There are very few bands out there that truly carve their own path into the crowded metal arena, but Between the Buried and Me are definitely one of them. They have been one of my favourite bands since 2003’s The Silent Circus, and they have never let me down yet.
Twisting, morphing, mutating, and changing in many different ways over the years, the band’s evolution has been a joy to watch from release to release. Never ones to sit still, this is a band that like to explore and push the envelope wherever they can.
So what does Automata I bring us? Well, first off it’s their shortest ever album at 36 minutes in length, but apparently it’s only the first part of two. Automata I is an interesting record in many ways; for people familiar with the band’s previous work, it’s essentially a melding together of many of the strongest aspects of the various elements that they have mastered over the years, while still pushing into uncharted waters. One of the things I especially like is the increased heavier extremity that was largely absent from their last album; 2015’s The Coma Ecliptic was an impressive and enjoyable work in its own right, like any Between the Buried and Me release, but I must admit it’s very nice to have that heavier edge more blatantly back in the band’s toolbox.
Automata I certainly isn’t all about heaviness though. Progressive soundscapes, intimate softness, emotive melodies, layered keyboards, highly-affecting clean singing, all of what makes this such a compelling and individual band are present and correct, and the band sound full of life and fire. Between the Buried and Me sound hungry, and not in any desperate way; they display a confidence that’s well-earned, based on talent and accomplishment alone.
This isn’t just a greatest hits mashing together of what makes this such an enjoyable band, either. They continue to innovate and create on Automata I, and continue to develop and evolve, while still incorporating their strengths from previous incarnations. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear, I can tell you. How many bands this deep into a decades-long career can continue to be as fresh, inventive, and impressive as Between the Buried and Me? Not many, that’s for sure.
Automata I is the sound of an incredible band still delivering astounding music. This is, quite simply, utterly essential for any extreme progressive metal fan.