Live Review: Between The Buried & Me, Chon, Weightless In Orbit

29 February 2016 | 2:26 pm | Tom Peasley

"There's rarely movement of any kind except picking one's jaw back up from the floor."

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From the get-go Weightless In Orbit have their influences on full display. There's some serious Between The Buried & Me, Animals As Leaders and some sprinkles of Tool all thrown into what is a solid opener.

San Diego's Chon stroll onto the stage so casually that it's almost as if they're not excited or happy to be performing, a lack of enthusiasm mirrored by yours truly. The instrumental math-metal outfit churn through a set packed full of syncopation, countermelodies, finger-tapping and obscure chord voicings, leaving no doubt that these guys have crazy amounts of skill, but they seem to think music is a competition of some kind. Yes, they are very technically proficient, but when the whole aim of the set is to simply be complicated and possess no musical idiosyncrasies, the whole display ends up having the soul and emotion of a cinderblock and can be painfully tedious as a result. This is a perfect example of how being accomplished at an instrument simply can't replace being a good songwriter. If anyone out there came specifically to catch these guys, there's grass growing somewhere that you can watch for a smaller fee.

Shadowed by a giant ghostly figure on the backdrop, Canadian prog-metal giants Between The Buried & Me take the stage and erupt into the unmistakeable dramatic opening of Coma Ecliptic, Node as the crowd bop their collective heads in a precision display. The setlist features gems from most albums, including Telos, Obfuscation, Dim Ignition and (probably to give the band a break) Foam Born: The Backtrack, ensuring that fans both new and old are catered for. Crowd-wise, a BTBAM show is a metal gig of a different kind; there's no pit, no swinging arms, no violence, hell, there's rarely movement of any kind except picking one's jaw back up from the floor. It's a set of an entire crowd incapacitated and in awe at the pure musical mastery, the virtuosity and organised auditory chaos being flawlessly executed. Don't be fooled into thinking this set is some ego-inflating instrumental wankery however (see Chon), Thomas Rogers' ability to use both clean vocal melodies and coarse screams interchangeably maintains a human element throughout the whole set, a very welcome feature in a genre that constantly risks becoming all too mechanical. BTBAM are simply in a league of their own, completely incomparable and indescribable in sound, writing and musicality. The countdown to the next tour has already begun.