JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

December 6, 2015
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Lewis Leveridge

Between the Buried and Me - Between The Buried And Me, Enslaved, Intronaut, Native Construct

Mathematics, Vikings And A Steel Breeze

On a fairly somber Sunday evening and with a small but enthusiastic audience, Between The Buried And Me, Enslaved, Intronaut and Native Construct delivered (4) different platforms under one umbrella: progressive metal. Proving once again to pigeonhole modern metal music is to dig one's own judgmental grave.

North Carolina's Between The Buried And Me could easily be seen as a more tuneful version of Mr. Bungle, a hodgepodge of time-elevated riffing, polymetric rhythms, coarse to crooning vocals and song lengths that might have you checking your watch. Amidst a circular lighting backdrop to add dynamics the band opened with "The Coma Machine" off of their latest album Coma Ecliptic, a musical stew that follows the ambitious bloodstream of bands like Zombi, Dream Theater and Queen with an odd mix of death metal.

Vocalist Tom Rogers fluidly moves between that of a torch singer and Barney Greenway (of Napalm Death) while BTBAM provide an immense sound behind him sounding like a landslide, tumbling, gaining speed, slowing down and finally collapsing the landscape around it. Early tracks like "Sun Of Nothing" was pure scorched Earth as it plummeted thru the atmosphere colliding with anything in its path, proving the immense growth of the band's sound and dynamics. While "Informal Gluttony" from the same period is the living/breathing cousin to Tool, astronomic guitar lines intermittent with blast beats that would make Immortal shed a blackened tear. "Silent Flight Parliament" topped off the evening with the band's signature grand scope opera of progressive metal, a heady mix of King Crimson, Opeth and a sound that is barren as a frozen land stitched together by Roger's whispers and a cathedral of instrumentation. The term "epic" might seem a bit overstated, bu2 it's damn near close.

Norway's Enslaved actually comes from a frozen land and their sound prepares you for the long journey into the elements. Having outgrown their initial proto-Viking metal origins, the band is still very Viking but instead of battles of yore, their focus has turned to the meditation of Norse mythology where Earth, sea, winds and the skies above dictate the fate of mighty warriors so much more than the tip of a sword. Early influences like Bathory have now been replaced with that of Pink Floyd thru a metallic scope. Opening with "Fusion Of Sense and Earth" and "Death In The Eyes Of Dawn," Enslaved left terra firma and headed into the clouds with its progressive renderings of notes found in the Poetic Edda, a source companion for all Norsemen.

Between song banter by vocalist/bassist Grutle Kjellson would be more apt for a friendly get together than the evening's proceedings but that's where Enslaved (and the aforementioned Opeth) confound you, for all their musical pathways and exploration, they are quite jovial and quick-witted Scandinavians. "Building With Fire" from arguably one of 2015's best metal album In Times puts the focus back on the music for the time being. Quite a straight ahead opening few moments guided by keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen's clean vocals is abruptly smothered by Kjellson's more guttural approach as the song cruises along with at a pace more in-line with Porcupine Tree than Darkthrone.

Having shed themselves of the restrictions of black metal's barred door mentality has freed the band since 2010 to really stretch their chops having created some masterful works including 2012's Rittir heralded as one of the finest metal recordings of the last (20) years. At times somber, others bombastic, Enslaved have appeared to clone all the trappings of modern progressive music while retaining the stronger points of death metal and the Norse collective. If In Times and Rittir captured the Dark Side/The Wall spirit animal, then three closing tracks ‘Ground," "The Watcher" and "Convoys to Nothingness" from earlier albums reach into "Astronomy Domine" thru the filter of black metal: full orchestral warhorse. From elk horn swigging Nordic plunderers to brilliant philosophers of Norse culture and the time continuum, Enslaved are unparalleled in their craft, give or take a few between song jokes.

Intronaut are quite determined in their quest to somehow meld Hum, Tool and The Melvins into a far-reaching, riff-oriented space traveler. Their brilliant new record The Direction Of Last Things is a testament to their confidence in delivering on their promise of tightrope walking between calamity and control. All of the four tracks tonight were from the new record with closer "Sul Ponticello" and it's circular riff shrouding the venue in an séance like rapture. For all the years hitting the boards with the likes of Helmet and others, the time has arrived for Intronaut to finally drift into its own airspace.