Thomas Giles – Don’t Touch The Outside

It’s long past the time of day when Thomas Giles (aka Tommy Rogers of Between The Buried And Me) began being able to do whatever the hell he wanted. To be fair, to say his day job band has moments of eclecticism is like saying that Brexit negotiations have been a little bit difficult. And that diversity of spirit, of zig-zag, is absolutely at the core of fourth solo offering Don’t Touch The Outside (Sumerian Records), a record that is everything and nothing, and that is laissez-faire in respect of genre while being incredibly focused in trying to keep the listener moving. Continue reading

Between The Buried & Me – Automata II

Forever moving to the beat of their own drum, progressive metallers Between The Buried & Me have very rarely done anything in a conventional manner. Always renowned for their madcap blend of contrasting styles and structures, a previous announcement this year saw them choose to release their latest effort, Automata (Sumerian) as a double, split album individually released throughout the year. With Automata I seeing the light of day back in March, it was expected to have set the tone for its companion piece, Automata II; but once again, BTBAM do things their own way. Continue reading

Between The Buried And Me – Automata 1

Surpassing expectations is never an easy thing to do. In the case of North Carolina’s Between The Buried And Me, the speculation over what this most idiosyncratic of bands would do next has ranged from mild curiosity to fevered anticipation and all the compass points in between. The plaudits that followed 2015’s Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade) varied from admiration to salivation and whilst there remained a soupcon of “I preferred their earlier work” running alongside, it was a record that established the band as one of the tent poles in an increasingly burgeoning Progressive Metal scene.

Continue reading

Ayreon Releases A New Song Featuring Members Of Dream Theater, Epica, Blind Guardian And More!

Arjen Lucassen recently announced that the new Ayreon album, The Source, will be hitting stores on April 27th via Mascot Label Group. Continue reading

Between The Buried And Me’s Tommy Rogers Releases Two New Solo Tracks

thomas-giles

Between The Buried And Me frontman Tommy Rogers will release his new solo album under the name Thomas Giles on November 4th thanks to Sumerian Records. Continue reading

Between The Buried And Me – Haken: Live at Electric Ballroom

between the buried and me haken uk euro tour

There used to be a misapprehension that “feel” and technique were mutually exclusive, particularly if your act was of the progressive nature. Musicians were either in a deep, trance state where odysseys were channelled through fingers and larynxes (it’d certainly explain some of the lyrical fascinations of the 70’s), or were producing unfeeling, but impeccable, noodling, or to be more contemporaneous, poly-rhythming. Both of tonight’s denizens of the stage well and truly disproved that; Haken bringing a light, uplifting elation and Between The Buried And Me a myriad of journeys.

Another misconception is that bands of a prog bent don’t have a sense of humour, a fallacy shattered within seconds of entering Camden’s Electric Ballroom and seeing Haken’s glorious Kevin Bacon T-shirt, leaving the unsure in no doubt as to how to pronounce the band name. With fellow Ghost Cultist Rafa Davies having acquired said garment and with beverages purchased, the mood was ripe for the London based sextet to enhance a reputation that took a steep climb up 2013’s The Mountain (InsideOut). Concentrating mainly on that breakthrough opus, they set about marrying the impressive quirky and progressive rock with an immaculate live performance, including a touch of ‘Hocus Pocus’ing, spotless yodel-ay-ee-oh’s and all.

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me’s approach is an altogether more layered assault, from teasing and probing progressive movements, through floating crescendos diving into djented stabs and jazzed death metal acts of sensory violence. Despite being shorn of any elaborate production, nonetheless BTBAM don’t do basics, with each band member faultless and pristine, delivering each song with album quality precision in a consummate performance that still felt like there was meaning and intent in the delivery.

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

It’s no secret I struggle with BTBAM in general, but a quality live act is a quality live act, and the North Carolinians are able to transmit their passion for their music and their fans, ensuring multi-faceted beasts like ‘Ants Of The Sky’ connect not just aurally but emotionally with a charged audience who respond in turn. Here lies no serenade of po-faced disconnection, instead deep, ethereal moments are respected and inhaled, and the crushing metal segments are devoured.

And yet if prog-gasm had been achieved in a main set that included three very well received tracks from this years’ mind-melting Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade), along with favourites ‘Selkies’ and ‘Lay Your Ghosts To Rest’ and more, that’s nothing to the rapture that beheld the throng during a remarkable cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, during which Tommy Rogers showed that Brian May et al missed a trick by not throwing hods of cash his way to front the band during their post-Freddie shows.

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

This was a performance to impress even the most sceptical with both bands bringing complex, technical and diverse songs to the live setting with exquisite tightness and proficiency, but above all exuding emotion and sincerity while holding that line of not taking things too seriously live. While Haken’s music spoke to me most, there’s no denying that damn near everyone left feeling they’d witnessed a great gig.

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

 

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

Between The Buried And Me, by Jessica Lotti Photography

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WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY

PHOTOS BY JESSICA LOTTI PHOTOGRAPHY

Augment Of Rebirth (Part 2) – Dan Briggs of Between The Buried And Me

 

 

Between the Buried and Me, photo by Justin Reich

Between the Buried and Me, photo by Justin Reich

With their, at times, near insanity-inducing levels of genre merging and sheer unpredictability it is pretty apparent that the lyrical subject matter of Between The Buried And Me also fits this bill. Even a cursory glance over previous song titles such as ‘Foam Born (A) The Backtrack’ and ‘Croakies and Boatshoes’ prove that even lyrically they come with rather a large dose of head scratching. Even so, the concept that saddled both The Parallax releases (both Metal Blade) was so intricate that explaining fully would require its own essay to explain (Dan Briggs’ own advice in conversation was to check Wikipedia).

On Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade) the story is much easier to understand on the face of it, but still presents a multitude of “WTF” moments, nor is it any less grandiose. In its most basic explanation it follows a man who falls into a self-induced coma in order to explore a plethora of different realities. Seriously, it’s still easier to understand than The Parallax.

Firstly, Brigg’s explains where the story came from: “That was totally Tommy’s thing. We were a while into the album and I think he was getting nervous, he was out in California and we were locked in, and we pretty much had the album laid out. I think Tommy felt all of a sudden “I had a load of catching up to do”. I don’t know how many ideas he had before he went with the coma idea.”

“I know he was influenced by The Trumann Show and The Twilight Zone, like you’re in a reality and it’s not quite what it seems, it’s fucked up and it’s not what you thought. Thus lies an interesting groundwork for, I guess inherently a BTBAM album which is going to be all over the place.”

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With this overriding story thread through the album, rather than simply an ideal or a notion, the band have raised the idea before of it being more than a concept album but instead a “Rock Opera”. The thought behind this is one that Briggs seems keen to back up, as he explains. “All a rock opera is, is telling a story through a song, and that’s what we are doing. Not too different from a concept album but it’s being in the mindset that we wanted to do something more theatrical and take it to the next level, and for us that was just calling it that, and that was propelling us to a different headspace.”

Certainly it’s a terminology which pricks up interest more so than the more tried and tested concept album, and with it brings a greater sense of gravitas. This way of looking at their work, it turns out, is also a product of some important members coming further out of their shell in terms of story writing, even with elements of stories and tales in their work before;Colors (Victory) is a conceptual album but not lyrically, musically it works as one unit but lyrically was not locked in. Tommy was not confident enough that he could do it, even though there are songs like ‘Sun Of Nothing’ that was such an intense story that surely he could have locked in and carried out. So he was hinting at it then and on the The Great Misdirect (Victory), and he picked at little elements of those in The Parallax, but he is at a cool place now when it comes to writing stories and being vivid.”

What is made even clearer from Briggs’ explanations about the songwriting processes is just how long the whole system has proven. “Some of these songs we have already been sitting on for a year, and it’s so nice that people are finally hearing it, to finally get feedback.”

 

Between The buried and Me, by Meg Loyal Photography

Between The buried and Me, by Meg Loyal Photography

With the framework begun such a long while ago, it makes it all the more bewildering the number of other musical projects that Briggs has under his belt and currently in work. As passionate about each one, with a hugely variant music taste, Briggs relishes the chance to touch base, firstly with the most high-profile of all, his dissonant, Mahavishnu Orchestra inspired Trioscapes, and the adrenaline shot it gave him: “We have done a good bit, we’ve done handfuls of touring in America and trying to get to Europe; it’s just lining up with the right people to make it happen. That group’s a lot of fun. When that started in 2011 it really gave me a jolt, and I feel like I’ve been riding a wave ever since. I don’t know what it is but it just got me so pumped and really excited and it hasn’t stopped.”

Also included are the more melodic Orbs with a new album, which “We have been trying to shop it and work out how to get it released”, a project he describes as the closest yet to a solo effort, which is “inspired by a lot of music from the 30’s and 40’s, jazz standards, but it’s pretty fucked up, it’s different”, and another that has been mostly kept under wraps until now which sees a new working relationship with Richard Henshall of UK tour buddies Haken.

“We haven’t really announced the band yet but I’ve been posting bits and we finished the album in April, trying to find a good time to record it, which will probably be towards the end of the year or start of next year. That music is really fun, really exciting, really different, and I love the band Haken, and Richard has been super cool to work with.”

How Briggs finds the time and the energy to work on so many different acts and types of music is simply astounding, and you get the impression this is just the tip of the iceberg for him. What can’t be overlooked though is how much Briggs (and the rest of BTBAM for that matter) are fans of exciting, experimental music that pushes boundaries. “For me, all the music I do is equally as important. It’s never a question of do I ever want to book studio time in these two weeks I have free before I go out; it’s like ‘Yeah, obviously, am so excited to do that’.”

More than enough proof that the future of the quirky, difficult to grasp music is in very sturdy hands.

 

CHRIS TIPPELL