Between The Buried And Me

support Haken
author AP date 03/10/15 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Quite the proggy weekend this, on the Copenhagen gig circuit: Leprous had just been in town the day prior, and tonight one of the most celebrated contemporary representatives of progressive metal were to showcase their tradecraft and - hopefully - arouse a magical Saturday evening for the nerdiest, most demanding segment of the Danish metal community: the prog professors. There we stood among these respectable gentlemen and women in unison, high in spirit and anticipation for what had all the potential to go down as one of the most crucial concert experiences in 2015. And did it? Read on to find out.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Haken

By all measures, the international joint venture that is Haken represents the very epitome of contemporary prog, all headless eight string guitars, free jazz infusions and smug expressions. The American, British and Mexican six piece is also the perfect choice of support for a band as eclectic and forward thinking as Between the Buried and Me, it turns out, as the minutes tick in and the wealth of song writing ideas at play begins to unfold. Not too similar to the 'Buried, yet also not that distant in terms of style, Haken draw their inspiration from multiple corners of progressive and experimental genres both classic and modern, lacing their solos with retrospective bittersweetness and peppering their intermezzos with strange vocalisations, jazzy improvisations and atypical percussion. This stuff nods as much toward King Conquer as it does to Animals as Leaders, the latter coming across with particular strength in "Pareidolia", where some of the guitar shredding wizardry sounds downright unreal (think the perplexing lead riff of Animals as Leaders' brilliant "CAFO" for a good reference); the former in the subsequent "Cockroach King", which breaks into a "21st Century Schizoid"-man style jam near the end.

Haken play with the self-satisfied demeanour of musicians who know their skills are envied by many an aspiring guitarist, bassist, drummer or keyboard-wiz in the crowd tonight - not in a repulsive way, but in a way that makes it all look so easy. As a result there is a certain cool to the way guitarists Richard Henshall & Charles Griffiths, bassist Conner Green, keyboardist and keytarist Diego Tejeida, and drummer Raymond Hearne carry themselves; the only thing holding Haken back somewhat being vocalist Ross Jennings. Not that the man can't sing - it's just that his classically oriented style never reaches the same pinnacles as does the music beneath. What he lacks in musicianship, however, he attempts to compensate for with an jovial and energetic stage presence that makes his colleagues (bar the constantly grinning Tejeida) look a little grumpy. As the set winds to a close via the brilliant acapella of "Crystallised"'s ending then, it is impossible not heap praise on this discovery of a prog band. If Haken still sounds like an unfamiliar name, it is time to hop on the bandwagon and start digging their recorded output.

Between The Buried And Me

It must be easy. Even on an off-day such as tonight turns out to be for Between the Buried and Me, the sheer brilliance of these progressive metal virtuosos' music and the razor's edge sharpness with which it is delivered every time, have the power to woo and mesmerise the audience without any significant performance aid by the five musicians. Be it the pitch perfect rendition of vocals or the tears-of-joy-inducing solo mastery in opening track "Selkies: The Endless Obsession", or the clever time signature arrangements of the towering "Coma Machine", the 'Buried have tonight's nearly sold out venue in their palms, each crowd member sporting a more flabbergasted expression than the next at the noodling torrents of riffs and melodies erupting from Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring's guitars - limited, in contrast with Haken, to a modest six strings each.

Lacking the energy of past performances though they may be, all of the five members nonetheless wind their mouths into grateful and enthusiastic grins, and both Waggoner and bassist Dan Briggs even bust out a number of well placed moves and poses. Frontman Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. thankfully is a little more active, reverting to his usual dominant self in the band's heavier takes à la "Astral Body" to hover over the front of the audience and gesticulating like a man possessed. Still, in the dying embers of that track it has become resoundingly obvious that tonight, it is in the music itself that virtually all of the benefits must be reaped. And all the better for it that the setlist includes the magnificent "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest" and one of the latest masterpieces to be assembled in the 'Buried's laboratory: "Memory Palace". The latter in particular elicits the first sing-songs along to its unforgettable chorus, "Chatter has left a statue grown with intentions from my own".

But as thick as the evening is with excellent and varied songs (like the 'Buried have written anything else since 2005's "Alaska"...), one cannot help but feel a little disappointed when it all winds to a conclusion. Having 'just' (a relative term, given the colossal length of most of these tracks) delivered a hammerblow with the crushing "Famine Wolf" and then evoked bittersweet nostalgia in us all with the ingeniously complex "Ants of the Sky", "Canon in D"-inspired neoclassical solo and all, the decision to occupy the encore with an incomplete cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes across like a slap in the face. Like the 'Buried just cannot be arsed to embark on the epic journey that is fan favourite "White Walls". But if that is the case - we can all sympathise with touring fatigue - then why not dig a bit deeper in the treasure chest and dust off one of the more explosive older songs like... well, "The Primer", which has yet to be aired live in any concert I've had the privilege to attend? "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a cop-out: people are subliminally programmed to sing its words, but isn't it a pretty anticlimatic way to end your own show with a cover - and not even the full version of the song in question?

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Selkies: The Endless Obsession
  • 02. The Coma Machine
  • 03. Astral Body
  • 04. Lay Your Ghosts to Rest
  • 05. Memory Palace
  • 06. Famine Wolf
  • 07. Ants of the Sky

--Encore--

  • 08. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.