BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME never lets any potential for creativity buzz by. Instead, the popular prog metal band harnesses its momentum, and here releases the genre-crashing second installment of its "Automata" venture, the first one arriving only a few months ago.
To recap "Automata"'s plot, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME created a future society where the possibility of dreams being subjected to broadcast for public consumption is alarmingly real. Capitalizing on the hyper-consuming yet desensitized world we live in today, the "me" aspect that accompanies social media, reality television and divided lines, media goes one step further with a speculative redetermination of invasion of privacy and taboo.
The 13:18 opener, "The Proverbial Bellow", offers new sensations even for this band, with Paul Waggoner, Dustie Waring and Dan Briggs swimming through some of the most intricate guitar lines the band has yet offered. YES-like progressions emanate with sprinkled organs and heavily panting piano, all through the song's opening, at nearly three minutes, before Tommy Giles Rogers's vocals seep in. This is probably the purest prog piece BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME has yet conjured, scaling back its trademark blast grinds and extreme yelping—both of which do manifest, fret not—in exchange for spooling the grand spectacle implied by the first installment. Funky measures strut within the track's note-blipping matrix, power prog taking cue behind a brief alt interlude. No matter how effortlessly the band navigated subgenres like madcap pioneers on "Colors", it's special that BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME still has the wherewithal, not merely the capacity, to dazzle within its customarily sprawling constructs.
You nearly bust out laughing at the woozy accordion greeting you on the 2:13 "Glide", which treads tensely along like a would-be Danny Elfman treatment, knocking out a hilarious cabaret finish the DRESDEN DOLLS would no doubt appreciate. Then afterwards, what...the...bloody...hell? Even knowing MR. BUNGLE's work intimately doesn't prepare you for the swing, boogie and metal collision here on "Voice of Trespass". A nutty flamenco guitar line, xylophone plinks, and Blake Richardson's hastily dropped big band drum solo are part of the fun. Make no bones, "Voice of Trespass" is fun even with Tommy Rogers's grim chant toward the end, "We are hollow...condemned to the gallows."
Gary Numan-esque synths escort the intro to the 9:45 finale, "The Grid", an effective bookend to "Automata"'s first installment. The harder this number grows, the more BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME becomes determined to offset its gross pissiness with geeky keys and wayward languor. The blunt mood collision is "The Grid"'s finest asset, never mind its controlled flow.
Pushing the boundaries further than the first "Automata", this is genius-level lunatic art. Just another day at the office for this band, of course.