Tucson, AZ – July 19th, 2015
Written by Jeff Hewitt
Progressive metal rockers Between The Buried And Me of Raleigh, North Carolina, arrived to Tucson’s 1,200-person capacity venue Club XS nine days after the release of their seventh full-length studio album, Coma Ecliptic. The new record is described as a “rock opera,” with similarities to Dream Theater’s classic Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory. Having been a veteran to progressive rock but a rookie with some of BTBAM’s music, this comparison very much sparked my interest. To my attraction, it is apparent that their most recent material contains less screaming from lead singer and keyboardist Tommy Rogers, especially when compared to the previous albums in which their fans are most familiar. BTBAM’s sound has moved into a more creative direction by enhancing their melodic and harmonic vocabulary with pop and jazz styles creeping into their signature metalcore sound. Thanks to the technicality of Paul Waggoner’s guitar playing, his presence continues to add more dimensions to the band, although some of the keyboard textures could be tweaked with a richer sound on certain tracks. While billed as the headliner for this tour, Between The Buried And Me was joined by two other metal heavyweights, Animals As Leaders and The Contortionist.
Following Animals As Leaders’ instrumental set, I knew it would be difficult to top this trio with so much virtuosity and musicianship. Amped by Animals As Leader’s fretboard fireworks and effortless drumming chops, the audience of several hundred fans remained pushed to the front of the stage in anticipation for the headlining act. As Between The Buried And Me entered the stage, they immediately broke into “Selkies: The Endless Obsession,” one of their most notable songs from their highly acclaimed Alaska album. As Rogers combined his screams, growls, and lyrical lines throughout the set, the center of the crowd expanded into a violent mosh pit regularly found at metal shows. The energy on stage always augments the environment of every performance, and the intensity of these pits has not weakened over the years since their conception at hardcore shows of the early 1980s. Had BTBAM traveled alone on this tour, it would not have been a surprise if they performed their entire new concept album, Coma Ecliptic, in its entirety. Since their set lasted just over an hour, they played only three epic tracks from the record. Two songs from their previous release, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, were performed consecutively, and they closed the set with “Ants of the Sky” from Colors. After a short pause, they returned to the stage to perform their final song “White Walls,” another favorite track from Colors. A metal show is always successful when the music is compelling and unique, the band keeps the rock alive, and no one gets “critically” injured. As expected, Between The Buried And Me (as well as their contemporaries) succeeded that sweltering evening in the desert. However, remember to wear your earplugs next time!
Selkies: The Endless Obsession (Alaska)
The Coma Machine (Coma Ecliptic)
Astral Body (The Parallax II: Future Sequence)
Lay Your Ghosts to Rest (The Parallax II: Future Sequence)
Memory Palace (Coma Ecliptic)
Famine Wolf (Coma Ecliptic)
Ants of the Sky (Colors)
White Walls (Colors)