I used to dismiss Every Time I Die because I’ve never really liked that style of music – crazy hardcore/metal with a vocalist who yells things I can’t understand. I saw ETID at a Warped Tour about 5 years ago, and the crowd went apeshit for them, which was fun but confusing as well, since I didn’t “get” the band.
With that said, ETID’s new album New Junk Aesthetic, which dropped last week, threw me across the room and kicked my ass, laughing maniacally. The album may only have 11 tracks and run 31 minutes long, but it packs a lot of power into that time frame. What caused me to switch sides, and become an ETID supporter? It could have something to do with the fact that my roommate has a man-crush on the band and blasts their music practically every day from his room. I’ve heard the songs a lot, and have learned to appreciate them, I guess. In addition, I know the dudes in ETID are hilarious. Keith Buckley, the singer, was a high school English teacher (lolz) before forming the band, so he knows his way around a phrase or two. I usually can’t really understand what the hell he is saying in any of their songs, but when I read the lyrics that go along with the noise they sound poetic. Buckley uses a creative sense of wordplay with his songs, and as a snooty English major myself, I can get down with that.
As for New Junk Aesthetic…whatever that phrase means, it is synonymous with "killer album". Ever since I heard the song The New Black, I’ve preferred the ETID songs with chunky butt-metal riffage and breakdowns over their more hardcore, super-sped-up-riffs-and-Buckley-shrieks songs. The tunes on NJA are a mix of both styles.
One of the last words I’d normally think of using when describing an ETID song would be ‘atmospheric’, but the opener Roman Holiday is just that. It has these buzzy guitars and a pounding rhythm that is coupled with a great background vocal harmony that sounds both ominous and dramatic, over which Buckley exclaims, “We are the death of the party, we are the life of the funeral”, a good example of his lyrical chops. See what he did there, playing off the juxtaposition of “death” and “party”, “life” and “funeral”? That’s some deep English major-y stuff right there. I approve.
That song feedbacks into The Marvelous Slut, with lyrics about vultures stuffing their mouths and other such things, set to a choppy rhythm that is more hardcore than metal.
Who Invited the Russian Soldier? is similar to the previous track, with more fast aggressive “chugga chugga” guitar work and Buckley waxing poetic about how “You’re gonna wish you were me when the unsuspecting are dragged to their grave”. It’s a mammoth of a song, really, with a breakdown at the end (yes!) that must please the windmill kids at the hardcore shows.
Wanderlust is by far my favorite song on the record, and of ETID’s career, I’d say. It’s got some excellent guitar noodling, a fantastic rhythm and some singing (!!!!) vocals by Keith and great melodies. Yes, you heard that right, MELODIES! I rejoiced upon hearing this song the first time, as it’s a far cry from the schizophrenic hardcore stuff they do on a regular basis. I really like it when the band is able to set their aggression to a solid, catchy melody, and Wanderlust does that in grand fashion. Keith does a lot of yelling on this one too, but I like how he includes some melodic singing as well. It stands out due to how the layered vocals work with the meaty riffs and almost blues-y rhythm that drives the song. Check out the song's video to see for yourself how cool it is.
Turtles All the Way Down has some more cool eerie background vocals that help it stand out a bit, as well as a catchy riff, the kind for which I am a sucker.
Host Disorder has a nice stop-and-go sound, with the guitars giving way to Buckley and then combining all together for a whirlwind of pissed-off-yet-intellectual noise, with of course more riffs. Some of the other tunes are a bit same-ish in sound, but they’re alright overall.
In closing, New Junk Aesthetic is sure to please most ETID fans out there. I appreciate the band’s overall sound and how they bring more to the table than most cookie-cutter hardcore bands with yelling vocals. ETID have a unique (for the genre, anyway) sound with actually meaningful lyrics and pretty solid instrumentation, and for the most part, the new album kills.
This is a good record to blast when you’re burning down the freeway, pissed off, or just in the mood for something that will kick your ass and (if you can understand the lyrics) enlighten you at the same time. Just don't windmill into me at a show, I wouldn't appreciate that too much.