Oh, the hell MR. BUNGLE has wrought.
It's not always mentioned, but Mike Patton and MR. BUNGLE have spawned an entire generation of genre-colliding hipsters in metal, but none of them possess the mathematic ingenuity and otherworldly talent of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, save for maybe PSYOPUS. The former is so damned fast you need more than a handful of listens to catch everything. The same could said of the prolific BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, yet there's been a kitsch and a verve to what they do they automatically preside over a doctorate class of their own design.
Only BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME has been able to turn death grind into pure theatricality. With some gore effects added to their onstage presence, they could resurrect the Grand Guinol for the metal generation, but we have GWAR for that, so all is well. As it is, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME's multifarious music is the spectacle itself. Everything they've recorded has been work talking about, while "Alaska" and "Colors" have presented the band with accolades of "masterpiece." Now, with the second half of their "Parallax" couplet, "Future Sequence", lightning strikes a third time.
As ever, one can expect to be hurtled through interchanging modes of grind and thrash with whirligig spelunking into prog, fusion, alternative, coldwave, trip hop, power metal, swing, chamber, Fifties rock 'n roll, classical-bred overtures, wood block knocking, flighty fluting and just about every imaginable variable BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME can effectively tweak the senses with. Xylophones, tubas and strings splice the manic "Extromophile Elite" prior to an exhilarating thrash sequence you know is destined to change hands momentarily thereafter. No mystery you next find yourself swimming in random channels filled with fusion and sitar-plucking before subsequently freefalling into a mind-raping vortex of detonation. This is but an examination of a handful of minutes comprising "Parallax II"'s 73 minutes of metallic braininess.
Tommy Rogers' propensity for Brian Wilson-peppered clean swoons (there's no denying a BEACH BOYS breeze circumventing through the lofting launch ode "Goodbye to Everything") is countered by some of the fiercest ralphing he's chucked out since "Alaska". His two vocal personae get equal representation through the album's winding epics, "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest", "Extremophile Elite", "Melting City", "Telos" and "Silent Flight Parliament".
You seldom feel respite with this album despite the breath-catching reverie of "Parallax" before you're served an opening slide of gorgeous sobriety on "The Black Box" that builds up to something more abusive. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME sculpts layers of slow-reaching volume on "The Black Box" that erupts instantaneously into the ten-plus minutes of chaos found on "Telos". The hyperspeed piano line and funky stride opening "Bloom" is destined for a brain-wrangling, polygonal overload of genre fiddling that the constituents of MR. BUNGLE are either applauding or growling silently amongst themselves they came a generation too soon. "Bloom" bleeds right into the crashing vigor of "Melting City" which almost sounds like Mozart has been teleported into the 21st century before vaulting in a hundred other directions. The most roundabout (and pleasing) of these bopping intercuts on "Melting City" is the ZOMBI-esque hum (think "Night Rhythms") that sets up the raging finale of this astral epic.
Whereas these algebraic maneuvers conveyed a purposeful chill factor throughout "Alaska" and a spectral effervescence through the PINK FLOYD trippiness lurking behind "Colors", there's no question "The Parallax II: Future Sequence" intends to take you into the vast reaches of the solar corona and invite you to delight in it or combust from the compression of it all. That is, if the band itself doesn't combust first. Such is the experience of a BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME album at its best, and "Parallax II" is the band at its most supreme. In space, they might not have been able to hear Sigourney Weaver scream, but Tommy Rogers and BETWEEN AND THE BURIED AND ME are likely to punch ultraviolet fissions into the minutest coronal holes in the Galilean latitudes of Callisto.
Of course, this review could've been summarized in one quick line: "Parallax II" is flippin' brilliant, as usual. The quandary BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME finds itself in at this point having written three genre masterpieces and others of high quality is figuring out where to go next. For all intents and purposes, this band has breached the final frontier. They've made demonstrative statements on how far tech grind death metal can be pushed. Everything else done in the methods of "Alaska", "Colors", "Parallax II" and even "The Great Misdirect" will be doomed to suffer redundancy.
For maximum absorption, this writer empirically ran "Parallax II" with some old NASA footage of the Apollo missions. Give that a shot or load the entire album onto your iPod and troll with it through the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Then you'll truly grasp the depth and magnitude of what BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME has accomplished. Again.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.