Between The Buried And Me

Grandiose, dynamic, heavy, melodic, technically challenging: these are all words that fall equally short when trying to describe Between the Buried and Me's sonic offerings. When tasked with explaining the band's previous effort, The Parallax II: Future Sequence, Decibel Magazine claimed that the album "offers more substance than most bands put forth in entire careers" and Metal Hammer simply stated that it was "utterly captivating." Where does a burgeoning progressive act go from there? The answer is found in their seventh full-length album, Coma Ecliptic. Spanning just over an hour, the album stands as a significant step in the evolution for the group as a whole, as well as the individual musicians: vocalist / keyboardist Tommy Rogers, guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring, bassist Dan Briggs, and drummer Blake Richardson.

Tommy Rogers posits: "Coma Ecliptic is a new life for BTBAM. Throughout the process we worked harder than we ever have and really pushed the BTBAM sound to a new identity. In a world of repetition, I'm very proud to be a part of something that is extremely rewarding, as well as frightening. When you don't push yourself you will never know what the outcome is. The outcome is Coma Ecliptic."

What is Coma Ecliptic? It can be interpreted as a modern rock opera, and another ambitious concept album from a band that has completely mastered that format. Dan Briggs comments: "Spending the last year immersed in a world of Quadrophenia, Operation Mindcrime, The Wall- as well as Sondheim and Lloyd Webber musicals, Stravinsky and Mussorgsky symphonic suites; writing an over the top, dramatic and forward thinking rock opera was the most natural thing to do." The story follows the wanderings of an unidentified man, stuck in a coma, as he journeys through his past lives. Each song is its own episode in a modern day, sort of The Twilight Zone-esque fashion. The unidentified man enters each world and is offered a choice: stay, or move on to the next in search of something better, something more "perfect." The man does find his ideal life, but then is offered the ultimate choice of life or death. He chooses life and wakes up to his own actual reality. It's at that moment he realizes that he had been in a coma - everything that happened had been dreams and false memories. After awakening, we find the man outside finally experiencing reality, and he sees what he has been missing: the world is beautiful, the air is fresh, and the people appear to be happy, and then he falls over dead. The take away from this is to make the best of your life. People are constantly searching for something better without taking the time to appreciate the things they have. What we need may already be here, and is hopefully real. We may all be in a coma in another life.

Musically, Coma Ecliptic boasts a series of emotive peaks and valleys that drive the narrative along with the lyrics. Tracks such as "Memory Palace", while sounding wholly unique, clearly have a distinct BTBAM flavor to which fans have grown so attached. "The Coma Machine" brings to mind prog in the most classic sense; think YES and King Crimson passages with the added layer of modern metal heaviness. "Dim Ignition" highlights Rogers' continuing development as a keyboardist, but don't fret, there's still plenty of speed, technically challenging guitar, bass, and drum runs, and quirkiness throughout. What makes these parts work is the interplay of the heavy and technical with the simpler, almost cinematic, soft passages; that is the power of Coma Ecliptic. The listening experience is a journey, and when "Life in Velvet" brings the album to a sudden, triumphant end, fans will surely be reaching for the replay button. But what does the band think? Rogers adds: "If you asked me what this record sounds like, I would tell you BTBAM. With every listen I still find new exciting moments that each member has put into these songs. After all these years we still push each other to try new things and push our individual skills to the next level. It is an absolute thrill to write with such an inspiring group of people." Briggs continues: "Writing with a focus on storytelling and just crushing melodic themes set the tone early on before we were even in the rehearsal room together. Put your velvet capes on and get ready for a journey!"

Coma Ecliptic was recorded in January and February of 2015 with longtime Between the Buried and Me producer Jamie King at the Basement Recordings in North Carolina. Drums and piano were recorded with King and Kris Hilbert at the Fidelitorium. Final mixing and mastering was placed in the capable hands of Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend) at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden.

Between the Buried and Me began their journey in the year 2000 in North Carolina. Over the past 15 years, they have released seven full-length albums, an EP, a live album, a covers album, and a blu-ray/DVD. Their current lineup has been consistent since 2005, and they have taken full advantage of a stable and productive group of musicians. Each of their albums since that year have debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart: Alaska (2005) at #121, The Anatomy Of (2006) at #151, Colors (2007) at #57, The Great Misdirect (2009) at #36, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP (2011) at #54, and The Parallax: Future Sequence (2012) at #22. Additionally, the band's first-ever Blu-ray release, Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Music Video Charts, impressively ahead of video releases from progressive legends Dream Theater and YES. Consistency and growth in an epoch of shrinking music sales is indicative of the supreme impact the band has had across the heavy and progressive music landscapes.

The Faceless

The Faceless are a technical metal band from the Los Angeles area who have formed to astonish their live audiences with dizzying guitar work, lightning fast drumming and unmatched brutality. Formed by guitarist Michael Keene and bassist Brandon Giffin, the band quickly found the perfect mix of dedicated musicians to complete the line up.

Drummer Brett Batdorf having played a brief stint with Himsa and long time drummer of the acclaimed Los Angeles death metal band Tchildres complimented the group perfectly and was added to the line up soon after. The combination of blistering guitar work, complex and fast-paced rhythms, offset by haunting keyboards and brutal vocals from singer Jeff Ventimiglia set The Faceless in a class with the metal legends who have come before to change metal forever. The Faceless have developed a large following from their dead accurate live performance and the online success of 3 songs recorded and produced by guitarist Michael Keene. The band has already become a buzz in the metal scene drawing up to 300 kids at local shows. The Faceless is quickly rising to the top in a sea of mediocrity to claim their place in metal virtuosity.

In the past year The Faceless have been lucky enough to share the stage with such talented acts as: Cephalic Carnage, Vital Remains, Impaled, Through the Eyes of the Dead, Animosity, Ed Gein, The Number 12 Looks Like You, Into The Moat, Reflux, On Broken Wings, From A Second Story Window, Ion Dissonance, Crematorium, Phobia, Light This City, Neuraxis, Job For A Cowboy, Intronaut, Anal blast, All Shall Perish, Winter Solstice, Radiation 4, The Red Death, Embrace The End, Psyopus, Deadsoil, Glass Casket, and many others.

The Contortionist

The Contortionist represents fearlessness in musical expression, designed to please artist as much as audience. This band makes progressive metal music, anchored in the heavy sounds that first drew the individual players to the stage, yet unmoored by convention or expectation.

On Clairvoyant, the band’s distinctive fingerprints remain, even as their atmospheric flourishes broaden to encompass ever-richer textures and mine the beauty of simplicity.

For the entirety of their career, The Contortionist has proven capable of being been equally at home on tour with Deftones, Periphery, or Between The Buried And Me, thanks to their dynamic combination of metal’s blunt precision with the adventurous spirit of prog-rock heroes like Rush and King Crimson. The Contortionist integrates seemingly disparate worlds to create their own sound, with a focus on tone, vibe, color, and atmosphere.

The band’s first two records, Exoplanet (2010) and Intrinsic (2012), are monstrously heavy,though no less ambitious than their newer and more expansive creative declarations. The character of The Contortionist’s sound expanded greatly with Language, the 2014 monolithic album that introduced the band’s current lineup of vocalist Michael Lessard, keyboardist Eric Guenther, and bassist Jordan Eberhardt alongside co-founding members Cameron Maynard (guitar) and brothers Robby Baca (guitar) and Joey Baca (drums). In it’s 5/5 review, Substream praised the album as being akin to “a journey through a dream state.” Prog Metal Zone was similarly kind, awarding the album 10/10 and remarking on its propulsive drum rhythms, ambient keyboards, fusion, and “astonishingly inventive flight(s) of musicality.”

Clairvoyant, which reunited the band with producer Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me, Through The Eyes Of The Dead), takes the best elements of The Contortionist’s past and reshapes them as the band follows their individual creative muses toward the future.

The Contortionist ultimately prove to have as much in common with the psychedelic experimentation of later Opeth or Tool and even the textured melodicism of Sigur Ros as they do technical heavy music, but they’ve never sacrificed urgent impact. Critics and fans admire their intelligent approach to the crushing riffs of tech-metal, which becomes more vibrant with elements of ambitious post rock and jazzy / fusion-infused virtuosity. Even when angular riffs, odd time signatures, and devastating breakdowns give way to hypnotic,ethereal, and trancelike musical meditations, The Contortionist are never lacking in total power.

In whatever The Contortionist endeavors to do, there will always be a great amount of thought, attention to detail, and shared love of musicality. They have committed to never surrender to the path of least resistance, always challenging themselves and their audience.

This is art for art’s sake. The Contortionist ease through the doors of perception with grace where possible and smash through the boundaries with absolute force when necessary.

The Safety Fire

Formed in London, The Safety Fire has always pushed the boundaries of technical, progressive metal since their inception. With their expansive atmospheres and soaring melodies, it's easy to see why vocalist Sean McWeeney, bassist Lori Peri, drummer Calvin Smith, and guitarists Derya Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles are now at the forefront of their ever-growing genre.

The Safety Fire first made a name for themselves in the UK scene with the release of their critically acclaimed EP "Sections" in 2009 and their reputation as a powerfully energetic live band. They have toured extensively across the UK with bands such as Rise To Remain, The Arusha Accord, Bleed From Within, and Xerath, as well as progressive metal titans Periphery and Monuments most recently throughout Europe. The Safety Fire also appeared at the renowned Sonisphere Festival in 2011 alongside Metallica, Slipknot, Mastodon, and The Mars Volta, proving to the metal community that they can hold their own amongst the likes of such music legends.

Their efforts have been recognised not only by their musical peers, but also by members of the press, who have hailed The Safety Fire as a fresh sound in their scene. When searching for a record label, it seemed only natural for these progressive newcomers to find their home with InsideOut Music. With a roster of artists that includes Devin Townsend, James Labrie, and King's X, The Safety Fire will gain recognition and exposure far beyond the dreams they had as childhood friends.

"We all grew up together and would head over to Calvin's place and jam in his living-room after school, practically learning our instruments along the way. It took a few years and few different bands before The Safety Fire became what it is today. To be able to release our music worldwide with a label like InsideOut Music is a dream come true. We are all massively excited and can't wait to get our music out there across the whole world!"

Mastered by Jens Bogren (well known for his work with such luminaries as Opeth, Katatonia, and Amon Amarth), the album was produced and mixed by guitarist Derya Nagle as part of his "BlackBear Productions" operation, through which he also produced up-and-coming bands such as Rise To Remain (EMI), The HAARP Machine (Sumerian), and Palehorse (Eyesofsound). With the imminent release of their debut single, "Huge Hammers", the band is ready to give the progressive world their first taste of what's to come from "Grind the Ocean" and The Safety Fire, so stay tuned!

The Enigma Code

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