Released: 2006, Victory Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
North Carolina’s Between The Buried and Me have bridged genres since their inception. Taking equal parts metalcore, jazz, grind, emo and prog, BTBAM are as reviled by nearly as many fans as they are embraced and their latest effort, an all-covers album entitled THE ANATOMY OF, will surely do nothing to change that. Assembling a collection of songs from bands that won’t surprise too many metal fans (Pantera, Metallica, Sepultura, Motley Crue, Faith No More), it is on the non-metal tracks that BTBAM really shines. Across the board, the band stays very close to the original classics however hearing Blind Melon, Faith No More, Depeche Mode, Pantera and Counting Crows in succession will take even the most liberal-minded music fan to task. THE ANATOMY OF is like listening to a karaoke version of a mix tape, only with talented musicians at the helm instead of liquored-up girls and sake-soaked Japanese businessmen.
The surprises are left at the choice of tracks/bands because the note-for-note renditions of all fourteen of the cuts here is about as faithful as anyone could expect. The guitar tone, vocal inflections, tempo, etc. have all been retained. Tommy Rogers’ death metal vocals on Metallica’s “Blackened” and Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried To Live” are obviously different from the originals but musically, it sounds like a cut-and-paste job. Not to take anything away from the musicians in BTBAM because executing such a pitch perfect copy of so many diverse songs must have been painstaking. The talk box on Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart,” Freddie Mercury’s operatic vocals and piano on Queen’s “Bicycle Race,” the trippy sax haze of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them,” Dimebag Darrell’s haunting guitar melodies of Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates”…BTBAM have flawlessly replicated them all here. Amazingly, the band has even given Metallica’s “Blackened” the proper production sound that eluded the original! Rogers nails Billy Corgan’s nasally sneer on The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.” and Paul Waggonner and Dustie Waring let loose on guitar to match James Iha’s grunge-era noodling. The only real dud is the cover of Faith No More’s “Malpractice,” which was a terrible song to begin with, but the choices here are interesting, well-played and enjoyable.
I am not a fan of Between The Buried and Me’s music but their treatment of songs that helped shape and influence their sound on THE ANATOMY OF is an interesting trip. The band has outlined their reasons for their choices in extensive notes for each track but recording such an eclectic collection of tracks for fan consumption earns BTBAM an award for “Balls of Steel.” Recording an album of cover songs also carries an inevitable conundrum: changing such well-known and loved songs drastically garners cries of blasphemy (Six Feet Under’s GRAVEYARD CLASSICS), while staying true to the original gets boring pretty quickly, too (Six Feet Under’s GRAVEYARD CLASSICS 2). BTBAM manages to drift ever-so-slightly away from the originals to make them sound different while holding on to an almost identical sound. Juggling musical hats as diverse as Blind Melon and Sepultura seems incomprehensible but how Between The Buried and Me do it so well is an art-form and one that must be heard to fully appreciate.