Review by Lucy Gliddon
“The Parallax II: Future Sequence” is the seventh and most recent studio album from progressive metal outfit Between the Buried and Me. A continuation of the concept introduced on the band’s 2011 EP “The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues”, it is a melting pot of genres and audible influences ranging from Pink Floyd and Dream Theater-style prog, to jazz fusion and technical death metal.
Likely to be favoured most by musicians who can truly appreciate the complexity of the band’s sound, the album offers something to fans of a broad spectrum of musical styles. The aforementioned concept is based on the idea that humanity is a “destructive species”, and the story is told through two characters named Prospect I and Prospect II.
Album opener “Goodbye to Everything” gently introduces the listener to “The Parallax II: Future Sequence” with a brief Pink Floyd-style musical piece with clean vocals throughout, suiting the music beautifully.
The track is followed by “Astral Body”; one of the album’s highlights which starts as a song in the vein of Dream Theater’s “Octavarium”, which then evolves into a brief Spanish-style section, before building in intensity. This is the first introduction to harsher vocals, which are perhaps an acquired taste against what is a fairly happy tone of music.
Next up is “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest; a more complex, proggy track which doesn’t make for such easy listening as the two openers. An interesting melodic bassline contrasts with syncopated drums and guitars to create a chaotic sound which Between the Buried and Me have become renowned for. Nightmare-ish, carnival-sounding sections come from nowhere, before the listener is plunged into a prog assault, followed by a waltz-like section.
The album includes several short interludes; “Autumn”, a spacey, electronic track, “Parallax”, featuring heavily echoed guitars and spoken word, and “The Black Box”, which begins with a piano introduction before building into ominous orchestral sounds, with Ghost-style layered vocals.
Another highlight track is “Telos”, which begins with a fast riff and angry vocals in a huge contrast to previous track “The Black Box”. The middle of the track cuts out into a synth riff which leads into a jazz fusion interlude accompanied by spacey synthesizers- before in true BTBAM style, suddenly returning to technical death metal, where the track then remains until its close.
Album closer “Goodbye to Everything Reprise” takes the listener back to the Dream Theater-style sound of the opening track, featuring John Petrucci-style solo-ing. The track repeats the chord progression from the album opener, but with a more echoed, space-like sound.
Throughout “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”, the unexpectedness of changes in time signatures and genres, along with the clever use of a variety of instruments and synths blend masterfully to create an Between the Buried and Me can be proud of, and also one which shows both maturity and progression from their earlier releases; all while still maintaining the band’s signature sound.
8 out of 10
1. “Goodbye to Everything”
2. “Astral Body”
3. “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest”
5. “Extremophile Elite”
7. “The Black Box”
10. “Melting City”
11. “Silent Flight Parliament”
12. “Goodbye to Everything Reprise”