Between the Buried and Me - Corner Hotel, Melbourne, 16/11/12

A roller-coaster of genre blends delivered heavy and harmonic.

Friday night, the Corner Hotel in Richmond played host to a swarm of progressive hardcore metal fans keen to see the musical talents of Between the Buried and Me, and Animals as Leaders

The evening started out with local band In Trenches, who managed to pull a decent crowd for their short set. Despite a mild crowd reaction given the early time of the evening, In Trenches provided a concrete wall of distorted hardcore sludge. The dissonant intensity flowed over the crowd, setting the stage for an evening of unconstrained metal.

The crowd levels thickened considerably as the soundcheck for Animals As Leaders started behind the drawn red curtains. Attentive before the instrumental band had even entered the stage, one crowd member was heard yelling: “What are you checking the mics for? They don’t bloody sing you idiots!” But when they did start playing it was clear why this band requires no vocalist. The dual guitars blended harmonically with the complex drumming creating a journey of sound with no need for lyrics to carry the tale.

During the song Weightless, the title track from their last album, I looked around and viewed a transfixed crowd. The heads of the people surrounding me pecked forwards in time with the music, eyes gazing forward and minds fixated with the jazz driven guitar licks of Tosin Abasi. From the passionate reaction of the crowd, it seems that almost as many people turned up to see the live magic of these three musicians as did for the headliner. 

Not that Between the Buried and Me disappointed in any way. The dynamic live performance of this band would have the crowd singing along one minute, and cracking their necks moshing the next. The band, who hail from North Carolina, kept the energy up and the mood elevated throughout the hour and a half set, covering a range of songs from their most recent album The Parallax II: Future Sequence as well as many crowd favourites such as Sun of Nothing. Many of the audience were identifying songs in the first few notes and yelling out their approval before losing themselves in the music. 

Each song carried the audience through a rollercoaster of emotions and tempos, balancing the intricate riffs of lead guitarist Paul Waggoner over the soundscape with the vocals of Tommy Giles Rogers. It is increasingly rare to find a vocalist of a metal band playing anything but a guitar or bass, but Rogers vocals entranced the audience whether from the front of the stage or from behind his keyboard. Given the packed venue, and my short stature, I could see very little of the band for much of the performance, but I could see the glee of the members of the crowd near to me. One group of friends were enthusiastically singing every lyric to every song, while a girl nearby danced lost in the music.

Departing briefly from the stage, BTBAM returned to start their encore with a Queen cover, before firing the audience up one more time with a final song in their addictive hardcore/progressive mix of metal. When the lights came up and the audience slowly began to disperse, it was evident that next time this line-up comes to Melbourne the welcome will be just as loud.