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What The Hell Happened To…12.15.08: Between The Buried And Me – The Silent Circus

December 15, 2008 | Posted by Dan Marsicano

The Introduction

Hello, everybody, welcome to another edition of What The Hell Happened To…, the column that promises to maintain its no-layoff policy. I’m your host Dan Marsicano, the guy who’s slowly counting down the days until Metallica stops by Philadelphia (33 days to be exact).

It’s nearing the end of the year and that means that 411 will be doing its annual “Best Of…” feature. Like previous years, you will get all of the staff’s picks for best album, worst album, best comeback, etc. I won’t spoil my list, because I know everybody is dying to know what album was my favorite of the year. If you follow my work, its relatively easy to figure it out; I’ll leave it to all of you to do some investigating.

If anybody is looking to get some publicity for their band, send me an e-mail and I’ll feature you in the Who The Hell Is… section. Also, don’t forget to check out my reviews at SMN News, which has exclusive content you won’t see at 411 Mania.

Look out for the Saliva review this week at 411 Music, along with a review of Mobile’s Tales From The City and The Reasoning’s Dark Angel. To add onto all that greatness, I will also have an exclusive interview with Saliva frontman Josey Scott.

The Band

Tommy Rogers- Vocals, Keyboard
Paul Waggoner- Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Nick Fletcher- Rhythm Guitar
Jason King- Bass
Mark Castillo- Drums

The Track Listing

1. Lost Perfection- a: Coulrophobia-4:13
2. Lost Perfection- b: Anablephobia-3:01
3. Camilla Rhodes-4:49
4. Mordecai-5:48
5. Reaction-2:01
6. (Shevanel, Take 2)-3:14
7. Ad A Dglgmut-7:38
8. Destructo Spin-4:46
9. Aesthetic-3:45
10. The Need For Repetition-13:40

The History

Between the Buried and Me, from North Carolina, was formed in 2001 by Rogers, Waggoner, King, Fletcher, and drummer Will Goodyear. These five musicians worked for a year on new material before releasing their self-titled debut album in 2002 via Lifeforce Records. The album wasn’t a huge hit, but the critics gave it positive feedback and Victory Records became intrigued by the band.

After the release of their debut, Victory Records signed them over. A year after their debut album hit shelves, Between the Buried and Me began work on their sophomore album. Goodyear was out as the drummer, and in his place came Castillo. The Silent Circus was the end result, which included a hit single “Mordecai.” However, change was on the horizon for the band…

The Analysis

Between the Buried and Me has made quite a name for themselves in progressive metal. It’s amazing to see the transformation the band went through over the years, the slow evolution of their core sound to what is now an eccentric mix of death metal, progressive metal, jazz, and hoe-downs on display with Colors. I first heard of Between the Buried and Me through the forums on Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy’s official web site. “Sun of Nothing” was the song that won me over and Colors became my #1 choice for album of the year in 2007.

“Aspirations” Live 2002

I worked my way back up the band’s catalog, finally buying The Silent Circus a few months ago. I was taken aback on how different, yet similar, it sounded in comparison to Alaska and Colors. All the elements that make up their later sound are evident, but there is a grittier tone, a rawness lacking in future albums. Rogers’ vocals are still a work-in-progress, his harsh vocals incomprehensible for the majority of the album, and his clean vocals ranging from stellar to lackluster. Compared to their debut, Rogers made a huge step forward, amazing considering the short turn around between the two albums.

Lead guitarist Paul Waggoner comes out on his own on The Silent Circus. While somewhat subdued on the debut album, save for a few select moments, like “Aspirations,” Between the Buried and Me’s sophomore album became the Waggoner show. His riffs are technical and proficient, while his solos on “Mordecai” and “Ad A Dglgmut” are memorable and musically stunning. If metal fans were to come back twenty years from now and look at the career of Paul Waggoner, the first look at greatness would be The Silent Circus.

The rest of the band isn’t slouches at their respective instruments, especially bassist Jason King, who has a strong presence on the album. Drummer Mark Castillo is decent, and displays solid fills and double bass work from time to time, but Richardson definitely raised the bar for the band on Alaska. Rhythm guitarist Nick Fletcher is competent enough, but I never felt the chemistry between the guitarists that Waggoner and Waring have.

The Silent Circus is, in my mind, split into three sections. The first section is from track one-three. Starting with the two-part “Lost Perfection,” the album is kicked off with an explosion of metal, never letting up for seven minutes. A dream about the last baby on Earth becomes a platform for Rogers to go insane on vocals and a staggering wall of sound to close out the second part “Anablephobia.” The breakdowns are in full effect on “Camilla Rhodes,” and unlike other “metalcore” bands, Between the Buried and Me take the repetition out of them for full-on aggression.

The second section is the entire middle portion, from track four to seven. At this point, the band opens up their soundscape a bit, bringing in clean vocals, acoustic guitars, and melodic solos; in other words, an early look at the true nature of the band. “Mordecai” was the single off the album and became a live favorite, even to this day. The song starts out heavy and relentless, before slipping into a clean breakdown with the first sign of Rogers’ limitless vocal range. Add in Waggoner’s tasteful solo and you got a huge success on your hands. The song is actually structured similarly to another fan favorite off of Alaska, “Selkies: The Endless Obsession.”

“Mordecai” Music Video

The one-two punch of the atmospheric “Reaction” and acoustic ballad “(Shevanel, Take 2)” has received mixed reactions from fans. The two tracks are completely different from anything Between the Buried and Me has composed to date, and is as out of left-field as the band can get. The emotion is there and Rogers does a good job on clean vocals, but it is largely unmemorable. Thankfully, The Silent Circus gets back on track with the best track on the album, “Ad A Dglgmut.”

“Ad A Dglgmut,” the beauty of noise, is an almost eight-minute epic that goes through individual movements, starting with random screams from Rogers and the duel guitar attack of Waggoner and Fletcher. About three minutes in, the ultimate beauty underlying Between the Buried and Me’s sound comes pouring out in full supply, with an endearing solo by Waggoner and great lyrics, sung with gusto by Rogers; “It all makes sense…we’re capable of beauty. Through sounds that make one cringe. The dogs only hear us now.”

The last section of the album returns to the sound of the first section, though somewhat less inspired. “Destructo Spin” is a political track with an anti-Bush message. I thoroughly enjoyed the Opeth-ish ending, with a slight groove behind it to get the heads bobbing. “Aesthetic” starts out amazing, with Waggoner destroying on the guitar, but the promising intro does not get fulfilled with a surprisingly dull track that seemingly goes nowhere. “The Need For Repetition” is a slower track and one with a justifiable title, as the lyrics get repeated ad nausea, in order to get the message across about the horrors involving the molestation of alter boys at the hands of Catholic priests. The hidden track, entitled “The Man Land,” is the greatest hidden track in history. It’s so over-the-top that you can’t help but laugh at it.

“Ad A Dglgmut” Live

Some may argue that Between the Buried and Me began to hit their stride with 2005’s Alaska, but I beg to differ. The Silent Circus was the first step in the right direction for the band. I have no problem with their debut album, and was even thinking about profiling that album this week, but I felt that The Silent Circus was a better choice, because of the more focused nature of their sophomore album. Their debut album had a lot of potential, but lacked direction at times. The Silent Circus saw Between the Buried and Me find that direction and utilize it to improve their songwriting. There are some great early tracks that the band doesn’t play enough (“Ad A Dglgmut” being the prime example). The band would be completely revamped after the release of The Silent Circus, with only Rogers and Waggoner staying on. With three new band members, Between the Buried and Me was ready to conquer the world. That story, however, is for another edition…

Who The Hell Is… Ne Obliviscaris?

Official Web Site: Ne Obliviscaris

MySpace Page: Ne Obliviscaris

When I’m looking for new and interesting metal bands to get into, there is only one source I use: Encyclopaedia Metallium. Their constant updates and new reviews of classic and unknown metal bands have helped me expand my musical horizon. One day last week, I stumbled upon Australian progressive black metal band Ne Obliviscaris. With a mix of clean and harsh vocals and the inclusion of a violinist, I was intrigued to say the least. I was able to obtain the band’s first demo, The Aurora Veil, and to say I was impressed would be the understatement of the year.

The only qualm I have with it is that it was released in 2007. If it was released this year, it might have been in my “Best Of…” list this year. The demo is only three songs, but runs over thirty minutes. Not one single second is wasted, with an eccentric mix of raspy black metal vocals with clean, high falsettos being supported by a steady rhythm section, with superb bass work, and an energetic and uplifting violin performance by Tim Charles. The guitar work by Matt Klavins and Benjamin Baret can’t be denied either; Baret’s solos are tasteful and both guitarist’ riffs are jagged and shred into the listener’s earlobe.

If there was one song I would recommend listening to, it would be the melodic “Forget Not,” which starts off with a beautifully depressive violin solo and turns into a black metal classic. As long as you have an open mind towards music, Ne Obliviscaris might become your new favorite band; I know it has for me.

“As Icicles Fall” Live 2008 (Credit: depak147)

“Xenoflux” Live (Credit: Tom aka Pethical)

The Conclusion

Well, that is it for another edition of What The Hell Happened To…I hope you all enjoyed a deeper look at The Silent Circus. Next week, I’m going to crack open Trust Company’s second, and as of December 2008, their last album True Parallels. What happened to the band that caused them to go from being certified Gold status by the RIAA on their debut album to fade into obscurity in only three years’ time? Find out next time on What The Hell Happened To…


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Dan Marsicano
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