A staple in the make up Prog’s DNA. The concept album is an artists secret weapon. Based upon creating not only a narrative but a universe in itself. Distilled until the time is right to bring reality crashing down and escape once again through another listen. Beginning as an almost hardcore act, Between The Buried And Me have had a natural growth. Slowly maturing from the all out assault that was The Silent Circus, creating more thought provoking albums with each release and it was all leading up to their finest hour, Coma Ecliptic.
2. The Coma Machine
3. Dim Ignition
4. Famine Wolf
5. King Redeem, Queen Serene
6. Turn On The Darkness
7. The Ectopic Stroll
8. Rapid Calm
9. Memory Palace
10. Option Oblivion
11. Life In Velvet
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: July 10th
Instead of deciding to decode each individual song on Coma Ecliptic, I will instead decide to give you all a snapshot of what the universe is like in this new era of Between The Buried And Me. A fitting blurb for the entire album, “The Coma Machine” is a fantastic invitation into this wonderful, weird, beautiful, ugly, unique tale.
Like the beginning of the record, the song begins with a child like sense of wonder, we’re birthed into a fantastic world where reality is left behind. Where time is at once existent yet not measurable. The air is pregnant with anticipation, not long before our initial excitement is moulded into a sense of unease indicating that perhaps this naivety is misplaced and actually there are darker forces at work here… Manoeuvring our way through Wagonner’s meandering lead lines a metaphor for our heroes hardships he faces later on during the listen.
Borrowing vocals from Queen we see the arrival of the songs chorus, similar to the mid section of the album a strong set up with vocal hooks attaching themselves to your psyche. Right before being dispelled into the stasis sequence of the bridge, where we see Brigg’s bass guitar flourish working perfectly with the off beat times of Blake. Like an onion, there are an innumerable amount of layers to Coma Ecliptic. Ensuring that though the ride might be long, it’s every bit as wonderous as that first listen. Until the final smack down, the Deus ex machina of the album is revealed, when the revelation is unveiled. The veil is liften and our protagonist understands what he must do…
The exact definition I will leave to you, I don’t want to ruin the story! The urgency of decision making becomes paramount. Instruments coalesce, excitement is built up through the chorus of piano’s, guitars, vocals, drums, bass and effects coming together until a fantastic climax. An uproarious chorus where we see our excitement peak, before returning back to its roots. A coda to the album if you like, bookending the universe in a beautifully Twilight Zone-esque bow.
Although I have only described one song, this is the formula that Between The Buried And Me adopt. With the concept being of paramount importance to truly engage with the album, we see a plethora of influences each exhibited on their respective tracks from the Tangerine Dream like “Dim Ignition” the blackened samba of “Turn On The Darkness” featuring a beautiful solo to the limbo like “Rapid Calm” where our hero almost travels to the other side, a truly spooky highlight. The album is peppered with classic 70’s Sci-Fi nods that simply embellish the overall experience creating an even more tangible listen. Even the circus waltz of “The Ectopic Stroll“. Culminating in a climax of “Memory Palace” where our hero truly understands and is resolute to “Option Oblivion“. Even the dark bite of “Famine Wolf” is just every bit as brilliant, if anything merely improving with repeated listens. Fluidly moving us the listener forward and not looking back, like our unnamed patient. Before the understanding final exit that is denoument “Life In Velvet” a fitting eulogy to the album.
I could very easily list all the genres that span throughout the record, but that would be cheating you, the listener, out. What makes the album truly unlike anything else is the quality of musicianship, song writing, story and most importantly pace, an oft forgotten pitfall of the concept album are all exceptional. It’s also worth mentioning there are no stand out elements of show man ship the lime light is instead shone on the band themselves.
Quite like nothing you will have heard, Coma Ecliptic is not only just an album but it’s own universe. Able to mould itself around the listener. In an age that is continuously being updated with steaming and the like the bands new record goes back to the classic sense of sitting down and truly LISTENING to an album. Regardless of your surroundings, from its inception until it’s resolute end the album entrances your ears and engages all the senses. With an incredibly strong concept, faultless musicianship combining together to create one of the most interesting listens of the last ten years. Coma Ecliptic is what the band have always been striving to create. Phenomenal.