Response to Between the Buried and Me review

Written by Scott Mervis on .

btbamLast Friday, there was, to put it mildly, a strong reaction to the review of the Between the Buried and Me set at Stage AE. Clearly, I messed with a fanbase that is passionate about its favorite band (generally my favorite kind). Predictably, it turned into the typical feeding frenzy you find in a YouTube comment section -- with profanity, name-calling, threats, etc. -- so I flipped the off-switch on the comments, with a little remorse about free speech and all.

The following, however, is an articulate and respectful response to the review that makes a lot of valid points.

One that is not particularly valid (imo) is this hangup that BTBAM fans seem to have about the title of "Pop Music Writer." That's just a title that a publication uses! It is short for "popular" music. It doesn't mean you simply write about Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. It just distinguishes you from the jazz writer and classical writers.

Also, please, having been to thousands of concerts, I've seen my share of metal bands, from Sabbath to Slayer to Cannibal Corpse to Mastodon and Opeth, and in terms of progressive rock, I probably saw King Crimson before a lot of you were even born, so it wasn't like this was my first rodeo.

Here is the letter:

This is in response to Scott Mervis's article about the Coheed and Cambria/Between the Buried and Me concert at Stage AE this past week.

His article was rather harsh in critiquing Between the Buried and Me, and I would like to bring to light more aspects of BTBAM's music that Scott may have overlooked since he is obviously not very familiar with the band. While I respect Scott Mervis, and believe he is very knowledgeable of today's music scene; his background is clearly, as stated in his title, in "pop" music.

I don't believe he has the authority to critique a "prog metal" show, regardless of how popular the headliner is. Between the Buried and Me is not your everyday metal band to say the least. They have a huge following spanning most of the globe (Antarctica?). Ok, maybe they "jump through genres," if that's what you want to call it, and Tommy Rogers switches from singing to growling occasionally (I wouldn't say "every 10 seconds" as stated in the article), but that's what makes them BTBAM.

They are some of the most musically inclined and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. If one actually takes the time to listen and understand the lyrics ("the death growls"), one would hear a beautiful story being told of mysticism and adventure, not the typical garbage that "pop" singers spew out their mouth holes (I won't go into detail). As for the instrumentals: one would be hard pressed to find a more talented and diverse group of individuals than BTBAM. Watch any of their studio footage on YouTube. They are some of the most talented and well respected musicians in the metal scene today.

Scott goes on to say that the band's songs make "no structural sense, jumping through genres [.] like an iPod run amok." Maybe your iPod, Scott, but not everybody's. Just because the time signature changes occasionally throughout the song doesn't mean the song doesn't make "structural sense" (mixed, irrational, additive meters?). "Aside from the 20 or so moshers up front, people seemed to endure it more than enjoy it."

I think this is where Scott went awry. He is mistaking "enduring" with "listening". Some people go to concerts to actually listen to music. Between the Buried and Me is a metal band, so one would expect people to be moshing, but their technicality and musicality draws more of a standing, listening, and watching-in- awe crowd. I have been to my share of metal shows, and some of my favorites have been the ones that the crowd simply stands and listens. Nobody likes the kung-fu pit masters anyway. I would suggest that Scott Mervis stick to critiquing Pop bands that he's familiar with instead of those that he's only ever seen in concert once.

Jay Pittenger

I'm going to leave the comments section open for reasonably civil responses.


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