It's not easy to follow up a masterpiece. In 2007, North Carolina progressive metal crew Between the Buried and Me unleashed Colors, which was one of the finest moments in the genre's history: a whirling melee of melody and aggression; beauty and brutality. Two short years later, metal's most challenging band have come to pick our brains once more with the six-track, hour-long odyssey that is The Great Misdirect.
The fear that BTBAM have settled into a formula rears its head during the first track, "Mirrors," which is an entirely cleanly sung, melodic song, not unlike "Foam Born: The Backtrack" from Colors. The approach is completely different however, and when the band launches into the ten-minute lead single "Obfuscation" all trepidation disappears. Angst-ridden verses weave in and out of melodic guitar leads and keyboard histrionics and help build to some well-placed gang vocals and a shredding guitar solo at the song's climax.
The album wears on in typically spectacular BTBAM fashion with plenty of metal and plenty of curveballs until we come to "Desert of Song," which is by far the most unique song the band has ever done. It's begins as an American folk song that wouldn't sound out of place if Woody Guthrie made a guest appearance from beyond the grave and evolves into a mellow Pink Floyd number, complete with a melodic Gilmour-esque solo. Despite its strangeness, the song still has a very Between the Buried and Me vibe about it. It's worth it to hear the record for this song alone.
The album closes on an appropriately epic note with the most ambitious (and longest) BTBAM song yet, "Swim to the Moon". It would be redundant for me to tell you how epic and fantastic it is. Needless to say, they haven't lost even half a step since Colors. It's prog nerd metal at its finest, and as an archetypical prog nerd, I feel safe saying that BTBAM is becoming one of my favorite bands. Don't miss this.