Let me start this review by saying that yes, I am a huge fan of this band, and therefore many of you will probably not agree with half the things I have to say. Nevertheless, Between the Buried and Me are an extremely talented group of individuals, and no one should be able to deny that. The band's fourth official outing, The Anatomy Of finds BTBAM covering the bands that have had the most influence on their music. While most bands that feature screaming or growling vocals tend to ruin classic songs by doing just that, BTBAM shows much restraint here, screaming when it works, and toning down the parts that should be softer. It's extremely effective, and certainly makes the future of cover songs look much brighter.
The album leads off with Metallica's "Blackened." After nailing the intro perfectly, the song kicks into high gear with chugging guitar riffs matching the original's note for note, and growling vocals that only add to the natural urge to headbang. When I first heard that this song was on the album, I knew it was a great choice, just based on the badass guitar solo. Needless to say, the band exceeds all expectations. The super-harmonized solo is so good, I almost like this version better.
Next comes a cover of Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart." Not being a huge MC fan, I wasn't expecting much, but not only is it bearable, it makes me want to give the Crüe another listen. The singing here fits perfectly. Just hearing the difference and variety in the vocals from one song to the next is mindblowing.
A cover of Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live" brings me back to the nineties for a second, and then kicks my ass with a screaming chorus. I swear, if Tommy Rogers wasn't a singer, he'd be an impressionist. Chris Cornell would be proud.
After the flashback, we're treated to the best song on the album, a cover of Queen's "Bicycle Race." Now, I know what you're thinking, but seriously, give it a listen. You'll be surprised. No, Tommy is no Freddie, but damn, he can sing, and damn, he can sing like Freddie. Enough said. Kudos to the backing vocalists by the way.
King Crimson's "Three of a Perfect Pair" is expertly copied to the point where you almost forget which version you're listening to. Some people would criticize, but I'd rather hear the same song by different people than a shitty pop version or something.
Pink Floyd's "Us and Them" is up next, and...wow. Covers don't get any better than this. The band is honestly as talented as the `70s legends, and they prove they've got chops here, with an emotional, surreal, and beautiful rendition of a true classic, saxophone included. The choruses are filled with hard-hitting vocals, harmonized distortion, and what sounds like (but I'm not sure) incredibly fast double-bass. The solos are perfect. Everything about the song is astounding. I swear I've heard new things every time I listen to it.
I never really liked "Geek USA" by Smashing Pumpkins, but listening to this song is like listening to Billy and Co. on steroids. When I said "impressionist" earlier, I wasn't kidding. Tommy's Corgan is dead on. It comes off as a great hard rock / metal song and takes one of the top spots on the disc.
As much as I love Earth Crisis, BTBAM's cover of "Forced March" blows the old version out of the water. I can't explain it, but the song sounds even more complete, even more of a whole, and just simply better.
When that's over, a splendid cover of Sepultura's "Territory" kicks the listener's ass, with its crunching guitars, blistering drum work, and a gutteral growl any singer would appreciate. If you like the old version, you're bound to like this one, so I expect to see all you Sepultura fans in line with this at the record store.
Just when you thought you'd heard it all from this band, "Change," originally by Blind Melon (I would have preferred "No Rain," but this works), is gracefully and beautifully presented for your enjoyment. And enjoy it you should, because there's almost nothing better than listening to this song, under the influence of something fun, while watching the sun come up, from your broken down Cadillac, while smoking a cigarette. Seriously.
As for Faith No More's "Malpractice," I guarantee you Mike Patton is sitting somewhere rocking out to this moody rendition.
I've never understood Depeche Mode, but I can tell you that the band's cover of "Little 15" sounds a lot like them. I don't care much for it, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the work and musicianship that went into it. They like them, and that's their thing. Fans of the original will like theirs too.
On a more disappointing note, "Cemetary Gates" sounds nowhere near as good as Pantera's original. Perhaps it's the acoustic-sounding guitars for the intro. Perhaps it's the fact that the vocals need to be turned waaaay up. Perhaps it's just that Tommy apparently refused to try and hit the high notes at the end, even though it's obvious from the rest of the disc that he's capable of it. However, the song works for the most part, with most of the guitar work matching that of the original, and at times exceeding it. It's a shame that they couldn't nail the rest of it, because it's the one song I was looking the most forward to.
That track is officially the last of the album, but a hidden song turns out to be the band's terrific cover of "Colorblind" by Counting Crows (apparently, the band's biggest influence).
One of the better cover albums to come out in awhile, The Anatomy Of may take some getting used to if you're not a fan of Between the Buried and Me or the original artists. However, if you even like one of the originals, I strongly advise that you sit down and hear it off this disc. Aside from the big let-down on the final track, this is an amazing effort from one of the scene's best newer bands. I'll leave you now with nine words. I would kill to see this album performed live. Perhaps "Cemetary Gates" would turn out better. Shit, that was more than nine.