Playing an entire album live – especially one in its relative infancy – can be a risky move, potentially resulting in a lack of interest or boredom. It could also be argued that a full body of work should be experienced in its entirety live, giving the listener something altogether different than the album itself.
This argument applies to prog-metal legends Between the Buried and Me’s ‘Coma Ecliptic Live’, due to the status of the source material as a concept album, and BTBAM’s incredible musical prowess. The album documents The North Carolinian’s performance of 2015’s ‘Coma Ecliptic’ in the Observatory North Park in San Diego, California in October last year.
‘Coma Ecliptic Live’ is a technical spectacle – BTBAM rip through the album’s challenging arrangements without audibly breaking a sweat. In addition to this, the production is immaculate, especially for a show at an 1100-cap venue. Everything from the 70s prog-inspired synths dotted about ‘Coma Ecliptic’, to the prominent piano on ‘Ectopic Scroll’ and the ambient section on ‘Rapid Calm’ is recited to perfection. The only technical niggle is that Thomas Giles’ vocals don’t sound as strong as they could, but this is never a massive problem.
Although ‘Coma Ecliptic Live’ is a good indication of how great this show must have been, and what great musicians BTBAM are, it doesn’t do too much to add to the original album as a listening experience. Sure, it sounds a lot more immediate, but at times things get a bit TOO perfect, and one starts to wonder what ‘Coma Ecliptic Live’, as a listening experience, has over the studio version.
‘Coma Ecliptic Live’ fails to properly convey the experience of a show, due in part to the technical nature of the songs being played. But it’s difficult to criticise it for this reason, as it’s objectively a fantastic show of BTBAM’s musicianship and a documentation of what must’ve been a marvellous concert to attend.
‘Coma Ecliptic Live’ by Between the Buried and Me is released on 28th April on Metal Blade Records / Good Fight Entertainment.
Words by Alan Cunningham (funeral_polis)