The audience at the PlayStation Theater was eagerly awaiting Between the Buried and Me, who were set to be the direct support for headliner Devin Townsend Project during their “Transcending The Coma Tour” on September 16th.
Between the Buried and Me was formed in North Carolina in 2000 by lead vocalist Tommy Giles Rogers and rhythm guitarrist Paul Waggoner. The band released its first self titled record in 2002 and the follow-up Silent Circus was quickly released the next year. Through multiple lineup changes, they now stand as Tommy Giles Rogers (lead vocals), Paul Waggoner (lead rhythm guitarist), Dustie Waring (lead guitar), Blake Richardson (drums),and Dan Briggs (bass). Within the next 10 years they would go on to record 5 more albums, continually evolving and experimenting with each offering. Their earlier metalcore and technical death metal sound began to give way to a more progressive style, experimenting with different sounds and ambience. Their latest release titled Coma Ecliptic was released on July 10th, 2015 via Metal Blade Records.
Coma Ecliptic was released to positive reviews and features haunting melodies that are not only showing of their growth as musicians but also of Rogers as a vocalist. Coma Ecliptic is certainly reflecting of this new direction and is the band’s most mature and best produced record to date. While the band continues to expand its sound, more clean vocals find their way into songs, all the while keeping their musical arrangement dark and brutal enough to satisfy older fans. Coma Ecliptic is one of those rare conceptual tour de force records requiring repetitive listening to fully appreciate all the compositional and instrumental richness.
Lucky for fans, prior to embarking on the “Transcending the Coma Tour”, Between the Buried and Me announced they would be playing Coma Ecliptic in its entirety while on tour.
During the show, the stage looked reminiscent of a dark theatrical setup with only an overhead spotlight focusing on the Rogers. For a few moments, he reminded me of Jim Morrison. Once the band began a dramatic, anthem like build up of “The Coma Machine”, it was clear — I’m in 2016. The opening minutes quickly reassured us that we were in for a progressive spectacle.
As expected the band kicked things off with “Node.” Rogers took central spot behind the keyboards. The synthesized sound of “Dim Ignition” brought the audience yet to another coma inside the coma.. inside the coma. Leading into one of my personal favorites on the record, “Famine Wolf” was flawlessly executed live with all its turns and bends. The audience had no problem following wild endless changes, equally enjoying brutal explosiveness along with the slower more spacious moments. The band remained sharp and focused while the sonic and dynamic roller-coaster ride continued throughout the rest of the set. Coma Ecliptic presented enough opportunity and material to highlight everyone’s instrumental abilities in a little over an hour.
As a guitar player myself, I always look forward to those little sights of guitar goodness; turning on the darkness emphasized the multidimensional guitar playing of Paul Waggoner. The very enjoyable, relaxed bluesy-fusion solo is one of those moments giving the whole record a lot of breathing space. “Memory Place” is another great example. After numerous changes, opening driving guitar and a Hammond organ riff returns to morph into hanging in the air à-la-floyd guitar solo. I loved it.
Between the Buried and Me’s numerous influences are noticeable on the record, but it is interestingly shown without loosing any of their identity. Catching those moments in concert actually made the experience more enjoyable. After the last note of “Life in Velvet”, the closing track off of the record, the audience immediately exploded into a “one more song” chant. Sadly, this wasn’t meant to happen as Coma Ecliptic was simply done and DTP was up next.
If you’re planning to see Between the Buried and Me live, I would highly recommend putting the album on heavy spin prior to the show. Coma Ecliptic live will be filmed on October 4th in San Diego. If you want to be a part of it, check out the band’s website for more details.
Devin Townsend arrived on the rock scene in 1993 joining VAI, Steve Vai’s rock group for the Sex & Religion album. Between 1994 and 2007 he contributed greatly to the extreme metal scene with Strapping Young Lad. His first formation which contained elements of various styles, from death, thrash to progressive and industrial metal. HevyDevy as he is also known, spent most of the 2000’s pushing forward his creative vision with various solo and group records. Over 20 years and some 30 records since his debut, Devin is widely regarded as a creative genius, with a dark, quirky sense of humor and known for his eccentric personality.
Transcendence is his newest release, and makes it his 7th release under the Devin Townsend Project moniker. Like previous DTP releases, Transcendence is a grand bombastic noise and peculiar ambiance. To my personal delight, the record contains some of the Devin’s fanciest guitar work to date.
With such an extensive catalog, one could expect the set list to be a mixed bag of everything. The show started with a couple of older classics such as “Night” off the first solo album Ocean Machine (1997), followed with “By Your Command” from Ziltoid the Omniscient (2007). Devin’s big infectious smile radiated from the stage. From the very start, his larger then life personality filled the crowded PlayStation Theater.
Shortly after, the band moved on to “Failure”, a single off of Transcendence. The exquisite guitar solo from the track should lend itself as a go to guide for sensual wah wah pedal application. The set continued with “Rejoice”, “Hyperdrive” and then “Stormbending” with no-nonsense two hand tapping break by guitarist Dave Young, followed by another great lead by Devin himself.
Between the songs HevyDevy kept fans engaged with jokes he is well known for. “Were We Belong” slowed things down a bit to allow the audience to recharge for the next two tracks, both off of Ziltoid, a conceptual comedy/progressive rock/opera released in 2014. It is perhaps the ultimate testament to Devins’s both, musical, and comical genius. The “Ziltoid” rhythm section of Ryan Van Poederooyen drums and Brian Waddell’s bass pumped some massive madman’s polka rhythms. Then it continued with a big groove in “March of the Poozers”, which of course, included Devin’s now famous falsetto around the 1:30 mark.
Devin used his two signature Framus guitars throughout the night, both of which are absolutely beautiful instruments, with fancy inlay lights. What’s most important is the great huge sound in the open C. After “Kingdom” off the Epicloud record, he switched to an acoustic guitar. However, before continuing with a stripped down version of “Ih-ah”, a couple of things happened.
The comical Devin proceeded to smell his own armpit and openly disapproved the effectiveness of his deodorant. He made the crowd laugh further by performing the “most Vancouver impersonation of somebody from NY” with a, “Hey! I’m talking here!” This of course in reference to him being from Canada. We then learned that front row fans Karren and Andy, would be having “Ih-ah” at their wedding. Great choice kids!Hopefully their life together will be as bombastic, majestic, explosive, over-the-top, transcendental, funny and creative as tonight’s setlist. Well, actually forget about the explosive part.
Following the lovely singalong with the audience, Devin invited back the rest of the band. “The grossly underpaid and incredibly overworked DTP” ended the show with “Higher” off the new record.
The north American tour which also includes progressive metal band Fallujah will continue until October 15, wrapping up in Vancouver, Canada.
The “Transcending the Coma Tour” will later resume in Europe on January 28th and continue until March. There, Devin Townsend Project and Between the Buried and Me will be joined by Norwegian progressive metalers Leprous.
Between the Buried and Me:
Devin Townsend Project: