Originally written by Erik Thomas
This was pretty high on my “anticipated” list, and came with high expectations considering the involvement of Tommy Rodgers and Paul Waggoner from Prayer For Cleansing (some of my favorite metalcore stuff). So it comes as a mild surprise that it disappoints. Only slightly though, as The Silent Circus is a fine album, but tries to do way too much within its framework. It tries to be too clever and artistic at times, and loses some of its impact.
First, the album seems to have a lot of filler that lies between DEP stuttering, math metal riffs and moody metalcore that’s well done, but way too ‘busy’ for my throwback tastes. Second, the few elements that make BTBAM at time unique are horribly underutilized. It starts very promisingly with “Lost Perfection A) Coulrophobia”, that features some early sublime Waggoner solo-work, and it hints at being something truly special, only to be cut short with standard metalcore dual riffing and scathing screams. But for some reason the next 2 tracks shudder past me with solid, but less than impressive structures and more emphasis on contorted riffs, eclectic structures and an overall feel of forced unpredictability. The feel of this approach re-minded me of Forever Is Forgotten in so much that they are so focused on being technical and off kilter, they forget the premise of memorable riffs. Even the breakdowns that appear in “Lost Perfection B) Anablephobia” and “Camilla Rhodes” are either disjointed or littered with annoying feedback and distortion that ruins the otherwise sturdy segments.
Luckily, though, BTBAM do come up with some pure brilliance that makes up for the album’s initial and concluding shortcomings. Starting with “Mordacai” and ending with “Destructo Spin”, the album’s mid section careens into often mid numbing brilliance between the albums flat beginning and unnecessarily drawn out ending. Despite starting with surprisingly chaotic blasting, “Mordecai”, develops, swells, and builds into the album’s best track. Its marvelous clean vocal section (with very odd lyrics), and subsequent refrain is about as good as it gets, with Waggoner delivering as rending a solo you’ll hear in the genre. With “Reaction” and “(Shevanel. Pt 2)”, BTBAM tread acoustics and instrumental waters that are a far cry from their usual schizophrenic metalcore outbursts.
Waggoner again exudes his unmistakable talents for “Ad a Dglgmut” (a Prayer For Cleansing reference?), with yet more majestic soloing and Tommy Rogers’ soothing singing, that for me, made this album. Despite its herky-jerky start, “Destructo Spin” settles into a far more familiar pace for its last few moments, that’s an epic crescendo similar to the former bands efforts. Then for the Meshuggah-ish “Aesthetic”, it’s back to bizarre rhythms and ‘progressive’ structures that confuse and underwhlem with technical tenacity, but little memorable dynamics. Then as if to enforce their “genre bending” attitudes, there’s the album closer ‘The Need For Repetition”, that starts as a promising, crawling, brooding track, before veering into the now very overused 8 minutes of silence followed by the all too “hilarious” hidden track.
A slightly underachieving album (considering the lineage) that tries to do too much to break away from metalcore norms, and as a result comes across as slightly pretentious. However, the high points of the standout tracks still make it a worth while trip.