Everyone has to start somewhere, but for Between the Buried and Me, there’s really not that much of a difference between their early stuff and their new stuff. They’re a lot more creative now (Parallax II is yet more proof of this), the vocals are loads better today, and the band focuses more on entire albums with one connecting story instead of individual songs telling different stories, but the insanity and remarkable musicianship have constantly tied all of their works together. The group’s self-titled release, which dropped way back in 2002, is still a work worth multiple listens and is certainly an album ahead of its time.
“More of Myself to Kill,” the diverse opener, begins as a chaotic number led by Tommy Rogers’ intense (and often unintelligible) growl. The track transitions quickly, however, to a more melodic sound (which the band is known for combining with chaos) with a substantial vocal performance from clean singer and drummer Will Goodyear (his only album with the band). “Arsonist” is a compelling track, mainly because of the lyrics which deal with the controversial “religious group” Westboro Baptist Church. Rogers brings all of his anger to the song with lyrics like, “Every day I hope that your end will bring a better end/Fuck your god, your god of shit.”
“Aspirations” contains some fantastic guitar work from Paul Waggoner and Nick Fletcher, creating one of the most melodic tracks on the entire album. Of course, at times, the song sounds like it could have come from Iron Maiden’s discography, but it is easily one of the best songs on the entire album. The leads on “What We Have Become” are eerily awesome, but it’s the band’s ability to stay consistently heavy throughout the song that makes it noteworthy. The nine-minute closer “Shevanel Cut a Flip” foreshadows the band’s ability to craft epic longer songs that never become boring or repetitive. The bass work from Jason King and the Pantera-like guitars make “Shevanel” a worthy and satisfying end.
Between the Buried and Me’s self-titled album is definitely not their best work to date but it is a nice precursor to their newer material. The release is highly original, especially with its many, many changes and expert musicianship, but lacks the staying power of Colors or The Parallax II (which might just be their greatest achievement yet). However, the album still holds its own and contains a lot of great ideas. For any fan of BTBAM, this album is a must-listen, if only for nostalgic value.