Between the Buried and Me, "Alaska"
"We conquer by continuing". This famous quote is the only way I can explain how a band in turmoil not only made a comeback but also recorded the best album of its career. With a self titled release on Germany's Lifeforce records, the star of Between the Buried and Me (BtBaM) shone bright but a rapid move to Victory records and constant touring created some internal problems for this North Carolina band. Amidst these turbulent times, BtBaM released its second album The Silent Circus. While gaining critical acclaim, The Silent Circus was a letdown; it showcased an unfocused albeit talented group of musicians at crossroads searching for inspiration. More line up changes followed with only two original members, vocalist Tommy Rogers and guitarist Paul Waggoner remaining. That's when many, including myself, thought that break up would be imminent. Yet, BtBaM recruited two of their friends and members of fellow North Carolina band Glass Casket to fill the void on drums and second guitar, and after almost a year of non stop touring and a couple of months in the studio, the music world is staring at the band's new album, Alaska: the best Victory or any hardcore label release in a long time.
Still deeply entrenched in progressive mindfuckery, Alaska sounds like a giant melting pot of musical genres, managing to incorporate the widest variety yet for BtBaM: black metal, grind, classical arpeggios, guttural death, progressive, dreamy pop, even a light jazzy instrumental a la Candiria, it's all here. With so much going on, things occasionally become confusing but BtBaM deserves credit for fluently integrating such variety into complex albeit catchy and intriguing compositions. Even so, Alaska is not an album I would listen to in its entirety. While the songs flow quite well, the overall involvedness of the material is better appreciated by digesting two, three songs at a time, especially since the latter half of Alaska contains longer, more challenging compositions.
Overall, if you are a BtBaM fan or simply like hardcore, Alaska is your top pick for best album of 2005.