How Low Can You Go?
I’ve been consuming a lot of new stuff lately, mainly games and music, but you know, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on one of the new albums I’ve gotten my meaty man-grabbers on in the past week.
Every Time I Die are a hardcore punk/metalcore outfit from Buffalo, New York. Formed in 1998, they are known throughout the metal spectrum for their FLIPPIN’ MENTAL live shows and overall chaotic sound and are one of the most well-known bands in the metalcore genre, mainly due to these two distinctive factors. Their frontman, Keith Buckley, is a prime source of this mentalness and gives the band a unique sound with his varied vocal range, using scream, clean and, more recently, soulful vocals to give ETID an all-important edge. Guitarists, artist and Keith’s brother, Jordan Buckley and, recently-professional wrestler (that’s a bit cool), Andy Williams really bring the heavy element to their music, complimenting each other brilliantly. These elements come together to make a really fresh sound that has made Every Time I Die one of my favourite metal bands.
And Low Teens is their new album, which I have been hotly anticipating since it’s announcement earlier this year. After the absolute QUALITY of From Parts Unknown, their 2014 release, I couldn’t wait to see what the band could do on their eighth release, with the singles, especially The Coin Has A Say and It Remembers, being particularly exciting, but we’ll get to that later. It was only a matter of time before I got my mitts on it to see if Every Time I Die could continue this golden streak…
The album kicks off with Fear And Trembling, which delivers the craziness you’d expect from ETID. From the first chord of the driving, chunky-at-points riff, you know that you are in for a quite a treat. Moreover, the tuning of the guitars really give the song an eerie edge, which is something, I am sure, Every Time I Die has dabbled with in the past. However, I have no idea who’s providing the second set of vocals, and I’m not sure I like it either.
Following that is Glitches, which is one of the singles released from the album, and is probably the most Every Time I Die-ey song on the record. Characterised by those screaming vocals from Buckley, as well as the nonsensical lyrics, Glitches is also easily comparable from something from their last record, with the same manic and carpet-chewing riffs you’d expect from the band.
Another single, C++ (Love Will Get You Killed) is the first song on the record to show off the cleaner side to Keith Buckley’s vocals, with the verses including that aforementioned soul that has developed over the years. As well as this, there is an awesome bass intro that, for all you KoRn fans out there, really reminded of the thick sloppiness that you’d find on something like Follow The Leader or summat. The layered guitar riffs, which compliment the vocals perfectly and provide a strong backbone to the song, make it a definite highlight on the album.
If C++ introduced those cleaner vocals, then Two Summers gave it a spotlight, with it being the only style the frontman uses. The vocal performance really is the highlight of this song as it reminds me of Decayin’ With The Boys at points, one of my favourite ETID songs. That being said, I’m not extremely keen on the stop-starty nature of the riffs, as well as the drums that go along with it.
However, drummer Daniel Davison redeems himself almost immediately with the song Awful Lot, which is probably one of my personal drumming highlights of the year, filling up every nook and cranny of the song with something cool, like an expanding foam. On top of this, the guitar parts on this song are, on the whole, pretty great as well. There is also another quality performance from the frontman, you’ll be hearing that a lot, and an outro that is eerily reminiscent of Closer by Nine Inch Nails, with a distorted piano being used to great effect.
The follow-up I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway, is probably one of the most dumb moments on the album, which isn’t necessarily a criticism. While lyrics are probably the worst on the album, they’re performed in such a way that I can’t help but be entertained by them. Compared to the rest of the track listing, this is obviously the most drunken rant-like on Low Teens and I’m not hating it, that’s fer sure.
However, that song is followed with It Remembers. Oh man, what a flippin’ song. Easily one of, if not my favourite on the album, and a definite contest for track of the year, just for the complete sideswipe it performs on you alone. The song is predominantly clean singing, with a guest performance from Brandon Urie, of Panic! At The Disco, being a big surprise and a great one at that. Now, I’m sure plenty of people reading this, particularly those who have been drawn by Reuben, will not be the biggest fans of Panic! At The Disco, but compared to some of the other acts ETID have associated themselves in the past (Fall Out Boy, etc.), they are a vast improvement, and they’ve done a couple of catchy ones, I’m not ashamed to admit. Anyway, with a killer couple of riffs and some spectacular drumming, I can’t fault this song too much. However, I think it would’ve made a lot more sense as a closer for the album, rather than track number 7, due to its grand finale-like cymbals and closer. Still, what a flippin’ song.
Following a song like It Remembers is a pretty big task to uphold and, sadly, Petal doesn’t really cut it. By no means a poor track, this song follows a similar ETID formula in its erratic nature, while also adopting a slightly eerie sound, which is present throughout the album. However, while it’s nowhere near the same quality of the preceding song, it does allow you to recoil before the next song.
The final single released from the album, The Coin Has A Say is, while different to It Remembers, in that it is just relentless as the rest of their discography, is no less awesome. The lyrics on this track are some of the best I’ve heard from the band, with the group’s sardonic humour being on full show, with the delivery being another highlight. The vocal performance really captures the screaming and clean capabilities of the frontman, while also weaving in spoken verses that don’t make me want to throw myself off of a roof. The guitar parts are also extremely strong, with each guitarist taking a different, yet intrinsically linked, approach to the riff, as well as an awesome solo making an appearance. The rhythm section aren’t slouchin’ either, with the bass in this song being particularly groovy. I’m sure this’ll be played in plenty of gigs for years to come.
Ironically the longest song on the album, Religion Of Speed keeps the pace of the album high, while also introducing a bit more melody to the mix, I think. The vocal performance really threw me off upon first listen, and I still haven’t fully adjusted to it. While it isn’t dramatically different, the chorus includes a melodic style of screaming that is very rare, making it kinda unique. However, it reminds me of the punkier side of ETID and the anthems that populate that genre, which I’m not a fan of.
After that uncharted territory, we are plunged into more familiar waters with Just As Real But Not As Brightly Lit, a song that contains lyrical gems aplenty. Similarly to a lot of Every Time I Die songs, the drumming follows the rhythmic lead of the vocals, which, in turn, affects the guitars and bass. Thankfully, Buckley delivers the vocals at a relentless pace and leads song brilliantly.
The penultimate song, 1977 is a similar affair. Like Deftones’ Around The Fur, Low Teens definitely follows a musical structure that makes differentiating between songs quite tricky. However, unlike the tiring sense of that album, ETID manage to keep the sound fresh by unashamedly punch you in the ear drums with a barrage of instrumentals and screaming, with 1977 being a prime example of that, as it’s the penultimate song and I’m still entertained.
Finally, Map Change is the closer to the album (unless you have the digital deluxe edition, which I don’t). Admittedly, if there was a song that could close this album that wasn’t It Remembers, it would probably be Map Change. The melodies on display here, as well as the overall groove of the track, make it a fine send off to a great album.
Overall, Every Time I Die’s Low Teens proves that age does not slow you down, as ETID are just as vicious and entertaining as they always have been, even after eight studio releases. However, they also show a very clear musical progression and maturity in some of their songs, namely (you guessed it) It Remembers and Map Change, while also retaining their drunken craziness in others, like I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway (I’M JOINING A CULT JOINING A CULT JOINING A CULT!!!!!!). Everyone on this record has a clear passion for the music and it shows in the track listing, as everything from the mixing to the atmosphere is done right. Obviously, this is a quality metal record and one that is definitely up for album of the year.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations