Let the Arsies begin! Our first bout is between two East Coast bands: Between The Buried And Me and Kamelot.
BTBAM win the coin toss, so they start us off with Coma Ecliptic, their most ambitious album to date. This album features the band at their most Dream Theater-like, which is both an interesting shift and an inescapable distraction. But the gambit makes for very intersting listening at the very worst. The album takes a few tracks to find its stride, but finds and maintains a dynamic pace as soon as the band launch into the heaviness that is Famine Wolf.
After that, Kamelot's Haven seems thin by comparison... at first. In a lot of ways, it's the ultimate anti-BTBAM. First, all of the album's energies are devoted to being the Platonic ideal of power metal. In doing so, the band also manage to sound as much like Dream Theater as BTBAM does. But Kamelot also succeed in being more consistently metal throughout the length of their album. It's an excellent, earnest, and energetic homage to the genre, and it's hard to find fault with it. And really, that's the secret of Haven's power: its flawless execution.
If not for the cruel luck of the draw, I can easily imagine Kamelot having made it further into the tournament than a first-round elimination. Alas, BTBAM knock them out... barely. The real surprise today is not that BTBAM wins, but that Kamelot gives them such a run for their money.
Tomorrow's match is a moody one: Chelsea Wolfe versus Panopticon!