Between the Buried and Me: Colors 10th Anniversary
The Contortionist, Polyphia, Toothgrinder
Thu, October 12, 2017
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pmTrees
This event is all ageshttp://www.treesdallas.com/event/1486785/
Tommy Rogers posits: "Coma Ecliptic is a new life for BTBAM. Throughout the process we worked harder than we ever have and really pushed the BTBAM sound to a new identity. In a world of repetition, I'm very proud to be a part of something that is extremely rewarding, as well as frightening. When you don't push yourself you will never know what the outcome is. The outcome is Coma Ecliptic."
What is Coma Ecliptic? It can be interpreted as a modern rock opera, and another ambitious concept album from a band that has completely mastered that format. Dan Briggs comments: "Spending the last year immersed in a world of Quadrophenia, Operation Mindcrime, The Wall- as well as Sondheim and Lloyd Webber musicals, Stravinsky and Mussorgsky symphonic suites; writing an over the top, dramatic and forward thinking rock opera was the most natural thing to do." The story follows the wanderings of an unidentified man, stuck in a coma, as he journeys through his past lives. Each song is its own episode in a modern day, sort of The Twilight Zone-esque fashion. The unidentified man enters each world and is offered a choice: stay, or move on to the next in search of something better, something more "perfect." The man does find his ideal life, but then is offered the ultimate choice of life or death. He chooses life and wakes up to his own actual reality. It's at that moment he realizes that he had been in a coma - everything that happened had been dreams and false memories. After awakening, we find the man outside finally experiencing reality, and he sees what he has been missing: the world is beautiful, the air is fresh, and the people appear to be happy, and then he falls over dead. The take away from this is to make the best of your life. People are constantly searching for something better without taking the time to appreciate the things they have. What we need may already be here, and is hopefully real. We may all be in a coma in another life.
Musically, Coma Ecliptic boasts a series of emotive peaks and valleys that drive the narrative along with the lyrics. Tracks such as "Memory Palace", while sounding wholly unique, clearly have a distinct BTBAM flavor to which fans have grown so attached. "The Coma Machine" brings to mind prog in the most classic sense; think YES and King Crimson passages with the added layer of modern metal heaviness. "Dim Ignition" highlights Rogers' continuing development as a keyboardist, but don't fret, there's still plenty of speed, technically challenging guitar, bass, and drum runs, and quirkiness throughout. What makes these parts work is the interplay of the heavy and technical with the simpler, almost cinematic, soft passages; that is the power of Coma Ecliptic. The listening experience is a journey, and when "Life in Velvet" brings the album to a sudden, triumphant end, fans will surely be reaching for the replay button. But what does the band think? Rogers adds: "If you asked me what this record sounds like, I would tell you BTBAM. With every listen I still find new exciting moments that each member has put into these songs. After all these years we still push each other to try new things and push our individual skills to the next level. It is an absolute thrill to write with such an inspiring group of people." Briggs continues: "Writing with a focus on storytelling and just crushing melodic themes set the tone early on before we were even in the rehearsal room together. Put your velvet capes on and get ready for a journey!"
Coma Ecliptic was recorded in January and February of 2015 with longtime Between the Buried and Me producer Jamie King at the Basement Recordings in North Carolina. Drums and piano were recorded with King and Kris Hilbert at the Fidelitorium. Final mixing and mastering was placed in the capable hands of Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend) at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden.
Between the Buried and Me began their journey in the year 2000 in North Carolina. Over the past 15 years, they have released seven full-length albums, an EP, a live album, a covers album, and a blu-ray/DVD. Their current lineup has been consistent since 2005, and they have taken full advantage of a stable and productive group of musicians. Each of their albums since that year have debuted on the Billboard Top 200 chart: Alaska (2005) at #121, The Anatomy Of (2006) at #151, Colors (2007) at #57, The Great Misdirect (2009) at #36, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP (2011) at #54, and The Parallax: Future Sequence (2012) at #22. Additionally, the band's first-ever Blu-ray release, Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Music Video Charts, impressively ahead of video releases from progressive legends Dream Theater and YES. Consistency and growth in an epoch of shrinking music sales is indicative of the supreme impact the band has had across the heavy and progressive music landscapes.
The Contortionist is such a collective, achieving a coveted level of self-realization, creative execution and sophistication with their adventuresome, cosmos evoking progressive rock.
Sure, there are plenty of credible reasons The Contortionist is often associated with top-tier, critically embraced progressive death metal and mathcore groups like Between The Buried And Me, Animals As Leaders and their upcoming touring partners, Periphery.
It doesn’t take a metal detector to discover the elements owing, to some degree, to iconic prog-metal masters like Rush, Cynic, Meshuggah and Dream Theater, either. But on the steady climb from Exoplanet (2010) to Intrinsic (2012) that has crystalized with Language (2014), The Contortionist lay claim to a genre within a genre all their own.
The album serves as the recorded introduction of ex-Last Chance To Reason vocalist Michael Lessard to The Contortionist fold, ‘though he’s taken the stage live with his new bandmates for well over a year already. Lessard lends his voice to the signature songcraft developed by the original core of the band, guitarist Cameron Maynard and the brotherly duo of Robby and Joey Baca, on guitar and drums, respectively. They’re joined by new additions Jordan Eberhardt (bass) and Eric Guenther (keyboards).
“I can say that Mike is the most talented vocalist we've had in the band,” Robby declares unequivocally. “We’ve progressed, which has been a real, organic process. It will be cool for people to hear the kind of songwriting and music we are creating with The Contortionist enhanced by a vocalist who is totally up to par.”
Lessard enjoyed the challenge inherent in coming into an established band and discovering their work habits while integrating his own unique style at the same time.
“I came from a progressive metal band. We share odd time signatures and a lot of harmonic modulation. But other than that it’s two different animals. We all have the same goals: put out the best music we can make, play lots of shows, have a good time, and challenge ourselves. Our goals were the same, so everything has meshed perfectly.”
The Contortionist has attracted a legion of dedicated diehards who obsessively study each tone, each time signature, each transition, each note. The band’s fans also include listeners who have no interest in playing or theory at all, but rather, are exhilarated to put on headphones and embark on the journey of the albums.
The Contortionist has taken their patented blend of trippy atmosphere, dense conceptual storytelling and jaw-dropping technical proficiency on the road, joining forces with Deftones, Protest The Hero, Hatebreed, All Shall Perish, The Faceless and more.
“I feel like we successfully combined quality musicianship and interesting music with good songwriting and memorable vocal hooks,” Robby says. “The record is pretty catchy overall.”
A different producer was drafted each time The Contortionist has made an album. Language was created together at North Carolina’s The Basement Recording with producer Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me, The Human Abstract, He Is Legend).
As tastemaker blog MetalSucks noted in a post with the headline, “Drop What You’re Doing and Listen to the New Contortionist Single Right Now!,” Language embraces the spacey adventurous flourishes of Intrinsic, with concise and streamlined certainty.
The album’s first single, “Language I,” was also the first song the group crafted for the album. The product of much time and deliberation, every moment transitions seamlessly to the next. “Primordial Sound” boasts an emphasis on chord progressions with key signature modulations, and yet it has an accessible rock n’ roll vibe and swing.
“Thrive” is a wicked blend of the atmospheric heft of Deftones and The Contortionist’s own well established progressive attack.
Ever the thoughtful organizers and creators, The Contortionist mapped out the record from a philosophical standpoint with a compelling theme. The core conceptual vision of Language revolves around balance. Balance between classic songwriting and exhibitionist musicianship; intuitive expression and something more calculated.
“Playing with that idea, throughout all the songs, there is also a story woven in that plays on a few different ideas,” Lessard explains. “Even beyond the actual lyrics and what they are literally saying, some of the vocal sounds themselves play a part.”
It’s a crude summary of an ambitious project - one that has dense layers of sophistication listeners can delve into on their own, while others may be just as happy to nod their head along to the expansive rhythms and accessible song motifs.
The men of The Contortionist remain in awe of prog-titans like Yes, King Crimson and Rush. At the same time, the music they are creating will not only build bridges between different genres and different scenes; it can even send younger fans to dig through their parents’ LP collections look for albums by old legends. Language is more than capable of launching The Contortionist to the top of the progressive realm and into the creative stratosphere.
The Dallas, TX-based instrumental outfit has just re-released their debut full-length, Muse, on Equal Vision Records. The album was originally self-released as an independent artist and is now available as a re-mastered, re-packaged release through the label. The new and improved release also makes Muse available at physical retail locations for the first time. Muse was produced by Nick Sampson [Of Mice & Men, Asking Alexandria] and is also available streaming in full at Polyphia.merchnow.com.
Upon its initial release last September, the full-length self-titled landed on several Billboard Charts including: No. 5 on Internet Albums, No. 6 on Hard Rock Albums, No. 13 on Independent Albums, No. 22 on Top Rock Albums, No. 71 on Top Current Albums, and No. 76 on Top 200.
“The album’s overall theme is this dark, eerie charade through the night,” explains Justin. “You could think of it as this torturous and fun carnival adventure. At the same time, it’s personal.”
The delicate balance of guttural guitar gnashing, polyrhythmic stop-start percussion, and the most delightful vocal schizophrenia this side of the Mississippi fuels this midnight waltz. It’s an amalgam the group has unlocked over the past few years beginning with a string of independent demos, their Schizophrenic Jubilee EP, and tours supporting the likes of Periphery, The Faceless, After The Burial, The Contortionist, and more. However, in April 2015, they honed and focused this attack, spending an uninterrupted month in a Maryland studio with producer Taylor Larson [Darkest Hour, Capture The Crown, Periphery], creating what would become Nocturnal Masquerade.
“The writing process was a lot different than past projects,” he goes on. “Those were very leisurely and without any urgency. With this album, we set a deadline to get something going. So, we sat down and put 100 percent of our focus into it. The pressure and concentration really helped us in a way. It motivated us to put out our best material.”
Nocturnal Masquerade commences with the budding explosion of “The House (That Fear Built),” which relays a relatable emotion. “That song was about the turning point for me where I really wanted to get out of my town, experience new things, and live my own life,” admits Justin. “I had this urge to do something different.”
Immediately after, the grinding freight train of “Lace & Anchor” derails on a haunting refrain, which sees Justin “dig deep to pull something out that I wanted to talk about but was afraid of.” “Blue” offers a mid-album rumination on “overcoming obstacles in your way” with a bombastic break and deliberate smash. “Diamonds for Gold” enlists the vocal talents of Periphery frontman Spencer Sotelo, expanding the boundaries and then destroying them in a hypnotic twin harmony.
Justin continues, “Spencer wanted to do a verse on one of the songs, and that one was perfect. It’s about trading in something you have that’s untouchable for something less. It’s like selling yourself to the devil.”
Now, Toothgrinder continue a home state tradition of breaking musical barriers, originally perpetuated by New Jersey stalwarts such as Catch 22 and Dillinger Escape Plan.
2709 Elm Street
Dallas, TX, 75226