Between The Buried And Me - Alaska

11 songs
53:50 minutes
***** *****


North Carolina isn't exactly the cultural capital of the United States. The only thing worthwhile I can think of is the rural charm of the Andy Griffith Show (and remember, Mojo Nixon stated already that Otis Campbell is our leader). And then there is Between The Buried And Me, whose last album The Silent Circus scored a maximum rating on this here site, and apart from that I couldn't remember them being from NC, I have to admit that I was looking forward to listening to their already third album Alaska.

Their label puts them right next to Refused and Mars Volta when it comes to revolutionary song writing concepts, and while BTBAM may not yet be exactly in that league, they certainly have manufactured the best metalcore album of the year 2005, and I doubt that anyone will be able to surpass it in the near future. Where Dillinger Escape Plan have turned to a more melodic orientation with their last and excellent album, BTBAM take a more courageous approach and combine a multitude of genres into a mind-bending mixture that won't be easy to digest by the more reactionary hardcore fans. But that's where the pleasure starts. The generally long songs are full of ideas, and what starts one moment like progressive metalcore turns the next into compulsive grindcore orgies, just to bend 180 degrees backwards with jazzy rhythm work not unlike the glory days of progressive death metal (Cynic, Atheist, Pestilence). The Primer even sounds like modern Northern black metal, Selkies: The Endless Obsession starts like a regular Dream Theater song (and many of the band members are influenced by prog metal) and incorporates elements of melodic metal.

So are BTBAM a heavy metal band that accidentally turned progressive, or should we adopt the genre tech metal as it is defined in their Wikipedia article? I vote for the latter, seeing in this extraordinary band the logical successors of daring prog bands (WatchTower, Mekong Delta,...) without the Eighties metal clichés, instead opting for a more contemporary metalcore approach, alienating maybe those who prefer their music more straightforward, but at the same time embracing a sense of true progressive attitude that deserves again no less than the maximum rating. Alaska is one of the best and most daring albums I have come across this year.

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