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Music / Between the Buried and Me

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Left to right: Dustie Waring, Paul Waggoner, Tommy Giles Rogers, Dan Briggs, Blake Richardson

"Over and over
Day in, day out
Monotonous drought
We didn't live, we only existed"
"Revolution in Limbo"

Between the Buried and Me are a Progressive Death Metal / Metalcore band from North Carolina. While their early sound was primarily that of a contemporary death metal band, their output became increasingly multidimensional with time until the landmark album Colors introduced their now-trademark eclectic sound and complex songwriting.

The band consists of Tommy Rogers on vocals and keyboards, Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring on guitars, Dan Briggs on bass and Blake Richardson on drums.



  • Between the Buried and Me (2002)
  • The Silent Circus (2003)
  • Alaska (2005)
  • The Anatomy Of (2006)
  • Colors (2007)
  • The Great Misdirect (2009)
  • The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues (2011)
  • The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
  • Coma Ecliptic (2015)
  • Automata Part I (2018)
  • Automata Part II (2018)
  • Colors II (2021)

This is all we have! When we trope! It's what's left of us! When we trope!

  • Alliterative Title:
    • The Silent Circus
    • "Option Oblivion"
    • "The Black Box,"
    • "Extremophile Elite."
  • Adventures in Comaland: Coma Ecliptic
  • Album Title Drop:
    • In "Obfuscation": "We will always be part of the great misdirect...stepping in and stepping out."
    • In "Foam Born": "It's a must these days, for the colors are fading."
  • All There in the Manual: Some releases of The Silent Circus have liner notes explaining the concepts behind the lyrics.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Night Owls. Indeed we work from here, we have for centuries...
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  • Apocalypse How: The Parallax II ends with Prospect 2 activating the Black Box and destroying the world.
  • Arc Words: "Goodbye to everything", "I see all, I hear all", and "Was I ever really alive?" on The Parallax II.
    • "Velvet" and "gold" in Coma Ecliptic.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Black Box, which appears to be some sort of planet destroying superweapon.
  • Badass Boast: Strigiformes (supposedly the collective mind or the leader of the Night Owls) makes this towards humanity, going so far as to say that he was created by alien gods and is a necessity for the existence of all life. Then he goes on to call humanity nothing more than an experiment and humans "fucking weaklings".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The ending of The Parallax II: Future Sequence.
  • Big Bad: The Night Owls for the Parallax albums.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Coma Ecliptic ends with the protagonist waking up in the real world and realizing its beauty, but he dies from being in a coma for most of his life.
  • Book Ends: "Goodbye to Everything" and its reprise off of Future Sequence. Also counts as How We Got Here.
    • Colors begins and ends with a piano piece.
  • Breather Episode: Starting with The Silent Circus, most of their albums have at least one of these, and usually quite a few more.
  • Concept Album: The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and The Parallax II: Future Sequence make up two parts of a very confusing Concept Album. This may help you understand it somewhat better. Note that more than half of The Great Misdirect by running time ("Disease, Injury, Madness", "Fossil Genera: A Feed from Cloud Mountain", "Swim to the Moon") also ties in directly with The Parallax storyline, as do "Lost Perfection" from The Silent Circus and "Prequel to the Sequel" from Colors.
    • Coma Ecliptic is about a man in a coma who relives his past lives. Or something like that.
    • Automata is one, too, about a company that steals the dreams of its protagonist and sells them as entertainment.
  • Cover Album: The Anatomy Of.
  • Distinct Double Album: Averted with Automata, as it is instead a staggered release that forms a cohesive whole à la Mesmerize/Hypnotize. It's still arguably a Zig-Zagged or downplayed example, since the only gap in its entire running time occurs between its two halves, and the second half is noticeably darker in musical tone and more experimental than the first, but the difference isn’t extreme.
  • Downer Ending: The Parallax storyline ends in this when Prospect 2 goes crazy (after being manipulated by the Night Owls) and activates the Black Box, killing off humanity and allowing the Night Owls to succeed. Goodbye to Everything. However, see Ominous Message from the Future below.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Or rather Coma Within a Coma.
  • Driven to Suicide: Prospect 2 by the end of The Parallax II. Also, Prospect 1 in his introductory song "Swim to the Moon". He fails.
    • The protagonist of Coma Ecliptic in "Option Oblivion." This is what causes him to wake up from his Coma Within a Coma.
  • Epic Rocking: Very frequent from Colors onward, with the top four prizes taken by album finales "Swim to the Moon" (nearly 18 minutes), "Silent Flight Parliament" and "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)" (both about 15 minutes), and "White Walls" (about 14). Gets even more mind-boggling if you consider that most of the songs on their recent albums segue continuously into one another and the track divisions often seem almost arbitrary. They have actually performed Colors in its entirety and released it as a live album. The entire thing is close to sixty-six minutes of continuous performance.
  • Fading into the Next Song: literally every track division on Colors, The Great Misdirect, and both Parallax and both Automata records, plus almost all of The Silent Circus, Alaska, and Coma Ecliptic, as well as a couple of transitions on the self-titled. Arguably in many cases these qualify as examples of Siamese Twin Songs as well, particularly since the band often performs some of these records in their entirety.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Genre-Busting: Although they fit cleanly within the Progressive Metal genre, they probably incorporate a more diverse range of influences than a typical prog metal band.
  • Genre Roulette: There is no telling what genres a given song of theirs will dip into. Two of the most famous examples are the polka break in "Prequel to the Sequel" and the hoedown in "Ants of the Sky". The Anatomy Of is also a particularly noteworthy example because the band covers songs from a wide variety of genres and stays largely faithful to the original arrangements (some songs that didn't have Harsh Vocals in the original versions do in BTBAM's versions, though).
  • Harsh Vocals: As expected from a Progressive Death Metal band. Not used exclusively, though.
  • Heavy Meta:
    • "White Walls" was an examination of who they were as a band at the time and stated their desire to break out of the metalcore genre and escape being pigeonholed, as well as a message to the older fans who didn't want them to grow as a band and just wanted another strictly heavy album.
    • "Ad a dglgmut" is a dedication to "noise", which can include anything in nature, as well as heavy music, which can seem like noise to the uninitiated but can become beautiful after enough listening.
    • "Aesthetic" is about the musicians on the Titanic, who kept playing as the ship sunk; Tommy Giles Rogers has commented that he can't think of a more profound dedication to music. It's also dedicated to the band's fans and an examination of the band's own passion for music.
  • The Hero Dies: Both protagonists of The Parallax II and the protagonist of Coma Ecliptic.
  • Hidden Track: "The Man Land" at the end of The Silent Circus. It's assumed by many that they recorded it when they were drunk. VERY DRUNK.
  • Hotter and Sexier/Sex Sells: "Camilla Rhodes" is about the tendency of the music industry to use these tropes. The band aren't too thrilled with it.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Par for the course when a band uses Harsh Vocals, though it's arguably somewhat more pronounced on the old material. Rogers' clean singing is usually enunciated clearly, though.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Melting City" ends with electronic creaking sounds which transition into "Silent Flight Parliment."
  • Lighter and Softer: Coma Ecliptic. Fans are divided on whether the change was a good idea.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • Between the Buried and Me ends with "Shevanel Cut a Flip" (9:27).
    • The Silent Circus ends with "The Need for Repetition" (13:37), although subverted in that only 6:17 of this is the song proper; a Hidden Track called "The Man Land" starts at 11:14 into the song. If we discount the hidden track, "Ad a dglgmut" (7:38) is longer.
    • Colors ends with "White Walls" (14:13).
    • The Great Misdirect ends with "Swim to the Moon" (17:54).
    • Automata I ends with "Blot" (10:27).
    • Colors II ends with "Human Is Hell (Another One with Love)" (15:07).
  • Long Runner Lineup: While they were a Revolving Door Band in their early years, the lineup hasn't changed since 2005.
  • Loudness War: Unfortunately, most of their releases are brickwalled pretty badly, and they often clip in the loud segments. However, they remixed The Great Misdirect in 2019 and their first four albums in 2020, and all of these clip a lot less than the original versions and have better dynamic range, in addition to having a better bass sound.
  • Metalcore: Most prominently on their first three albums, but still an influence on later material. Could also be considered Mathcore due to the band's frequent use of Uncommon Time.
  • Mind Screw: Their album catalog is filled with this. Prime example is looking at the concept of "The Parallax", which stretches all the way to "The Silent Circus".
  • Mood Whiplash: Plentiful on all their releases.
  • Myth Arc: The Parallax storyline, which started long before the actual Parallax albums came out. Depending on your interpretation of the meanings of some songs, it may have started as far back as the The Silent Circus, but it was definitely underway by the time of The Great Misdirect, which really kicks the story off with "Swim to the Moon".
  • New Sound Album: Several.
    • Alaska was where they shed most of their metalcore elements and went for a more eclectic, progressive sound.
    • Colors completed the transition to full-on Progressive Metal.
    • Coma Ecliptic significantly dialed down the metal elements and went for a much more heavily progressive rock and AOR-influenced style.
    • The Automata records are significantly heavier than Coma Ecliptic, but probably not as heavy as some of the earlier releases.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: The live version of Future Sequence has this as a Framing Device: it's presented as a warning to humanity: "To those who hear this transmission, please understand we did this to ourselves. Humans. We are the program; we are the disaster. This is our end, and life as we know it will never speak the same." However, it also states, "If this transmission is received, there is hope. Mold this hope towards change." Arguably this takes the whole story out of Downer Ending territory into (still very dark) Bittersweet Ending territory.
  • Ominous Owl: The Night Owls, of course. They're an Ancient Conspiracy of alien robots who apparently destroy planets for fun.
  • One-Word Title:
    • Alaska
    • Colors
  • Pedophile Priest: "The Need for Repetition" is a furious attack on them.
  • Physical God: The Protagonist in the video for "Astral Body".
  • Precision F-Strike: In "Silent Flight Parliament", from the album's Big Bad no less.
  • Technical Death Metal: Progressive Death Metal / Progressive Metal: Especially from Colors onward, but Alaska qualifies too; while The Silent Circus was still mostly mathcore, songs like "Mordecai" hinted at what they'd become.
  • Protest Song: "Destructo Spin" is a protest against the wars going on at the time and the George W. Bush administration generally. The song's ending also addresses how political issues can feel confusing due to their complexity, particularly if one doesn't keep up with them.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Arsonist" is a furious tirade against the Westboro Baptist Church, while "The Need for Repetition" is an equally furious response to the Catholic Church's child molestation scandal.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Telos" for Prospect 2.
  • Scare Chord: The transition from "Breathe In, Breathe Out" into "Roboturner" on Alaska WILL cause your spine to go three inches out of alignment at the proper volume.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: The Alaska song "Selkies: The Endless Obsession".
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Most of their songs starting with Colors.
  • Song Style Shift: They do this a lot, with "Shevanel Cut a Flip" on the first album being an early, prominent example (it starts in the typical metalcore territory of the band's early work, and ends up in progressive rock territory).
  • Soprano and Gravel: Tommy Giles Rogers' vocals are typically about half death growls and half clean singing.
  • Spiritual Successor: They're regarded as USA's answer to Opeth.
  • Subdued Section: Practically Once a Song on recent releases. Earlier releases had these sometimes as well. Some famous early examples are the "It's raining" part of "Backwards Marathon", the ending of "Shevanel Cut a Flip", and the second half of "Mordecai".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Desert of Song", "Viridian", "Medicine Wheel", "Laser Speed", several of the interludes on The Parallax II, "Goodbye to Everything" and its reprise, possibly others
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Exaggerated in "Fix the Error", where the protagonist finally reaches the breaking point with his terrible, abusive job, quits, and proceeds to go on a campaign to destroy the entire company.
  • Titled After the Song: The name of the band comes from a line in "Ghost Train" by Counting Crows.
  • Uncommon Time: Hoo boy! Lots of it!
    • Some examples on the trope page include the 13/8 verses of "Selkies: The Endless Obsession", the 5/4 polka section in "Prequel to the Sequel", and the 24.5/4 ([3+4+2+2.5+3+4+2+4]/4) main riff of "White Walls", but as the page itself notes, these are nowhere near exhaustive (indeed, "White Walls" usually changes meter signatures at least once a minute). It would probably be more concise to list their songs that don't use this trope.
  • Word Purée Title: "Ad a dglgmut". This actually relates to the theme of the song.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: While the lyrics offer deep social commentary in many cases, they are increasingly cryptic and confusing in recent material.