Between the Buried and Me - Automata II

Between the Buried and Me

Automata II

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For the past 18 years, Between the Buried and Me have been cranking out their own unique brand of progressive metal. Though band members have changed many times since the band's inception, their sound has kept an edge in the metal world.

Wildly talented, BTBAM feature crushing metal guitar riffs, emotionally inspiring guitar leads, vocals ranging from growling to soaring, and incomprehensibly technical drum rhythms. The band's influences are easily heard, but not easily named. Probably because the North Carolina based band has found their sound over nearly two decades and it works well for them. Automata II is their ninth studio album and is the second part to Automata I.  

Automata II combines both soft and hard elements, seemingly to give their sound range, balance, and listenability, while staying what they are: metal. The first track, "The Proverbial Bellow" begins with interesting and enjoyable lead guitar lines that stop only for a few moments to give the keyboardist some playing time. After three minutes, the vocals come in, but don't go hard right away, providing a pleasant contrast between soft and hard as the song progresses.

Tommy Giles Rogers Jr. and Paul Waggoner's vocals anchor "The Proverbial Bellow", both sounding extremely natural in their transitions from singing to screaming. Most of the song has seriously juicy lead guitar lines going through it, which is what really gives the song its power. These riffs keep it interesting in the otherwise unimportant sections. At just over 13 minutes long, the band manages to keep it compelling without losing steam, an impressive accomplishment considering the length of the song.

"Glide" begins with a solo accordion and transitions into piano, which no one would expect from any metal band other than Between the Buried and Me. It's the shortest song on the album and unfortunately, with the exception of providing stylistic contrast, doesn't really add anything important to the album. 

"Voice Of Trespass" is basically the sound of a metal band playing swing jazz...and it works magnificently. It easily takes the spot as the most interesting track on the album. Rhythm guitars, bass, vocals, and drums all take the cake when it comes to a swing/jazz feel. The vocalists even scat at 2:25, "a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one" to quote an unpopular Star Wars movie. The guitars and bass take some brief solos which lock in the jazz sound of the track, but the most noticeable and catchy aspects of this song are the distorted rhythm guitars playing the main riff that the song starts with.

It isn't all swing and jazz though. At 3:50 the style shifts to the familiar metal feel and sounds like something anyone would want to mosh to. A very Lamb Of God-esque breakdown begins and carries the song to more clean vocals and a guitar solo. While this song section sounds great, the feeling that the song is stretching beyond what will keep the average listener's attention is pretty apparent. 

"The Grid" is the best example of BTBAM's signature sound, but keeps in line with the style of the album minus a few surprises. Lyrical (and sometimes pleasantly harmonized) guitar leads, soaring clean vocals, crushing screams (which unfortunately don't take up very much of the song) and punchy drumming. The heavy sections of the song distract momentarily from the over-repeated main theme and provide much-needed contrast in the song. The song ends with an acoustic guitar riff and a thought-provoking guitar solo which brings the album to a satisfying close.

Overall, Automata II, while not very groundbreaking, is still an enjoyable listen and a great addition to any music collection. Who would expect an album that makes one want to both snap their fingers in one section and then mosh in another section of the same track?