When "The Silent Circus" came out, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME took a sophomore effort and turned it into a career statement, one that would put heavy music fans on notice of great things to come. That great thing has arrived in the form of "Alaska", an album that is every bit the style blender of its predecessor, but this time a few new ingredients have been added to the musical stew. It's a marginally more accessible album, though not in a commercial sense; a better flow and melodic sections that reach out and grab should go a long way toward convincing the fence sitters. Those with a preference for traditional song structures and well-behaved tempos will continue to have difficulty with this one.I still can't get over the Scandinavian style folk-metal vocals and proggy power metal melodies on album-opener "All Bodies", a song that's in the running for the disc's strongest track. It's the last thing I would have expected and it's catchy as hell, yet doesn't seem out of place amidst the tech-death firestorm. Then again, this is BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, isn't it? Hearing is believing. And it's not the only place in which the prog (as in the genre…hell, everything is "progressive" here) pieces pop up. "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" rides the style, complete with keyboards and clean singing, before turning things back to death groove annihilation, but not without keeping the listener off balance with a light dreamy section that features bluesy guitar soloing and piano.
As captivating as the melodic bursts may be, the heavier fare still reigns supreme, this time the death metal bludgeoning sometimes taking on a Swedish style ("Autodidact" and "The Primer", for example) and finding company with grindcore lunacy. Notwithstanding the southern sludge crush and PRIMUS-like bass sections, "Roboturner" is technical death/grind that'll put cracks in those Coke bottle glasses of yours. When the brutal death pig vocals on "Croakies and Boatshoes" kicks in you'll swear you're listening to CEPHALIC CARNAGE. Both the title track and "Backwards Marathon" bombard with crunch, groove, and chaotic speed bursts, and still find time for the light, the ethereal, and the jazzy. "Alaska" is an exhilarating extreme music album. It's that simple. Make sure it becomes part of your collection.