|Photo by: Amazon|
Key Tracks: “Partying is Such Sweet Sorrow,” “Indian Giver,” “Business Casualty”
Buffalo natives Every Time I Die are not new to the metalcore scene. In fact, they keep it alive with strong southern metal and mathcore elements, bitingly sarcastic lyrics, and a live show that you have to see to believe.
The band’s sound has evolved significantly over the past decade from the blunt intensity of 2001’s Last Night in Town to the more commercially accessible Gutter Phenomenon in 2005. After the success of New Junk Aesthetic in 2009, Every Time I Die fans were anxious to hear what else their hardcore heroes had up their sleeves. A band’s got to run out of steam sometime, right?
Wrong. Ex Lives not only delivers the chaotic goods of past releases, but also utilizes some of the most unique elements in hardcore music today.
The album begins in typical ETID fashion with a punchy little number called “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space.” On the surface, this track sounds like familiar ETID openers like Hot Damn’s “Romeo a Go-Go,” but there’s something else lurking underneath. The drums are technically cleaner and the bass is much more prominent. Keith Buckley’s cries of “I want to be dead with my friends” sound like a call to arms.
Once “Underwater Bimbos” fades out and “Holy Book of Dilemma” kicks in, the intricate drum work hits like a punch to the gut, and you’re left wondering, “What the hell did I get myself into?”
The heavy drone of “A Wild, Shameless Plain” is a nice break from the chaotic rhythm sections of the previous two tracks, but it’s the sharp clarity of the guitar in “Typical Miracle” that really pulls the album into a far more peculiar direction.
If the riffs in “Typical Miracle” weren’t impressive enough, try listening to the airtight syncopation in “I Suck (Blood)” with a straight face. Keeping an off rhythm with a dizzying tempo like this could be considered superhuman.
One of the most entertaining surprises on Ex Lives is “Partying is Such Sweet Sorrow,” a southern rock/metal hybrid complete with a perfectly executed banjo/guitar duel. The clean vocals are the icing on top of this beautifully creative track.
Once “The Low Road Has No Exits” has us all riled up, “Revival Mode” slows things down a notch. This is both good and bad. While it showcases Buckley’s “softer side” in terms of vocal abilities, it feels a little too sluggish, especially for an Every Time I Die song. It’s missing that signature attitude.
“Drag King” is a breath of fresh metal after the previous downer track, and “Touch Yourself” is brutal enough to get the blood pumping again.
The real gem on this album is the leviathan track “Indian Giver,” which would probably feel right at home on a Mastodon record. Echoing vocals soar above the earthy weight of minor chord progressions, resulting in an almost spiritual atmosphere. While some fans may think this track is a little out of place, it demonstrates the band’s instrumental malleability. The intensity in “Indian Giver” lies not with speed or volume, but with a wall of immensely layered sounds.
Though Ex Lives pulls off a spectacular finale with “Indian Giver,” the bonus tracks give the album that extra punch, reminding the listener that Every Time I Die is still a metalcore force to be reckoned with.
The bass in “Business Casualty” is heavy enough to crush the strongest men, and the guitar work is delightfully varied and creatively pieced together. Again, we’re treated to Buckley’s clean vocals, which harbor a kind of quiet intensity.
Finally, “Starve an Artist, Cover Your Trash” brings the album full circle, harkening back to the hardcore elements of “Underwater Bimbos.”
Ex Lives is a nearly flawless effort from Every Time I Die, and could possibly be considered the band’s best album to date. If this is a sign of things to come, the hardcore scene had better gear up for a full-scale ETID takeover.
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