Our favorite guys from Buffalo are back! Every Time I Die “Radical” might be the album we all need after the last two years. Today we check it out, and look at the stand out tracks.
Every Time I Die: At It Again…
Buffalo, NY is a pretty dismal place if you’ve ever had the misfortune of visiting it. It sits right on the Canadian border, and I can name about 5 other cities in Upstate NY that are much nicer. I apologize in advance if you are from Buffalo. If it helps at all, I am from Atlanta originally, and I feel the same way about that city. I have a love/hate relationship, it’s really… complicated. Every Time I Die is from Buffalo, and I think their sound definitely sums my feelings up to a T.
Every Time I Die is one of those rare bands that have somehow done everything right in the Hardcore/Metalcore scene. They are often spoken about in the same conversations that include Converge, Norma Jean, and Dillinger Escape Plan. I have never heard anyone say anything negative about ETID, and their career spans 9 albums and over two decades. It’s almost unheard of for a band these days to not only hold that kind of legacy, but also that kind of longevity.
They spent years headlining The Warped Tour and playing countless shows all over the world. If anyone has paid their roads dues, it’s ETID. For the first few years of their career, they still held day jobs. Keith Buckley was a High School English teacher assistant. Andy Williams was/is a pro wrestler. Once they went full-time as musicians, they jumped lanes immediately and stayed ahead of the curve. When asked how the band is constantly staying ahead of the curve and being so strong with their innovation, Keith simply said:
“We don’t pay attention to the curve.”
Their last album, “Low Teens” was released 5 whole years ago during a dark time for the band, due to lots of personal issues. It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago, yet at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago. With all the turmoil in the USA and the rest of the world these days it has made time move slowly and quickly at the same time. No matter where you are from, you have been through a great deal of bullshit these last couple of years.
“Radical” was completed in 2020, right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit us full force. Every Time I Die had a big choice to make. They could release the album, but they would not be able to support the album with a tour…or they could wait. The band chose the latter and decided to give us a few singles to hold us over for a while until it was the right time to release the album.
The right time is now, as venues have started allowing shows again. I was excited to get this album and I have spent the weekend really going over “Radical” with a fine-toothed comb. Today we take a look at the tracks that really stood out to me, and talk about what may be ETID’s most epic album yet. The official press release says:
ETID makes a glorious hardcore-punk noise, alchemized by a swampy summoning of Southern rock’s coarse poetry. The music swirls beneath sardonic and clever wordplay, a combination cementing them as leaders, not followers. The band is recognized and revered for its anarchic explosiveness, artistic impulsiveness, and approachable camaraderie. It’s all interwoven with a visceral lack of the usual f*cks.
Revolver counted 2016’s Low Teens among the 25 Best Albums of the 2010s, and the follow-up, Radical, is no less revelatory. Once again produced by Will Putney (A Day To Remember, The Ghost Inside, Body Count), Radical is 16 tracks of peak-ETID, including raucous new anthems like “Post-Boredom,” “Planet Shit,” “A Colossal Wreck,” “Desperate Pleasures,” and “AWOL.”ETID Official
So let’s give credit where credit is due, and check out the new album! “Radical” is a 16 track double album that clocks in at just under an hour. That’s pretty hefty for a band that usually produces three-minute bursts of metallic energy. But this album is different in a lot of ways. I mean…it’s really different.
“Radical” was produced, engineered, and mixed by Will Putney who has done just about every Metal band’s album in the past 5 years or so. Really, look up his credits! He has done some great work so far in his career, and his albums sound amazing, while still retaining that raw live energy. “Radical” was recorded at GCR Audio in Buffalo, NY. The mix on this album is absolutely insane. When it comes to sound quality, it cannot get any better than this.
“Radical” kicks off with the track Dark Distance. As far as album openers go, Every Time I Die know how to kick an album off right. This song could be a sequel to Roman Holiday off of “New Junk Aesthetic”. It throws you right into the thick of the classic ETID sound, with a crazy heavy Drop A riff and Keith Buckley sounding like he has completely blown out his voice, in a good way. It is intense and a little claustrophobic. The first lyrics we hear set the tone for the rest of the album.
Spare only the ones I love
Slay the rest
Make us pay
Make us pay
Worldwide recall of defective machines
All consuming, deaf, blind and dumb, as seen on TV
Give us our plague, now
Give us our plague!
Seeing as this was written before the pandemic, it is a little eerie how on the nose Keith is with his lyrics. It was with this song, that I realized “Radical” was a title was a play on words (as usual). Don’t let the album cover fool you with the retro 80’s look, and make you think they are using the word Radical as 80’s slang for “Cool”.
What ETID means to say with the album title is the real meaning of radical. As in, radical beliefs and stance. I strapped in because I knew I was in for a ride.
Tracks 2 and 3 seem to go together really well, we have “Sly” and “Planet Shit” back to back, and this is Every Time I Die in their purest form. There are too many great, creative riffs to count, and too many one-liners from the always verbose Keith Buckley to even comprehend upon a single listen. Both songs are firing on all cylinders and this is classic Hardcore and Metal. The drum sound on this album is absolutely amazing, and Goose is playing at his full potential on every track.
Track 4 is the catchy “Post Boredom”. This is still one of my favorite songs on the record, and it is ETID doing what they do best. There isn’t anything new here, and it is almost the perfect song to sum up “What does ETID sound like?”. It has all of the elements that the band has perfected over the years. The bridge of the song could be its own genre of music, but they use the riff and melody for 25 seconds and never come back to it. If anything, this is a testament to how amazing the band is at crafting songs. They have always been great songwriters, but they seem to have perfected the craft at this point.
Getting into the second half of the album, we have “All This And War” which is just absolutely brutal from start to finish. Like the last couple of Every Time I Die Albums, we have a guest vocalist, and on this track, we have Josh Scogin from The Chariot/Norma Jean. Up until this point, lyrically it sounds like Keith has been reading some serious Nihilistic Philosophy material (He read “Fear And Trembling” for Low Teens, so he is no stranger to philosophy). This is bleak and disturbing. The music is complex and in odd meters. The whole thing is controlled chaos and bombastic. That is until…
“Thing With Feathers” is right in the middle of this album. For me, it represents a tonal shift that continues through a lot of the later songs. The song kicks off with a Radiohead-esque riff and vocal melody. It’s pure melancholy and surprisingly pretty. It’s hard to believe this is the same band that was screaming bloody murder about “Planet Shit” a few tracks ago.
“Thing With Feathers” features no screaming, no extreme time changes. In fact, it is actually kind of pretty. Andy from Manchester Orchestra makes a guest vocalist appearance on this track and adds to the overall somber mood. This is a total departure for Every Time I Die, and I think it’s the closest thing to a ballad we have ever got from the band. Not many bands would have the balls to put something like this smack-dab in the middle of a Metal album. But they not only do it, they make it work.
Just being honest here, but the rest of the second half of the album tries a lot of things that work, and a lot that kind of fall flat for me. That is not at all to say that the rest of “Radical” is bad. But the band does experiment with some new sounds and techniques that work most of the time, and sometimes are… just ok.
“Hostile Architecture”, and “AWOL” sounds like classic ETID, and so does “The Whip”. We have the pounding riffs, and time signature shifts that make ETID so unique. There is a full-on onslaught with the double bass groove and crazy dissonant guitar chord stabs. Keith’s acerbic wit is on full show with the lyrics, which I am sure will be sing-alongs later, at concerts.
Fear is a fetish and I am a masochist
I’m not ashamed of my shame, now that I gave it a name
I’m not ashamed of my shame, now that I know its name
By the time we get to “White Void” you are ready to hear something different, and that is exactly what you get. You get a chuggy southern rock riff and vocal melody (a staple of ETID) that soon turns into… something totally different. It sounds like the band has been listening to the Deftones, and I don’t mean that with any malice or venom. It is a departure and something new we have not heard before. Does it work? Sometimes...
The album ends with “We Go Together” which is the most out of character song for the band. There is a creepy synth sample that comes in and out of the mix. The lyrics are back to straight Nihilism to sudden hopefulness, and the vocals switch between screaming and singing flawlessly. About halfway through, there are big vocal harmonies that sound like a Queen song on LSD. Then, the creepy synth sample comes back in, and the song becomes almost schizophrenic to listen to… it’s really odd and I still don’t know how I feel about this closer.
Every Time I Die: Wrapping Up “Radical”…
Even if you are a casual fan of the band, I think “Radical” is worth checking out. There is a lot going on here. Every Time I Die has come a long way since I first heard them in 2005. Every record they seem to try something new, and throw a different curveball at us as listeners. I can definitely appreciate that, but I also give them a fair shake when I say that sometimes what they do works really well, and sometimes… not so much.
But here’s the thing: Even the worst songs from ETID are usually light years ahead of their peers. Every Time I Die seems to always be a step ahead of the pack. Keith usually takes the spotlight when it comes to the band, but the musicianship on this album is also next level. Whether you like the classic ETID or the more experimental side of the band, there is something for everyone here.
The subject matter here is pretty harsh. We have a country painted in turmoil with some of these lyrics, and no matter what your political leanings, it’s easy to see that things are definitely not okay. They have not been okay for a long time, and I think the subject matter of some of the songs addresses that in different ways. Both childish and naïve, and also well-studied and adult-oriented. There are some pretty rough digs at “Trump’s America” but there are also some moments of self-reflection and light. “Radical” is a journey.
I don’t usually “rate” albums because that seems like such a vapid way to score music. It’s not a competition, ya’ll. But if you held a gun to my head and made me spit out a number, I would say this is a 9/10. Every Time I Die has created an “almost masterpiece” with this album. Everyone in the band is approaching middle age, yet they have made some of these younger bands look really weak with this album. I honestly cannot wait to see what they do next.
Rating (Out of 5): 🤘🤘🤘🤘