Between The Buried And Me

support Animals As Leaders
author AP date 20/09/11 venue Underworld, London, UK

Every now and then tours come to Europe that erase the question of money; tours that I would travel far and wide to see. Despite having critical funds, it was thus with determination that I ordered the cheapest flights that I could find to London and back, at the most ungodly hours, to witness one of my alltime favorite bands live once again.

Animals As Leaders

Animals as Leaders are here tonight as a three piece, consisting of riff master general Tosin Abasi, rhythm guitarist Javier Reyes, and drummer Navene Koperweis. The absence of vocals is something that I find myself unable to accustom to at first - Animals as Leaders is the fully instrumental solo project of guitar virtuoso Tosin Abasi - but the intricate progressive metal arrangements quickly beat my ears to submission, and I find myself thoroughly enjoying the likes of "Isolated Incidents" and "CAFO". Perhaps it's the prominent element of groove present in the mix, this being part of the djent movement after all, or the sheer skill with with Abasi treats his instrument; the lack of any show whatsoever at times becomes entirely acceptable. At other times, however, it becomes the opposite, and although Animals as Leaders only have eight or so songs planned for the night, their length and lack of meaningful hooks eventually does get a little tiring. This is because apart from a select few songs, the music of Animals as Leaders, as complex and impressive as it may be, is actually quite one-dimensional and so perhaps not well aligned for the live setting.

Between The Buried And Me

Ever since its release, I've been looking forward to one day seeing the entirety of "Colors" performed live front to back. Turns out that on the second night of this double concert this is exactly what happened but alas, it sold out long before rumors about the setlist began circulating. Instead, NB and myself managed to secure tickets to the first night, on which a more varied selection of songs was provided across one-and-a-half hours. Make no mistake, the setlist is still more than satisfactory, comprising songs from the band's four latest releases: all of "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues", two from "The Great Misdirect", three from "Colors" and one from "Alaska". But it does hurt to then find out what we'd missed out on on the second night.

It is always difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes a Between the Buried and Me show so enticing; after all, there is little by way of movement on stage except during the less intricate moments in songs like "Specular Reflection", "Augment of Rebirth" and "Disease, Injury, Madness". But in stark contrast to other bands that prefer merely to remain still whilst playing their songs, Between the Buried and Me do it with such spaced out conviction that it's hard not to be taken aback. It's as though Paul Waggoner, Dustie Waring and Dan Briggs become immersed in a trance as they wind through the cataclysmically complex arrangements with almost condescending effortlessness; while vocalist Thomas Giles Rogers lunges at the crowd clutching an invisible stone in imposing maneuvers. Despite not being the biggest guy in the pack, on stage he transforms into a behemoth when the music demands it. But at the same time, he has a fantastic situational awareness and retreats back to his keyboard during the countless solos, bridges and interludes that dot the band's music so as to bring Waggoner, Waring and Briggs into the spotlight.

The trio is particularly sharp during the finale, which consists of the last three songs from "Colors", "Prequel to the Sequel", "Viridian" and the monumental "White Walls", and the crowd follows suite, lost in euphoria. Until the beginning of this conclusion to the evening, the band have taken shockingly few breathing breaks, and so to perform these three songs amounting to some 25 minutes without a pause, and seemingly without showing any fatigue, is a feat in its own right. As the band steps off stage amid thundering demands for more, it is abundantly clear that Between the Buried and Me truly are an extraordinary band. But, as it appears, still not too tired to return for an encore consisting of their interpretation of Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as well as the fan-adored "Selkies: the Endless Obsession". The latter brings the night to a grand conclusion, and there is a mutual understanding in the venue that we have just watched an exceptional performance by one of the greatest metal bands of the decade. As such, my criticisms are sparse: Rogers is perhaps not in the best shape vocally tonight, but where he misses the high notes he compensates with passion. Had the band decided to extend the show to two hours and also include material from the first two albums, "Between the Buried and Me" and "The Silent Circus", this might have been an almost perfect performance. Still, even in its actual format it comes alarmingly close.


  • 01. Specular Reflection
  • 02. Augment of Rebirth
  • 03. Mirrors
  • 04. Obfuscation
  • 05. Disease, Injury, Madness
  • 06. Prequel to the Sequel
  • 07. Viridian
  • 08. White Walls


  • 09. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)
  • 10. Selkies: the Endless Obsession

Photos courtesy of Fabiola Santini ©

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