Written by Carcassbomb (Don’t yell at me)
Between The Buried And Me – Colors II
Released August 20, 2021
TRAPPED IN OUR GEOMETRIC NESTS OF NOT GIVING A FUCK
In this review I will be asking the questions, “is it possible to listen an album too many times prior to review?” and “Is this just a fancy cover of Colors?”. It’s an ambitious thing to make a sequel to an album as iconic as Colors. It’s not their first time however, as they have followed up The Parallax with a sequel before and those two albums are considered among their best by many fans. Automata also has two parts. Both of these examples however, were made within a short timespan from each other whereas between Colors and Colors II is 14 years. Colors II is also 14 minutes longer than Colors. I definitely think one is better than the other, fuck me right?
As a sequel, it is spiritually true to the original in sequence which is intriguing and a very BTBAM kind of thing to do, however… it doesn’t quite pack the same punch and may have been extended more than needed. “Human Is Hell (Another One With Love)” just isn’t “White Walls”, there is nothing here to challenge songs like “White Walls”, “Ants In The Sky” and “Sun Of Nothing”. It is less memorable in this way but perhaps time will prove me wrong. It’s a cover of the original in a lot of ways with some twists injected into it and there’s a fair bit of self indulgent prog added to the sequencing. For me, it breaks up the heavier vocals TOO much, making it less consistent. I suspect this lack of consistency is what makes some of the melodic peaks less impactful and makes the album as a whole feel less cosmic. You know what I’m just going to say it: they crammed too much into Colors II.
As far as I can understand thematically, it’s set in a hypothetical future to say what everyone’s already saying right now: The environment is faltering, it will kill us, corporations and cities are bad. Life in the online era is just unfulfilling. There is also a bit of big picture liberal political sentiment on this album in terms of it’s message that I’m tired of hearing from celebrities. I will get into it later. On a purely musical level, which is all that’s going to matter to a lot of people, it’s a fantastic album that puts a modern spin on some old songs. “Monochrome” is a good opening mirroring the original opening and “Revolution In Limbo” is a strong point of the album with some of the best clean work the band has done to date. I always know when I’m hearing “Fix The Error” because it’s such an intense constantly moving song but I love the little drum breakdowns and screaming over the electronic sounding banjo.
There’s a couple of approaches to this album, primarily it’s a solid progressive metalcore/post-harcore album and at many points it’s an okay prog rock/avant garde album. This lack of focus removes it from being in anyway iconic in it’s own right and presents it as more of a fun sideshow. On one hand, I applaud them for deconstructing the original and finding creative ways to inject fun or interesting moments into the songs and heightening others, but on the other hand they did a couple of things that I find annoying to hear and the overall product is still just Colors. There are a few things that stick out as a distraction with each repeat of the album, like the meme airhorns on “The Double Helix Of Destruction” or the obnoxious avant garde cartoony style on “Prehistory” and “The Future Is Behind Us” that are akin to Mr Bungle or Dog Fashion Disco. These extras weren’t nearly as impactful as the square dance jig from “Ants In The Sky” on Colors or the accordion in “Prequel To The Sequel”, and the cartoony avant garde on “Sun Of Nothing” is far briefer and more lowkey. The synths aren’t as atmospheric either, instead having louder bursts of dancy synth and fast paced video game tunes. Colors II feels very much imbued with the energy from Coma Ecliptic, which I enjoyed a lot when it came out but is distinct from Colors and thus splits the sound unnecessarily.
In 2007 a lot of what was adapted into the mix of styles was Opeth brand progressive death metal, metalcore and groove from the era with some jazz, and now they’ve updated that mix to be more reflective of the current time (plus the jazz still, jazz is timeless). I enjoy the aspect of the album that leans more into tech death and deathcore at times. Particularly with how much “chop” is in some of the drumming and riffs. If they had spent more time with modern metal genres like that, and even slam, I probably would have lost my damn mind for this album. By far the strongest aspect of the album is the guitars and guitar tone which are just as on point and moving as ever when allowed to show off. Speaking of showing off, I swear the bass is given more time than anyone to go off, so bass lovers will be quite happy with the great rhythms on II. The bass is so wild and rich in tone that you’d be excused for often confusing it with the synths. The growls are basically the same which is remarkable as 14 years have passed. Some of the clean vocal melodies are exactly the same as well but there’s far more that has changed here with a variety of styles and a higher level of presence. It feels like many instrumental and screaming parts were replaced with rock opera musical level of prog rock similar to The Protomen.
This time around it’s a bit of a full scale Tommy show with a lot more clean vocal performances and a bunch of synth jams (some better than others). This is also reflected lyrically with what I can only describe as “Bo Burnham metal” because it gives me the same vibes of a rich guy trying to fix the world’s problems by thinking REALLY hard inside of his house while the rest of us participate in a daily class war at the root of everything going on. Throw in a little bit of Elon Musk science fantasy for good measure. The lyrics here are so much wordier and have a more audible presence across the album with the extra cleans, whereas on Colors if you look at the lyrics, it’s largely repeating phrases that sound good screamed. There is still a lot to love about the performances but after listening dozens and dozens and dozens of times, certain lyrics present in a funny way to me that can detract from the experience if you think about what is being said. There’s a lack of mystery. Don’t get me wrong there’s some fantastic lyrics and Tommy is a talented writer, but I think the inclusion of a lot of real life things like directly referencing doom-scrolling Twitter, may have been a misstep.
To summarize, Tommy is a little overbearing on this one. I like Colors II a lot but it doesn’t give me the same emotional hair raising response that Colors provides me even now after all these years. Largely what I like about Colors II can be found on Colors. The musicianship and composition however, cannot be denied regardless of choices made and my personal taste.