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Between the Buried and Me's "Coma Ecliptic "- Review

Updated on August 28, 2015

When we heard Memory Palace, Coma Ecliptic’s first single, it sounded like the usual Between the Buried and Me. Heavy-but-still-operatic, complicated, long, extraterrestrial. It felt like the band was picking up exactly where they left, but it also felt slightly different. Weeks later, the first time I listened to the next single, The Coma Machine, I found it more prog than metal on its approach, and realized this also held true for Memory Palace.

Suspecting one of your favorite bands is changing directions might be disquieting for some people, but fans of the Raleigh quintet have as I’ve found out, a blind faith on their creativity and ability.

Now, months later, what we heard first makes sense in context. Coma Ecliptic definitely feels more like Dream Theater or King Crimson than like any of their Metal Blade label mates. It still contains moments of pure metal and brutal shredding (namely, Famine Wolf and Turn On the Darkness), but its adventurous, genre-bending flow (what the fuck was going on during The Ectopic Stroll?) and the featured role of Tommy Rogers’ keyboards and voice (Node, The Coma Machine) definitely stray from metal, veering into BTBAM’s forefathers’ art-rock territory.

It was a long-announced move: some sites reported that the band was writing a rock opera as early as October last year, a seemingly unsurprising notice given that most of theirs are concept albums. And still, the result was surprising and refreshing.

The Coma Machine

Even with Tommy Rogers in the spotlight, the mind-bending jumps between genres provide a new, different stage for BTBAM’s members to parade their already legendary prowess on. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring engage in their usual fretboard battles, but also show deep versatility during the album’s poppiest moments. Blake Richardson is wonderful as always, and Dan Briggs, the unsung hero, provides the “rumble from down under” and supports the development of the album as it jumps, slides and flows from one genre and rhythm to another.

Coma Ecliptic is a bold, conscious shift from the World Famous Between the Buried and Me Recipe for Success ®, established in Alaska, and tested and tried in many different variations through the last eight years. It denotes a creative effort by one of the most uncompromising artists of our time to be compared to the legendary albums their idols made in past generations. As accessible as BTBAM goes, it may be called their most apprehensible album, without needing to cede an inch of their song-writing standards and epic scope.

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