional time with the Parallax storyline. Overall, fans of Between the Buried and Me won’t be let down by The Parallax II: Future Sequence, but once the initial shock is over, you’ll still enjoy the final product, but the enthusiasm to dive head first into the furthering of this specific concept will more than likely die down a bit.
01. Goodbye to Everything – 1:39
02. Astral Body – 5:02
03. Lay Your Ghosts to Rest – 10:02
04. Autumn – 1:18
05. Extremophile Elite – 9:59
06. Parallax – 1:16
07. The Black Box – 2:11
08. Teios – 9:45
09. Bloom – 3:29
10. Melting City – 10:20
11. Silent Flight Parliament – 15:09
12. Goodbye to Everything Reprise – 2:29
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.