After Between the Buried and Me pushed metalcore purists away with their most progressive release, Colors, they decided to push even harder for their fifth release. A diverse outing with an unruly amount of genres crammed into only six songs, The Great Misdirect is a highly adventurous, very convoluted, wildly dynamic, and extremely difficult listen. Briggs, Waring, Rogers, Waggoner, and Richardson are in top form, with their script-flipping abilities intact and their technical chops at their most extreme. This is a guitarist's album first and foremost (although bass players and drummers are in for a treat as well), and the playing, while showy, is incendiary. Like a cross between Dream Theater (with whom they toured in 2008) and Dillinger Escape Plan, Between the Buried and Me meld creative aptitude and roaring fury as they skate genres, stapling together speed metal, hardcore, carnival jazz, chamber pop, and a few indefinable Mike Patton-esque styles. "Fossil Genera -- A Feed from Cloud Mountain" fuses loungy Henry Mancini piano with metal guitar and guttural growls in a lighthearted way, but this only lasts for a few minutes; the song takes a dark turn into eight minutes of screaming speed metal before seguing into an epic orchestral outro with syrupy singing by vocalist Tommy Rogers. To fit the many moods, Rogers readily switches moods between painful howls and heartfelt singing (with lyrics mainly dealing with alien abductions, the inner workings of the human brain, and magic), but he passes the microphone to guitarist Paul Waggoner for "Desert of Song," a relatively straightforward acoustic Dirt-era Alice in Chains ballad, which builds to a thick finish. It's merely a breather, however, and after five and a half minutes to recoup, the band goes out with "Swim to the Moon": nearly 18 minutes of unflappable and razor-sharp prog metal -- whirlwind scales, snaking solos, and amazingly intricate rhythm twists -- with hair-raising howls, parted by radio rock harmonies. It's an experience, to say the least. At the same time, The Great Misdirect is the type of overblown record that asks the question, "Is there such thing as being too ambitious?"
© Jason Lymangrover /TiVo