Between the Buried and Me: The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

Not surprisingly, Between the Buried and Me's new EP is longer than some full-length albums.

Between the Buried and Me

The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

Label: Metal Blade
US Release Date: 2011-04-12
UK Release Date: 2011-04-11
Artist Website

When a band breaks as much new ground in as short a span as between the Buried and Me did between 2003 and 2007, the expectations from audiences seem to grow exponentially. Some bands work best within a set musical template, but others, like the North Carolina quintet, absolutely thrive when they're in full experimentation mode, as albums like 2005's Alaska and 2007's Colors were thrilling displays of just how prodigious these progressive metal youngsters can be. Two years ago, the follow-up The Great Misdirect toned down the insanity just enough to have audiences wondering if Beween the Buried and Me was starting to sound just the tiniest bit predictable, but the songs were strong enough to assuage fears that the band was in any sort of creative rut.

After a swift, highly ambitious formative period, though, you can't blame a band for settling down a little, contentedly remaining in the niche they created for themselves. The Dillinger Escape Plan did just that on last year's Option Paralysis, which ditched all the genre-blurring experimentation in favor of, well, making songs that sounded like people expected the Dillinger Escape Plan to sound like. Not that there was anything wrong with that – the album was anything but boring – but it was a far cry from the mind-blowing Ire Works from a few years prior.

With a new record deal with Metal Blade after years spent at Victory, Between the Buried and Me seems to find itself in a similar situation. Whether you want to call it an album or a rather long EP, the three song, 33 minute The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues sees the band in a same comfort zone as their peers in Dillinger. In other words, there's nothing at all new they're doing here, but what matters most is just how fresh they can make this new material sound, predictable as it all may feel.

So it comes as very good news that the eleven minute-plus "Specular Reflection" kicks off the new record with the band sounding in peak form. Starting off with a mélange of piano, brass, and strings that echoes classical composers Krzysztof Penderecki and György Ligeti, the song erupts into a ferocious death metal passage that quickly segues into a series of noisecore riffs nicked from the Botch playbook. It's quintessential Between the Buried and Me, vocalist Tommy Rogers alternating from roars to cleanly sung passages atop the labyrinthine composition. What elevates the track, though, is the band's use of tension, something they've never quite mastered until now. By loosening and tightening their grip on the arrangements, knowing exactly when to hold back, "Specular Reflection" takes on a Tool-like vibe, culminating in an enthralling mid-song movement reminiscent of Ænima. Psychotic BTBAM is always fun to hear, but understated BTBAM proves to sound just as exciting, and the ride "Specular Reflection" takes listeners on is enormously fun. It's the band's best moment since "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" six years ago.

Oddly, the other two songs on the record don't quite measure up to the superb opening cut. "Augment of Rebirth" attempts to push the same buttons as the opening track, but that all-important hook, something that's come so easily to the band for years, just isn't there as the song shifts to cabaret-derived oompah and animal noises in an attempt to make it semi-memorable. Although the riffing by guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring is as tight as ever, it all goes for naught because the song goes nowhere. "Lunar Wilderness" is a slight improvement, the arrangement, complicated as it is, making enough room to let melodies to creep sporadically into the mix. And at the very least, once again the band puts its skill at song dynamics to use to good effect.

The slight inconsistency of The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues is enough to convince listeners that if this were a proper album and not merely a stopgap release to satiate the fans, the overall quality of the material would be stepped up considerably. Yours truly would highly recommend purchasing only "Specular Reflection" on iTunes, but cunningly, Metal Blade has only made it available if you buy the entire EP, and paying full price for one great song and two half-decent ones is a lot harder to justify. It's not a total waste of your cash, but for the casual listener, be sure to sample it before you buy.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.