Every Time I Die get high marks for being a band that has remained stylistically consistent over the years, without ever becoming creatively stagnant.
The band’s potent blend of angular metalcore, raging hardcore and southern rock swagger permeates throughout the bulk of the band’s catalog, especially from Gutter Phenomenon onward. Although each of their records possess a particular atmosphere or focal point, such as The Big Dirty‘s emphasis on gritty groove or From Parts Unknown‘s overwhelming chaos, this interesting amalgam of styles connects all of them together. So, just like the rest of their discography, Low Teens seems like business as usual when taken at face value. But, just like the rest of their discography, it throws in a lot of subtle changes and “out-of-character” moments that give it a unique feel. With eight albums in the bag it looks like the Buffalo outfit’s sleeves aren’t going to be void of tricks anytime soon.
First and foremost, Low Teens is the band’s most brooding and emotionally-charged record to date. The majority of this can be attributed to frontman Keith Buckley’s lyrical presence on the album. It has been documented that much of the lyrical content is inspired by a specific, tumultuous moment in Buckley’s life when he was forced to leave tour when his then-pregnant wife contracted a severe, life-threatening illness that prompted doctors to force his daughter into premature birth. Going through such a traumatic event naturally prompts some very scathing, emotionally-wrought lyrics. Buckley’s usual penchant for sardonic prose is mostly abandoned in favor of more biting and bitter lyrics dealing with topics like the life-altering event he endured, existentialism and self-deprecation.
As such, the music itself takes a darker and more sinister tone. The record begins with the down-tuned, angular sludge fest of “Fear and Trembling”. The track lurches and growls with intense, animalistic fury and doesn’t hesitate to open up into more abstract structures. This bludgeoning, sludgy dirges makes a reappearance in the track “Awful Lot”, which weaves together galloping doom and jittery melodies. The band’s more hardcore cuts sound more aggressive on this record as well. “Glitches” storms out of the gate with vicious riffs and concussive rhythms that deliver optimal bruising in just three-minute’s time. The dissonant, chaotic flurry of riffs and breakdowns present in the hellacious “Petal” will remind one of the band’s Hot Damn! and Last Night in Town days, albeit more dismal.
Of course no ETID record wouldn’t be complete with out a few southern-friend anthems. Tracks like “Two Summers” and “It Remembers” are full of that metal-bred swagger and groove that has helped give the band a unique presence throughout the years. Catchy choruses and undeniable riffs run the show here and seem to become more infectious with repeated listens. Then like every ETID recording, Low Teens throws a couple of aural curve balls the listener’s way.
“C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)” is an interesting spin on the tried and true ETID formula, combining off-kilter southern metal riffs with anthemic rock stampedes and sludgy beatdowns. “The Coin Has a Say” conjures memorable groove riffs that remind one of tunes like “Decayin’ With the Boys”, except are presented in more serpentine and disjunctive ways. The five-minute “Religion of Speed” features three distinct sections of intricate melody, storming choruses, and low-end marches, all of which fight for dominance throughout. But probably the most surprising standout track is the closer, “Map Change”. Here the band expertly infuse towering, triumphant choruses with alternative splendor and a bit of spiraling guitar acrobatics. The end-result is one of the band’s most powerful and unique tracks in their catalog.
Low Teens shows Every Time I Die at their darkest, most brooding and, in contrast, their most playful. It would seem that seem that the record borrows from each incarnation of the band and blends them together extremely well. The chaos of Hot Damn! (“Petal”), the propulsive hardcore of From Parts Unknown (“Glitches”), the southern metal bliss of The Big Dirty (“Two Summers”), and others all rear their head on this record along with some new sides of the band. It’s been nearly 20 years since their inception and Every Time I Die do not show any side of slowing down just yet.
Release Date: September 23, 2016
Label: Epitaph Records
Favorite Tracks: “Fear and Trembling”, “Glitches”, “Awful Lot”, “1977”, “The Coin Has a Say”, “Petal” and “Map Change”