Being that I didn’t really enjoy The Silent Circus, I wasn’t even aware that Between the Buried and Me was coming out with a new album. And when I heard clips from a number of songs, and all of “Selkies”, I knew I had a tough decision to make. Should I fork over the loot to buy the album?
This time, the money was well spent. First off, this band is heavier than any other I have heard on Victory Records; at times they drop into sludgy death marches more reminiscent of Morbid Angel than any band on their own label. Short, but oh so sweet, is one of my favorites, “Croakies and Boatshoes”, a song that would have fit very well on Domination.
The longer tracks, “All Bodies”, “Selkies”, “Roboturner”, and “Backwards Marathon” are the ones that should have the entire metal world’s attention, though. “Selkies” begins with an almost Reroute to Remain feel, but this band is no In Flames clone. Over the next 6 minutes, the song weaves through increasingly intense passages with ever-changing tempos, inaudibly fast riffs, chilling death metal progressions, calm acoustic passages with clean singing, and epic power-progressive metal buildups. I have yet to hear a metal album this year that drags the listener so constantly through rapidly shifting extreme emotions.
After this review is finished, I’m going to give The Silent Circus another listen. In my mad dash to find bands that remind me of bands I already know and love, I may have skipped over a band which exemplifies what I love about music: raw aggression, jaw-dropping musical ability, no fear of taking risks, and palpable emotion that spills forth from the speakers in a variety of melodic and downright brutal manifestations. And even if I find my original feelings towards the previous album to still be true, it could take nothing away from the brilliance of Alaska. I have an inkling that the anticipation of this and many other genuine metal releases from this year (Opeth, Nevermore, God Forbid, Meshuggah, etc.) bodes well for the current state and immediate future of metal. So take a voyage through the rugged, yet beautiful terrain of Alaska, and experience the best of what contemporary metal has to offer.