Between The Buried And Me at Wien Arena, Vienna - live review

BTBAM's impressive Valentine's Day prog-a-thon

The crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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There’s a lot of love in the air tonight. Perhaps it’s because it is Valentine’s Day in one of Europe’s most romantic cities, or maybe it’s just the lashings of local beer. Either way, there are good vibes for this progtastic bill bookended by headliner Devin Townsend Project and Norway’s favourite sons Leprous, who open the sold-out show with aplomb.

Prog metallers Between The Buried And Me are at a pivotal moment in their career, following the release of their acclaimed eighth studio album Coma Ecliptic in 2015. As minds cast towards conjuring up its successor, the US outfit are stuck in an album cycle limbo, an odd place of purgatory between the past and the future. Tonight’s six-song set gives little clue about what is up their sleeves, but it’s a tour de force trip back through their last few releases.

They launch headfirst towards the wacky keyboard intro to the twisty-turny Fossil Genera – A Feed from Cloud Mountain, an interesting yet bombastic choice as an opener. Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring’s twin-guitar assault powerhouses its way through the venue, while Blake Richardson’s booming bass drum beats threaten to explode any poor pacemakers out there. Near the front, the intricate nuances and brain-churning runs don’t always shine through, but the fists in the air – devil-horning like they just don’t care – show that the crowd are well on board.

The setlist has perhaps been picked with Devin’s fans in mind; there are plenty of off-kilter moments, but uplifting ones too. The life-affirming refrains of Lay Your Ghosts To Rest is a highlight, while the wacky jamboree Bloom gets a rare airing as singer Tommy Rogers creeps around the stage, possessed by a theatrical persona.

BTBAM’s set ends on the closing two tracks from their latest album, namely Option Oblivion and Life In Velvet, and it feels like the symbolic curtain-closing of the Coma Ecliptic era before a new one opens; bassist Dan Briggs lurches back and forth as the last song comes to its crushing finale.

There’s a lot of positive feeling in the room for BTBAM, and tonight goes some way to revealing why. The big question is if this band can maintain their potency in next chapter. You wouldn’t bet against it.

Chris Cope

A writer for Prog magazine since 2014, armed with a particular taste for the darker side of rock. The dayjob is local news, so writing about the music on the side keeps things exciting - especially when Chris is based in the wild norths of Scotland. Previous bylines include national newspapers and magazines.