Between the Buried and Me

Between the Buried and Me

What if dreams could be broadcast for the purpose of entertainment? Could you consume the innermost thoughts of another person on screen? If you could, what does that say about an attention-starved audience? More importantly, what would become of the dreamer?
Between The Buried and Me pose those questions and more on their two-part eighth full-length and introductory offering for Sumerian Records, Automata. The North Carolina quintet—Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. [lead vocals, keyboards], Paul Waggoner [lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals], Dustie Waring [rhythm and lead guitar], Blake Richardson [drums], and Dan Briggs [bass, keyboards]—explore these themes by personally smashing boundaries once again. Automata marks the band’s first proper double LP-spanning concept. It sees them venture into new territory with visual accompaniment for the entire body of work. Moreover, they continue to expand their ever-evolving style, upholding a tradition of progression in the process.
“We never want to repeat ourselves,” affirms Paul. “We’re always trying to do something different, and this album fell right into that sort of pattern. We push ourselves into new places, while retaining our basic sound. Musically, we go somewhere that’s fun and challenging. We never know how it’s going to turn out. These are uncharted waters for us. We’ve never taken on a visual capacity of this magnitude. We’ve never written an entire piece and presented it in separate parts like this.”
Tommy agrees, “This many years into our career, we want to continue doing things differently.”
This approach cemented the group as progressive music’s most unpredictable outlier since its formation in 2000. Among many milestones, they released 2007’s watershed Colors followed by The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP in 2011 and The Parallax II: Future Sequence a year later. 2015 saw Coma Ecliptic elevate them to new heights yet again. Not only did it bow at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 (a career high for the band), but it also garnered widespread acclaim from Noisey, Revolver, Alternative Press, and The Guardian who welcomed the album with a rare perfect score. In between, they launched countless sold out headline tours and support runs with the likes of Mastodon.
Now, they break more ground with Automata.
“Lyrically, I wanted to write something that I treated as a puzzle until it comes together at the end,” continues Tommy. “For as deep and dark as it is, there’s a positive outcome, which we’ve never had. The story follow a protagonist whose dreams are used as entertainment broadcasted by a company called Voice of Trespass. Most of the record takes place within that dream. The character thinks it’s all real.”
“Even though it takes place in the future, there are a lot of parallels to modern society,” adds Paul. “Oftentimes, we turn athletes, movie stars, and musicians into commodities. We forget that they’re real people with problems and issues. They’re society’s escape from reality as we use them for entertainment. Hence, society plays a role in their downfall, be it drug dependence, isolation, or even suicide. Society perpetuates mental illness with those expectations.”
Automata – Part I unveils the first six songs comprising the entire body of work. Stretching near seven minutes, “Condemned to the Gallows” kicks off this journey. Acoustic guitar builds in epic fashion before sweeping distortion takes hold followed by unpredictable rhythms and a seismic vocal performance which, as Tommy puts it, “sets up the whole story.”
Elsewhere, the trudging eight-minute guitar symphony of “Yellow Eyes” spirals into the melodic bliss of “Millions.”
“There are a lot of moments where we totally venture away from the traditional formula of what a progressive metal band can do,” states Dan. “There are all these little moments where we’ve done something we never did before. ‘Millions’ is the perfect example. It’s four-minutes of straight melody—another first.”
With Automata Part I, Part II, and the myriad of visuals on the horizon, Between The Buried And Me realize their potential to its fullest—and go one step further.
“All of our music should build up to the newest record,” Tommy leaves off. “That’s what happens with Automata. You can take little snippets from our past throughout this album. It sounds like Between The Buried And Me, but it’s still new. We hope to keep the music industry on its toes. This is part of doing that.”

The Contortionist

Warped time signatures, percussive mathematics, spider-fingered fretwork, dazzlingly atmospheric keyboards and immediately arresting vocals collide within THE CONTORTIONIST, who have achieved a career defining milestone with a "sophomore slump" defying feat of agility dubbed Intrinsic. The Indiana based prog-metal alchemists conjure the kinetic texture of RUSH, the cinematic musicality of DREAM THEATER, the heavy but heady metallic might of jazzy death wizards CYNIC and the studied experimental precision of BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME while simultaneously fashioning an overall sound uniquely their own.
In a short amount of time, THE CONTORTIONIST has enveloped audiences and nearly swallowed them whole. They've toured with a wide-ranging number of acts including PERIPHERY, ALL SHALL PERISH and THE ACACIA STRAIN. The band headlined the inaugural edition of the Summer Slaughter Survivors Tour, as well.

With their earliest self-released work, THE CONTORTIONIST remade the rules within emerging genres like "deathcore" and "djent" as they evolved beyond scenes and categories, even as they were integral enough to be instrumental in defining them. The band teamed with Ken Susi of UNEARTH for their marvelously refreshing, conceptually driven debut, Exoplanet. With album number two, THE CONTORTIONIST entrusted Eyal Levi (DAATH, JOB FOR A COWBOY) and Jason Suecof (TRIVIUM, DEVILDRIVER) to help them capture their at once complex yet defiantly easy-to-connect-with esoteric material, which shatters the boundaries of conventional heavy music note-by-virtuosic-note.

In popular culture we often hear space referred to as "The Final Frontier." And while it's true that the vast majority of our universe remains unknown and deserving of further study, much of the inner workings of human beings beg further contemplation and discovery. How wonderfully appropriate, then, that having delved into deep space with their expansive sound and contemplative narrative on the genre-challenging and wholly impressive Exoplanet, THE CONTORTIONIST turns inward with the stunningly mind-bending follow-up, Intrinsic.

Whereas the first album explored the idea of earth's destruction following the inevitable collapse of our star and the ensuing search for an inhabitable planet to call home, Intrinsic dives deep inside the mind. Moving across several operatic sections, the record transports listeners on a journey through the apparent holographic reality we call "experience," through our very consciousness and metaphysical archetypes. Toward the album's conclusion the band ultimately imagines advancements in neuroscience that would broaden and challenge who we are. All of the music, of course, captures these themes.

Canadian thrash architects VOIVOD would surely be proud of the band's science based subjects. Like IRON MAIDEN before them, THE CONTORTIONIST is the kind of band that can be enjoyed for the basest of reasons but can also send astute listeners running to the library, like all of the generations of people who wanted to read more about the origins of "The Flight of Icarus" or "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
Lyrical inspiration and reference points came from a stack of research, which included books like Antonio Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness and Simon Young's Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto. Immediate standout cuts "Holomovement," "Causality" (about a person having a near death experience brought on by an obsession with lucidity in dreaming and astral movement) and "Dreaming Schematics" (where scientific minds develop procedures to strengthen and multiply synaptic networks) are epics. These songs and the rest of the album's material inspire food for thought and aesthetic pleasure in equal measure.

THE CONTORTIONIST continues to be a study in contrast. In their quietest, most ambient moments, the band is intimately melodic. Alternately their heavy parts are as alarmingly bombastic as possible. An emphasis on songwriting and structure has resulted in a series of musical journeys that are constantly climbing new summits. There is only one song on the album with anything like a "repeating chorus."

At the same time, the band is always ever careful to tastefully balance technique with purpose. They aren't shredding for shredding's sake. Each section of every song is rooted in logic, meaning and reason.
THE CONTORTIONIST has succeeded at creating intelligently tasteful metal that is as memorable and melodic as it is creative and dynamic. Within their formula, a listener paying close attention is as likely to discover elements akin to MINUS THE BEAR as MESHUGGAH.

Just as different genre-pushing bands broadened their own minds, the men in THE CONTORTIONIST are happy to lead fans through the gateway of heavy music down pathways of new music and self-discovery. With fervent attention to every detail of their composition and presentation, the band's future in the pantheon of heavy music is assured. Intrinsic is the next step in what will become a landmark catalog. THE CONTORTIONIST opens minds from within and without.

Nick Johnston

From humble beginnings as a small town teenager, hell-bent on mastering the guitar, to one of the worlds premiere virtuoso guitar players, Nick Johnston’s journey has been a wild and fulfilling one. With five studio albums, countless tours and clinics around the world, a signature guitar series with Schecter, and acclamations from just about every legendary guitar player on the planet, Nick Johnston has shown what practice, persistence, and a unique viewpoint can accomplish.

Nicks sound and approach to the guitar are highly unique, born of a love for everything from the blues to classic sci-fi scores, and an unabiding penchant for storytelling. His songs, though instrumental, paint vivid and telling pictures. From an intimate moment, to a vast and timeless narrative, his music conveys a larger story than most instrumental music is capable of.

2019 sees the release of Nick’s fifth studio album, “Wide Eyes In The Dark”. An instrumental prog rock epic that journeys through a grand spectrum of human experience. With this release, Nick accomplishes the complex and grandiose nature of progressive rock, while avoiding the heavy-handedness and over-playing that often comes with the classification. This album is the product of two years spent writing, refining and recording the songs, all the while traveling the world and experiencing life as a solo musician. The music takes a tone both more dramatic and mature than Nicks previous records, exploring more dark and ominous themes than ever, as well as lighter ideas that are severe in their earnestness and optimism.

Each of Nick’s records is brought to life by a cast of world-class musicians, and “Wide Eyes In The Dark” is no exception. This record's line up features; Benny Greb on drums, Kevin Scott on bass, and The Contortionist’s Eric Guenther, who played an immense roll on this album both as keyboardist, and as Nick’s closest collaborator to date. This ensemble work in tandem with Nick to make “Wide Eyes In The Dark” a new benchmark for what progressive instrumental music can accomplish.

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