Every Time I Die – ‘Low Teens’

By James Davenport

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the Every Time I Die. The group from Buffalo had to cancel and re-schedule a handful of European shows as a result of the tragic Paris bombings, as well as brave a harsh winter that never left the low teens on the thermometer whilst recording their eighth studio album. Although the weather was the last priority for frontman Keith Buckley, whose journey may well have been bumpiest of all. He had to take leave during a tour due to a family emergency. Despite both Buckley’s wife and child surviving the crisis, it clearly had a serious impact on him and played an important role when writing the lyrics for ‘Low Teens’.

‘Fear and Trembling’ quickly establishes the overall tone for the record, opening with a much heavier and down tuned guitar sound than previous albums. Keith Buckley’s unmistakable, howling vocals are more ferocious than ever. Screaming ‘Though it may haunt us and break our hearts, death can not tear us apart’ is clearly an ode to the previously mentioned family emergency and emotional turmoil it caused. The lyrics reveal a darker insight to the world through Buckley’s eyes.

‘Low Teens’ sees the band revisiting their roots with some previously explored sounds and although some songs sound as though they could have been lifted off of one of their earlier releases, they still manage to keep it fresh. ‘Glitches’, ‘Petal’ and the first single from the album, ‘The Coin Has A Say’ are all reminiscent of the sound ETID created with their second album, ‘Hot Damn!’. All three tracks are fast paced and relentless in their approach. ‘Two Summers’ sounds as though it could have been a missing track from ‘The Big Dirty’ with its cowbell break, and ‘1977’ wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Gutter Phenomenon’; it’s a razor sharp, circle pit inducing anthem.

Despite there being some familiarity, there’s also a lot of progression musically, vocally and lyrically. ‘C++’ explores some discordant riffs layered with clean vocals and a catchy hook, although the stand out lyrics that further explore this dark turn are “When everybody gets a universe they do what they want. I’m gonna need another universe, I tore mine apart.” Some of the most heartfelt and furious lyrical arrangements come in the form of ‘Awful Lot’, which explores some issues with abandonment and isolation. Buckley calls people “barbarians” over some intense breakdowns, before yelling with a breaking voice: “Acknowledge me you motherfuckers.”

There are quite a few tempo changes throughout the album. Tracks such as ‘I Didn’t Want To Join Your Cult Anyway’, ‘Religion Of Speed’ and ‘Just As Real But Not As Brightly Lit’ are all fast, punchy and aggressive but there are also some more melodic moments that add contrast to the overall theme. The second single, ‘It Remembers’ is one of the slower tracks on the album which also features Brendan Urie (Panic! At The Disco) as Keith Buckley’s melodic counterpart.

To close out the album, ‘Map Change’ offers up one of the most progressive and experimental efforts from the band to date. There’s several tempo changes throughout from fast punk ‘n’ roll to a big ambient build up which combined with the catchy, cleanly sung chorus and hauntingly beautiful vocal line, “I’ve weighed down the earth. No use trying to save it.” This sees out the closing moments of ‘Low Teens’ and proves to be one of the most exciting and emotionally charged releases in the band’s history. It’s obvious that Every Time I Die have poured their heart and soul into this record, especially Keith Buckley who’s silver tongue and lyrical genius undeniably make him one of the last true poets.

JAMES DAVENPORT

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