Serenity in Modern: BTBAM Frontman’s Second All About Delivery


Tranquility can be metal, it just needs proper actualization. Opeth’s Damnation was a good rubric, showing us that soft and clean can be powerfully stimulating. Ditto: Katatonia. And so was Thomas Giles’ Pulse, the solo debut of Between The Buried And Me vocalist Tommy Rogers, whose funky electronics and schizophrenic mood swings bridged metal and indie. You would then expect Mr. Giles/Rogers to span a new chasm with Modern Noise, one leading listeners to uncharted metal territories. You’d be wrong, though: Pulse was the more progressive and innovative album. Modern Noise succeeds not as a metal album, but as a metal influenced not-metal album that achieves metal intensity.

In other words, Modern Noise proves again that easy listening can still get a “fuck yeah” from tried-and-true metal listeners. It varies themes and moods in the same way that any (later) BTBAM album does, but never assaults your senses or overlooks discordance and distortion. It doesn’t depend on being heavy to make its point, nor does it elicit surprise by veering off course. And while there are heavy bits and plenty of nuance, like in the third track “Siphon The Bad Blood,” they’re not structural in their inclusion. Modern Noise is about the delivery.

You could argue that an impressive Russian imperial stout (e.g. North Coast’s Old Rasputin) will win over even the finest pilsener (Victory’s Prima Pils), but you’d be missing the point: Different styles demand a different shades of appreciation. Modern Noise says that each beer can reach the same intoxicating conclusion, that intensity doesn’t require complexity, and that it’s all relative anyhow. Calling Modern Noise a simple album would be a mistake, but calling it gorgeously effortless and masterfully delicate would not be.

Its most metal songs — “Blueberry Queen,” “Noise Upon,” and “Wonder Drug”– are also its most quiet and reserved. In the full context of Modern Noise, they destabilize mood and inject color; alone they churn molten ore via broad scope, jazzy minutia, and deft sensitivity. The rest of Modern Noise is more musakal in nature, worthy of big gulps which deliver impassioned satisfaction without reaching its hand down your pants. Magical? Maybe. Required listening for fans of heavy music? Definitely.

Modern Noise came out Tuesday via Metal Blade. Buy it and listen to four songs here.

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