2015’s Coma Ecliptic was a fantastic album, finishing very high at the top of many end of the year lists (including my own) and showing growth and maturity in Between the Buried and Me’s sound. Gone were the hyper-aggressive and chaotic sounds of their early albums like Alaska, replaced entirely with their new-age take on prog. Still heavy, still zany in a way that only BTBAM can be, but much more delicate and subdued. I don’t mean that in a bad way (it really is a fantastic record), but there was always a part of me that longed for the band’s older sound. While Coma Ecliptic was great, it could never quite reach the heights that Alaska and Colors did.
So many metal bands are stepping away from their heavier roots and embracing a more melodic sound (Gojira, Mastodon and Opeth are some of the bigger success stories in this regard), and after Coma Ecliptic it looked like BTBAM was heading that way as well. There were several articles written during the lead up to Coma Ecliptic about how the band wrote more naturally to clean vocals and melody. But after a whirlwind couple of days for BTBAM news, I’m starting to think that trend may be over with.
Fresh on the heels of announcing Part I of Automata, a planned double album set for this year, and a headlining tour with The Dear Hunter & Leprous, the band released the first single (and opening track) from the new record, “Condemned to the Gallows”. Granted we are only 3 weeks into the new year, but the track has sprinted to the forefront of my favorite tracks of 2018.
While there are still weird, ethereal proggy moments (this is BTBAM, after all), the song is the heaviest that I’ve heard the band sound in a long, long time. It left me wondering if last year’s tour playing Colors in its entirety had anything to do with the sound of the new record, as this song is a throwback to their older works. I can only hope that this is just a taste of things to come.