Between The Buried And Me & Haken @ Gorilla
Ninety minutes of non-stop abrasive metallic intensity and gunslinging acrobatics
There's no doubt that fans of Between The Buried And Me will not be leaving this show disappointed. Cherry picking their finest, career-spanning works they deliver their set with an aplomb most bands would kill for. Alaska‘s sinuous, synth led Selkies: The Endless Obsession and a ridiculously tight Astral Body from The Parallax II are awash with otherworldly musicianship and a heaviness that had the floor bowing beneath an indulgent crowd.
Tommy Rogers makes for an engaging frontman, orchestrating the crowd into life throughout. And it’s atop their rumbling cheers and buoyant claps that the band mount their assault on top of; Lay Your Ghosts To Rest, also plucked from conceptual epic The Parallax II is nought but punishing, guttural bile.
This is all comes after Haken, joining the American's on this tour of their homeland, had started the night so excellently. There are enough Haken shirts in the crowd tonight to have you believe that the Londoners are the headline act, and they play with a classiness that backs those claims. It’s no surprise that many of prog’s biggest names – including the actual headline band who chose them as ideal tour mates – call themselves fans as fans. See the bewildering brilliance of Pareidolia for a case in point.
Much like Tommy Rogers, they have in their rakes a similarly eye-catching vocalist, Ross Jennings interacting with the crowd throughout, his gaze fixed upon the front row.
Acoustically, the venue may have struggled to give each nuance the pinpoint clarity needed when a band as technically proficient as this is applying their trade here, but it doesn’t stop the twenty-minute opus Crystallised sounding like a glorious lovechild of Yes and Dream Theater.
They were all set up to steal the show, but as soon as the North Carolinian tour de force struck the first note, it was as if the temperature in the room suddenly changed; here you were watching a polished and emphatic live band.
Paul Waggoner, very much their trump card in a band made up exclusively of musical maestros may move like someone foolhardy enough to have looked into the eyes of Medusa, but his aura is still extremely gravitating nonetheless. While he stands stock still – bar the off hair flick – his fingers race across the fretboard performing every single technique in the Shred 101 guide book.
Their new material shows a slightly different band in 2015. Absent are the puncturing death growls, replaced by sizzling falsettos and accompanied by a technicality which is both challenging and instantly capturing. Memory Palace flirts with the tonalities and pomp of classic 70s prog while having a gilt-edged modern demeanour. Famine Wolf meanwhile, which precedes the maze of madness that is Ants In The Sky and an unrelenting White Walls, ends with a classical guitar phrases that is simply unbelievable.
Their ninety minutes of non-stop abrasive metallic intensity and gunslinging acrobatics may be a bit of a hard slog, but, in when all is said and done, it’s a marathon that leaves you in complete awe.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin