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Between The Buried And Me - "The Great Misdirect" (CD)

Between The Buried And Me - "The Great Misdirect" CD cover image

"The Great Misdirect" track listing:

1. Mirrors (3:38)
2. Obfuscation (9:15)
3. Disease, Injury, Madness (11:03)
4. Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain (12:11)
5. Desert Of Song (5:33)
6. Swim To The Moon (17:54)

Reviewed by on November 7, 2009

"It turns out that Between The Buried And Me was only giving us the appetizer with “Colors.” If that album was a $10 bowl of lobster bisque, “The Great Misdirect” is the $30 piece of New York filet mignon."

Between The Buried And Me has been a band that paved its own path through metal by not sticking to any conventions or labels. For the longest time, metalcore was their assumed genre. It then evolved to progressive metalcore, before changing again into just plain-old progressive metal. Refusing to whore themselves out for commercial folly, the band has pushed their sound to the limit on every release. Their fourth album, “Colors,” was remarkable in its scope and dexterity, a concept album that actually felt like a cohesive, singular piece of music; a relic from the lost days of “Dark Side Of The Moon” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.”

The hype machine for “The Great Misdirect” has been on overdrive since it was first announced early this year. After the contemporary masterpiece of “Colors,” the task of following that up with something equally impressive could not have been more daunting. It turns out that Between The Buried And Me was only giving us the appetizer with “Colors.” If that album was a $10 bowl of lobster bisque, “The Great Misdirect” is the $30 piece of New York filet mignon.

The band could have easily just given us “Colors” Pt. 2, but “The Great Misdirect” is more of the culmination of every previous album. They have finally found the balance between their light and dark sides; heavy and calm melodies; brutal and complacent moods. As the album progresses on, Between The Buried And Me seems to finally be firmly planted in the direction that songs like “Sun Of Nothing” and “Ad A Dglgmut” hinted at.

While “Colors” had great individual tracks that were even better when played all at once, “The Great Misdirect” has phenomenal individual tracks that stand just as well as their own as played all together. Each song, from the 18-minute opus “Swim To The Moon” to the short intro “Mirrors,” shine with a maturity and growth that far exceeds anything attempted on previous albums. The confidence that oozes from the band is a major step forward that makes for many surprises.

“Obfuscation” was the first taste that anybody got of “The Great Misdirect” and while it’s a great tune with a killer opening riff and mesmerizing bass-led breakdown, it is actually the least surprising track on the album. The first major shocker comes with “Disease, Injury, Madness,” which is easily one of the greatest compositions the band has ever produced. It goes through a spectrum of tempos; aggressive in the beginning, soothing classical acoustic guitars plucking notes of pure bliss in the middle, and a blazing 70s hard rock conclusion with organ flourishes that would make Deep Purple nod in approval.

Jarring transitions like the hoe-down in “Ants Of The Sky” were one of the few flaws with "Colors," but Between The Buried And Me works to correct that issue on “The Great Misdirect.” Sure, hearing a jazzy piano intro on “Fossil Genera - A Feed From Cloud Mountain” that sounds like something out of an early 1900’s vaudeville show is strange; however, it all makes sense in the context of the song. There are still issues with transitions between harsh and clean sections ala Opeth’s “Orchid,” as if the song was pieced together haphazardly. Other than that, the production is fantastic, as each instrument comes in clear, without any notable digital flaws like heavy drum triggering or sterile guitar tones.

The band exposes a touching, almost beautiful, side with “Mirrors” and “Desert Of Song.” Both are performed entirely with clean vocals and show the astonishing vocal depth that vocalist Tommy Rogers has. While his screams and growls are still potent, his clean range has improved by leaps and bounds over the years, and these two tracks are the evidence of that. Guitarist Paul Waggoner even gets a chance to let loose vocally on the latter track, engaging in a dynamic back-and-forth with Rogers.

The immense musical talent of each member was never in doubt, but the band as a whole takes it to a whole other level on “The Great Misdirect.” Waggoner and Dustie Waring are the best young guitar duo in progressive metal and Rogers’ increased keyboard work adds layers of atmosphere to the entire album. The standout performances are from the rhythm team of bassist Dan Briggs and drummer Blake Richardson, who tear their way through an hour of music with the ferocity and technical chops of an early John Myung/Mike Portnoy combo.

Between The Buried And Me is making music that smashes barriers and tramples over any and all trends. “The Great Misdirect” is on par with “Colors” and actually surpasses it a few times. It’s mystifying that the band gets better and better as the years go on, as if there is no stop to their creative genius. “The Great Misdirect” is easily one of the best albums of the year and another sign that Between The Buried And Me are the new leaders of progressive metal.

Highs: Awe-inspiring musicianship, Tommy Rogers best vocal performance to date, perfect balance of melody and aggression, flawless production

Lows: Some awkward transitions still present, "Swim To The Moon" is a little too ambitious for its own good.

Bottom line: Between The Buried And Me continues their streak of phenomenal albums and proves that they are the best young progressive metal bands out there today.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)