I will never forget where I was when I learned that it was actually happening: industry titans Between the Buried and Me were finally releasing a sequel to their legendary, genre-defining, paradigm shifting classic “Colors”. You can divide metal as a whole between the pre-Colors era and the post-Colors era; BTBAM’s 2007 breakout masterpiece influenced an entire industry for years to come. Would it’s long anticipate sequel live up to it’s name, or would it be another instance of soulless sequel baiting for quick cash?
“Colors II” is an exhausting behemoth. At nearly 80 minutes long – the length of a full movie – “Colors II” is not an album that you can simply put on in the background and carry on with your day. As with the original, it is one singular (often through-composed) piece of work, demanding that you give it your full attention in order to fully appreciate it. And BTBAM rewards your attention generously, not only if you’re familiar with the original album, but especially for how many memorable moments are stuffed into this album – space does not permit mention of all of the highlights, influences, and styles that appear here, nor to detail how this soon-to-be-20-year-old band continues to stretch their musicianship to new heights. “Colors II” is exhausting, but not in a bad sense – by the time the triumphant ending credits solo of the very emotionally (and musically) heavy closer “Human is Hell (Another One With Love)” kicks off, you are worn out as one is worn out after a beautiful hike, or a close pick-up basketball game with friends, or a stunning performance of a monumental work of art.
I cannot find anything negative to say here. Even though initially I struggled with the album’s length and scope, multiple listens have eased that pain, and movements I didn’t initially care for have become wonderfully satisfying. After a slight stumble with 2018’s “Automata”, BTBAM has released arguably the best album of their career – potentially, possibly, even surpassing the original work that changed the genre forever.
“Colors II” by Between the Buried and Me is available wherever you get your music. #3 tomorrow.