By Joe Kovack
Sometimes heavy metal gets a bad rap. For those unfamiliar with the genre it can seem like a loud, angry, fast-paced scream fest that lacks any true merit or musical composition. While it is loud and intense, there are bands like Between the Buried and Me that create progressive metal which can parallel many orchestral works. As long as you don’t mind the screaming.
The band has pushed the limits of metal since their inception in the early 2000s. Their brand of complex music straddles the line of death metal and symphonic theory and creates an arrangement that takes intricate guitar rhythms, convoluted time signatures and vocals that go from death growl to melodic harmonies, and turns them into an array of sounds that don’t belong to any one genre. With the release of their latest album Parallax II: Future Sequence, the band moves their music a step further by making a concept album, the first of their career. But like anything in life, their chemistry was earned and not inherent.
“Our first lineup just fizzled out,” said guitarist and founding member Paul Waggoner, in a recent interview with The Marquee. “Sometimes when you start touring more you realize that this isn’t for me, and you don’t want to live in a van and smell like shit all the time,” laughed Waggoner. “You have to find people that share the vision, that have chemistry within the writing process and get along on the road. Sometimes that takes a while, that’s why a lot of bands break up or never make it off the ground. It’s not a talent thing, everyone has to be committed to it for the long haul. Especially if you’re playing this type of music,” Waggoner said.
After a few years of trials and tribulations, the band found their chemistry and have had their current lineup since releasing their third full-length album Alaska in 2005.
Shockingly, the band that stands for over-the-top loud takes their name from another band’s song, and that band is almost as un-metal as you can get. The name comes from “Ghost Train,” a Counting Crows song. “There was something about the phrase itself that you can interpret in multiple ways. To me, it always had this seize the day meaning, because there is this finite line between right now and your death. That’s what it means to me, it’s a reminder of my own mortality,” Waggoner admitted.
Just as the band’s name incorporates the idea of mortality, their latest record uses everyday themes to create a story of humanity’s mortality, one that ultimately ends in destruction. “We had already done Colors, which musically was a concept, but we had never done a lyrically conceptual album that told a story,” Waggoner said. “There’s a lot of introspection in it. There are themes of betrayal and loneliness, but then there’s the bigger themes of humanity as a destructive species, that we’re on a collision course with destroying the only planet we have to live on, that humanity is a flawed species and perhaps our mental development is the greatest evil of all; the fact that we can become so technologically advanced but still be very destructive,” Waggoner said of the new album.
Unlike tour mates Coheed and Cambria, who are known for their five-album saga titled The Armory Wars, this concept album is no saga and ends with the final song on Parallax II. The album was built to be a cohesive piece of musical composition, but also set up so that each song could stand on its own. “We intentionally wanted each song to have a beginning, middle, and end. Whereas with Colors, that was really just one big song,” said Waggoner.
And while their songs exude a presence of complexity not found in many other metal bands, it is the result of the band’s natural writing process. “It goes back to the broad spectrum of influences we have. Everybody writes on their own and all these ideas, even though they are very different from one another, somehow all end up fitting together. And with each record it gets easier and it’s more of an organic experience. There’s never a shortage of ideas and that’s how we end up with these 15-minute-long songs,” Waggoner said.
While the band will only have an hour to showcase their chops to the crowd, they are excited to bring their vision to an audience that may not necessarily know them well. “The show will be a mix of our last two records and we’re going to cram six songs in there,” said Waggoner. “We’re just trying to tailor it to the Coheed fans in a way; more of the melodic stuff as opposed to the heavier stuff. We’re definitely going to showcase who we are as a band, but maybe we’ll be able to trick some Coheed fans into liking us.” Fans of the band can expect a headlining tour later this year, in which they plan on playing the whole Parallax II album front to back.
:: Between the Buried and Me ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: February 14 ::
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