The collision of punk, hardcore, and extreme metal has sent factions splintering in every direction — the epic Christian metalcore of Underoath, the thundering prog-throb of Mastodon, the intricate math-metal of Isis, the chest-caving experi-metal of OM, to name a few. Hot on the heels of such signature acts are North Carolina quintet Between the Buried & Me whose latest release, Colors, covers a gamut of styles in loose-limbed, “kitchen sink” arrangements of rare cohesiveness.
In fact, the whole album flows like a movie soundtrack following an indefinable yet apparent logic, from the ominous clanging Middle-Eastern-hued metal of “Informal Gluttony” to the barroom, honky-tonk country near the end of “Ants in the Sky” to the atmospheric, ambient track “Viridian.” Colors’ tight-knit tapestry was the intention when they recorded the album, according to frontman Tommy Rogers.
“In the past we’ve always kind of written songs and figured out the order in the studio, like most bands,” says Rogers, vacationing with his girlfriend in Louisiana prior to the group’s tour. “But we just wanted to create something special, something that felt like one piece of music rather than random tracks on a disc.”
Reminiscent of Dillinger Escape Plan — whom Buried count as friends — songs undergo rapid shifts in tempo and tone. One such song, “Sun of Nothing,” switches seamlessly from crushing prog-tinged death metal to spacey Floyd-tinged psych-rock with King Crimson overtones to bright ’70s soft rock and distortion-drenched Britpop. It’s like “Bohemian Rhapsody” for metalcore kids, yet it came together very naturally.
“It seems like so much planning should go into this record because of how it turned out, but it was probably the most organic writing process we’ve ever had,” Rogers says. Nonetheless, the songs underwent extensive “nitpicking,” as all five members take an active part in songwriting. They honed Colors in extensive pre-production like a Broadway show, rehearsing until everything sounded perfect. “Obviously there was so much going on that we wanted to make sure that it felt comfortable to the listener, that nothing really felt awkward, and you would listen to this record and never get bored. “
The band’s legacy dates back to the late-’90s, when Rogers and guitarist Paul Waggoner played in Raleigh thrash-metal group Prayer for Cleansing, and from the beginning BTBAM was looking to explode expectations.
“The main goal was to start a metal band that didn’t have boundaries. We wanted to have a band where we could progress as people and musicians and not be afraid to try new things with our career down the line,” Rogers says. “A lot of metal bands release the same records, kind of regurgitate music they’ve already written. The big thing for us is to try to create a unique record each time, but still have that similar sound.”
The band underwent a number of lineup changes over the course of their eponymous debut though the 2002 followup, The Silent Circus. It wasn’t until their third album, Alaska, that they settled on their current roster and began to gel as a group.
“That comfort zone wasn’t quite there yet. I think Alaska came together well, but you know, with this record we completely know how we all write and we all react as people,” Rogers says. “The comfort zone was just way higher and it made it a lot easier to write. I think that had something to do with everything being so smooth and organic.”
Another influence on the new album’s sound was last year’s covers album, The Anatomy of. Its eclectic range of source material — including Pantera, Faith No More, Queen, King Crimson, Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, Motley Crue, Counting Crows and Blind Melon — offers a hint of the band’s broad range, and it primed the pump for the new album.
“It really got our creative juices flowing, and it got us really excited about being in the studio again. I remember when we finished we were so excited about writing and trying new things,” says Rogers. “There’s a whole lot more heavy rock influence on Colors and definitely more prog-rock influence; that was a big theme on Anatomy, so I definitely can see the relation of the two.”
He jokingly admits that his generation’s ADD may have been responsible for BTBAM being the band that they are, but he points to several other acts as evidence of a change in music itself, citing Girl Talk and Gnarls Barkley.
“I think people are just getting bored, and it’s cool to see. Like Gnarls Barkley, it was one of the biggest records last year, but it’s a very weird record. There’s soul music, hip-hop, all different kinds of things going on there. It’s not just the same thing.
“There’s so much music out there, and with the development of iTunes and just how big the Internet has gotten, it’s exposed people to so many different kinds of music.”
Just call it the musical melting pot and know it’s getting harder to keep your portions from blending together. •
Between the Buried and Me
w. HORSE the Band, Animosity, The End, & Scale the Summit
8 pm Sun, Oct 7
2410 N. St. Mary’s