Having been reviewing albums for some time now, I’ve found that I’ve become predisposed to certain biases when scrutinizing new music. I’ve developed a general aversion to all of Metal’s impure forms, the proclivity to disregard a band’s technicality in light of poor songwriting (and vice versa), and an itching desire to shit upon any album that I feel gets an undeserved amount of hype. But one thing I haven’t lost the ability to do is to suck up my pride and give credit where I believe credit is most certainly due. The case in point: BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, a band whose distinctive technical flair and occasional ingenuity is far overshadowed by erratic, disorganized arrangements, polluted components, and overall knack for distasteful music. But they pull off one hell of a cover set. "The Anatomy Of" is a varied and ambitious selection of studio covers taken from the band’s myriad of influences and not only is the tracklist astounding, but the band really transcend themselves in doing these tracks justice.
The genres the selections are taken from range from Metal to Hardcore to Classic Rock to Alternative to Prog. Kicking things off is an almost-obligatory METALLICA cover. But not just any METALLICA cover, they’re performing the mighty “Blackened.” Not an easy song to play by any means, but aside from the growled vocals, downtuned guitars, and occasional drum extravagancies, they do it like they wrote it. All initial biases against these guys were wiped away after that one, but then track two is a totally different ballgame. “Kickstart my Heart,” complete with clean vocals and the gang chorus, is one of about half the songs on here that BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME undeniably nail with hardly any modern interpretation. They even do the talkbox tomfoolery at the end. And then for track three another huge stylistic jump, this time to “The Day I Tried To Live.” Masterfully done, though the growled vocals in the chorus bother me, just as they do on the other songs where they show up. But again, just the fact that they would do a song like this on the same cover album as “Blackened” is impressive, to me at least.
But these are nothing from the songs that appear in the meat of the album. If there is one song that you wouldn’t expect to be covered on here, the QUEEN classic “Bicycle Race.” And yet here it is; beautifully arranged and impressively true to the original. Not a chance they can top this one, I’m thinking, but then the next track fades in and it dawns on me. Holy shit, they’re covering KING CRIMSON. Okay, granted it’s from their 80's material, but covering that band is virtually unheard of. And once again, they play it to the T. This is followed by a fairly epic rendition of “Us and Them,” again beautifully done. It’s a shame the band’s original material doesn’t borrow enough from their influences, as they certainly have the talent to pull off some fantastic stuff.
The next chunk of the album is less memorable, consisting of some more well-done covers of BLIND MELON, EARTH CRISIS, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, and mid-period SEPULTURA. Generally, the more clean vocals used the better. But the album reaches climax one final time just before its conclusion (some versions have a COUNTING CROWS song as a bonus) with the band’s majestic interpretation of the classic “Cemetery Gates.” Their vocalist shows his weakness during the chorus (the outro vocals are particularly horrendous), but otherwise the instrumentation is damn good. Great way to end a strong album.
Suffice it to say, I found myself quite impressed with this band, whom I previously thought little of. But it’s still a covers album, meaning the originals are far better offerings. Fans of the band, I encourage you to pick this up anyway and expand your horizons a bit. Everyone else, you might just be inclined to give them the same acknowledgment that I have.
(Online January 7, 2008)