Home Music Between the Buried and Me: Colors (Remix/Remaster)

Between the Buried and Me: Colors (Remix/Remaster)

While a band like Between the Buried and Me will have factions of its fan base debating which record really takes the gold, the importance of Colors isn’t a matter of personal taste. It has aged gracefully over the past 13 years as the moment these guys crossed the divide between progressive metal and high art. Its illustrious concept and musical ambition graced metalheads and ‘core kids with an album they could successfully get their music teachers to appreciate. Packed with countless iconic moments, Colors stands to this day as one of prog-metal’s crowning achievements… so of course it would eventually get the remix/remaster treatment.

In fact, the excitement of a remix/remaster of Colors comes from the possibility of fixing its glaring shortcoming—the production value. For all its incredible artistry, this thing’s lack of beef is quite noticeable within the metal ecosystem. Granted, it’s very hard to balance heaviness with clarity within such a technical, precision-based framework, but all it takes is a quick comparison between the new and old “(B) The Decade of Statues” to see how much the added heft was needed. Listen to the track’s opening blast-beating explosion and the bludgeoning breakdown that follows, and it’s undeniable that the low-end impact is so much more satisfying.

In addition to the more pronounced tonality and reverb found in Blake Richardson’s drums, similar to the re-release of Alaska and Silent Circus, the album’s bigger and more clear sound works to the Colors’ favor. The difference might not be so noticeable on the lone piano and voice intro of “Foam Born (A) The Backtrack,” but it takes the subsequent dynamic geyser to an entirely new level. The keyboard arpeggios have much more room to breathe in the 6/8 groove, as do the guitars in the wall-of-sound blast-beat outro.

It’s not easy to listen to just one song from Colors, but it’s impossible to separate the concluding duo of “Viridian” and “White Walls.” The 17-minute behemoth is a fitting climax for a standard-setting album, and offers key points that especially benefit from the remaster/remix. The jazzy mood music of “Viridian” gets a more textured ambiance; a firmer foundation for the nuanced soloing of bassist Dan Briggs and guitarist Paul Waggoner.

In a similar way, the multi-faceted onslaught of “White Walls” has never sounded better. It genuinely feels like listening to the song’s myriad of twists and turns with a fresh set of ears. The mosh parts hit harder and the techy-parts sound more clean. The real kicker becomes the melodious math-rock detour and tension filled crescendo to the end of the album. From the legendary “White Walls” breakdown to the full-circle piano outro, it’s just BTBAM at their finest.

It’s worth reiterating for any newcomers: one does not simply listen to a song from Colors. No, not even the album’s more single-ish “Prequel to the Sequel.” It’s definitely the most straightforward song on the record, coming off like a metalcore take on Dream Theater. The dexterous shredding over chunky breakdowns and Tommy Rogers’ feral growls recalls earlier BTBAM albums, but the songwriting is simply on another level. The band can’t help but throw some outlandish curveball, be it the French folk of “Prequel” or the jungle field recordings and tribal drums that bookend “Informal Gluttony.”

Colors remains the point BTBAM stopped caring about who they might alienate as they threw everything and the kitchen sink into their vision. The difference is how tasteful and authentic it all sounds. “Informal Gluttony” doesn’t sound gimmicky with the entrance of hand percussion and chanting. Nor does it conflict with the angular tech-metal and atmospheric falsetto-driven chorus. The amount of directions this album goes in is mind-boggling enough, but its staying power comes from how well it all fits together.

Specifying the meat of this album becomes difficult, since it’s all essential listening, but “Sun of Nothing” and “Ants of the Sky” can’t even be rightly called deep cuts. Both songs have some of the most electrifying intros of loud guitar music in general, between the former’s nasty drum fill and the latter’s sweeping guitar solo. The band just never loses gas, constantly finding new ways to maintain their grip on the listener. Whether it’s the chilling melancholy refrain of “Sun of Nothing,” or the inexplicable country western portion found in “Ants of the Sky,” it sometimes becomes hard to believe that this band started in the straight-edge hardcore scene. Still, the inevitable returns to jagged riffage remain just as satisfying.

A book could be written about the intricacies of Colors; this remix/remaster essentially took perfection and made it better. Everyone was willing to overlook the production issues on the original album because the music was that good, but it’s hard to pinpoint a reason beyond nostalgia to go back to it now that the 2020 version is here. It brings a robust sense of size and cleanliness to the already overwhelming scope of Colors, and for that alone it’s a great achievement.

A book could be written about the intricacies of Colors; this remix/remaster essentially took perfection and made it better.
88 %
Prog-core Transcendence
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