Between the Buried and Me: Parallax II: Future Sequence
The seeming importance of our individual lives often takes precedence over the existential quandaries that affect humanity as a whole. We are narcissistic beings through and throughout, seeking attention at any opportunity. Even in the face of death we will often wonder selfishly about our posthumous fate. With its newest release, Between the Buried and Me explore the unleashed ego beyond the physical realm and its reaction to the humanity it has left behind.
Epic is thrown around a lot when describing high-concept progressive rock and metal, but the term is nothing if not appropriate. The Parallax concept, beginning with 2011’s Hypersleep Dialogues, is epic from start to finish and leaves few progressive milestones unturned in its concluding volume, Future Sequence. This album blisters with intense, virtuosic creativity and presents an immersing story of cosmic observation and terrestrial repercussion.
The record follows the streaming consciousness of the recently deceased, whose newly formed celestial persona must come to grips with its death and ascent into a higher existence. The opening movement of the record follows the aforementioned unleashed ego in its most confused and primal state, wandering the cosmos in search of answers. Was the past life real? Did it mean anything? What does the future hold? The dichotomy of a self-impressed cosmic being is compelling as a narrative viewpoint, and lyrically carries the album to great heights.
The struggling musings of a mind beyond death culminate in the album’s centerpiece movement comprising the tracks “Parallax”, “Black Box”, and “Telos”. This section features the rebirth of the ego into something greater than its original, almost infantile summations. From here the album fans out into the awesome, psychedelic trip of “Bloom”. Certainly the most bizarre track on the album, “Bloom” serves as the launching point for a new narrative of choice and consequence. There’s a great rockabilly inspired section in the center of this song that makes a serious impression.
The final three tracks of the record, “Melting City”, “Silent Flight Parliament” and “Goodbye to Everything Reprise” are masterstrokes of scope and mood. Here the group takes a tighter, more psychedelic turn, unveiling the ultimate conflict for the reborn consciousness (similar to 2001’s Starchild) as the fate of mankind. For their corruption and impunity, humanity faces destruction in the form of a collision with the sun. The final minutes of this record are solemn, heartbreaking, and powerful. In a time when all the world seems to be on the brink of civil unrest and economic collapse, the idea that it could all be burned away with a single decision brings a fresh perspective to life and its majestic fragility.
From a musical standpoint, the album is certainly worthy of Between the Buried and Me’s past accomplishments, and lifts them up alongside such great progressive bands as Emerson Lake and Palmer, Opeth, Yes, Gojira, and Rush. At every turn this record leads you down a different path: harsh, omnipotent vocals atop crushing riffs shift instantly into cruising, harmonious progressions that permit a cleaner voice to provide more narrative. The balance between the two vocal styles is staggering and makes the album a good listen for those who might prefer one to the other.
From a rhythmic standpoint the album seems to move effortlessly from the jarring impermanence of prog metal to the cool, jazzy styles of prog rock and everywhere in between. Some of the real charm comes from the cinematic flair that is thrown into the mix. A few of these moments resemble Danny Elfman‘s Batman scores while others provide a shambling gypsy style that expose yet another facet of this group’s already extensive musical diversity.
From its inquisitive, child-like opening through the chaotic ramblings of its interiors to the immense, sobering remorse of its conclusion, Future Sequence is a masterpiece of creative solidarity.
MP3: Between the Buried and Me “Telos”