It was twenty years ago Between the Buried and Me brought their explosive sonic idiom into the world, releasing albums with ambitious and skillful song arrangements and demanding the listener take a journey into extremely heavy and melodic terrains. To celebrate this significant milestone the North Carolina quintet announced a worldwide tour including a visit to Australia. The last ten years has especially seen a plethora of progressive metal bands tour Australia fostering a loyal fanbase that turn up to support these riveting shows and tantalizing performances. Thursday night Sydney siders packed in the Factory Theatre to witness a band who are no strangers to playing down under.
Support act The Omnific started the night with some throbbing bass lines and instrumental passages that went down the spine of your neck. The Melbournian progressive trio set the right tone and ambience for the night as punters came in with their beers and heavy metal t-shirts. To mark twenty years of Between the Buried and Me’s outpouring of pulsating creativity, the show was comprised of two sets touching on the band’s entire discography. To start proceedings was the grand scale opening of composition “Astral Body” with its time signature changing madness and frontman Tommy Giles Rogers Jr’s gnarly growling suspending the audience into a transfixed state.
The band’s cannon of seminal work channels music from King Crimson, Mr Bungle and Meshuggah to the great gypsy and jazz fusion guitarists such as Django Reinhardt and Al Di Meola. The latter is true on the song “Voice of Trespass” played towards the end of the second set which switches gears from gypsy jazz to metalcore effortlessly and is even more impressive when achieved live on stage. The crowd up front jumped and got into a frenzy on a few occasions creating an ominous atmosphere whilst the people at the back just stood and occasionally nodded their heads singing along to a few cleaner vocal choruses.
The intimate atmosphere of a club like this produced a glimpse into the band’s humble beginnings and during the last twenty years they’ve grown into a solid unit that doesn’t set limitations on their art, reminiscent of many of the great art rock and early pioneering metal outfits. Tommy acknowledged how fucking awesome it was to have a crowd of a few hundred people come to see them play live, it is a testament to their longevity and for staying consistently true to the music they collectively aim to compose. Their Sydney devotees of course got their encore of three more songs finishing with the colossal fourteen-minute composition “White Walls”.
The rise of the progressive metal movement in Australia is partly the reason why so many great international progressive bands are touring this country. Contemporary progressive music is a diverse sound palette ranging from djent, metalcore, post-punk, shoegaze, jazz fusion and psychedelic rock. Between the Buried and Me are a culmination of many of these styles and they’ve cemented a lasting legacy in the modern pantheon of an ever expanding and evolving progressive metal culture.