Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Between The Buried And Me's growth from an overly ambitious metalcore troupe into one of metal's most inventive and musically adept bands, able to effortlessly blends extreme metal with rock, hardcore, jazz and progressive elements, has been nothing short of amazing. But over the band's first two efforts for Metal Blade - 2011's The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP and now with its full-length follow up Parallax II: Future Sequence, their ambitions seem to be getting the best of them once again.
Like the EP, Parallax II – the band's sixth full-length - is an exercise in too much of, well, everything. And there’s lots more of it this time. It's a skull-scrambling mishmash that sounds like Mr. Bungle, The Beach Boys and King Crimson all got thrown in a blender, splashed with death/math metal and a shot of hardcore and then left to spin for 72 dizzying minutes. “Extremophile Elite,” which could well describe the band here, even trots out some wacky Looney Tunes-like cartoon caterwauling a la Fantomas' Suspended Animation.
The collection of twists, turns, tempo changes, mood swings, stops and starts, and the constant tug of war between beauty and brutality on Parallax II is stupefying and exhausting. Four tracks clock in at around 10 minutes and the penultimate “Silent Flight Parliament” meanders over a tumultuous 15. And just when you latch onto a cool riff or embrace one of the many melodic passages, the band shift into hyperdrive or rocket off on some insane tangent and leave you wheezing in the dust.
Of course to even try something this audacious requires top-drawer musicianship and technical mastery, and BTBAM more than have the requisite chops, starting with Tommy Rogers whose elastic vocals and deftly understated keyboards/effects help tie together – or at least try to – this incredibly complex and complicated package. Yet, incredibly – and thankfully - there's nothing especially showy or masturbatory about Parallax: no long, flashy solos or extended, indulgent jams. But with as much going on here as there already is, there's really isn't much room for anything else
Even at just three songs and about a half-hour, the Parallax EP was a lot to digest, and it seemed like a good idea that BTBAM cut things off where they did there. Parallax II doubles down on everything and only proves that premise correct.