Published Jul 08, 2015The past four years for Between the Buried and Me, since making the jump to Metal Blade Records, have revolved around their two-part concept record series The Parallax, with both instalments refining the Raleigh outfit's undeniable skill for genre blending and arranging. Right when we thought their progressive metal couldn't become any more ambitious, there's Coma Ecliptic, a full-scale concept record concerned with what happens inside one man's brain during prolonged unconsciousness.
That they've billed this as a full-blown rock opera should come as no surprise, based on the group's known admiration of their art-rock forefathers; BTBAM have covered works by Pink Floyd, Queen and King Crimson in the past. From the music right down to the Storm Thorgerson-esque cover art, this influence bubbles to the forefront of the record in a more noticeable fashion than their technical death metal roots do. As is typical of a rock opera, much more emphasis has been placed on frontman Tommy Giles Rogers' work as both lead vocalist and keyboardist. Reminiscent of his solo work, Rogers predominantly uses clean vocals alongside his scraping growl, trying on some uncharacteristic rock machismo on "The Ectopic Stroll." Giving a nod to the era of virtuosic keyboard players, Giles supports his vocals with subtle Mellotron on the bleak "Turn on the Darkness" and roaring rock organs on 10-minute marathon "Memory Palace."
Of course, the technical prowess of the rest of the band isn't overshadowed in the slightest. If anything, their arrangement skill has only improved, as they smoothly transition between genres and dynamics with ease, without the jarring shifts of past recordings. While the noticeable shift away from death metal may discourage some, Coma Ecliptic succeeds in pushing Between the Buried and Me's creativity in a new direction, avoiding a simple rehash of their winning formula. As one of few groups who have been doing the art of the concept album justice these past few years, their latest experiment within the style shouldn't be slept on. (Metal Blade)