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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    As brutal as ever: Every Time I Die’s Ex Lives

    As brutal as ever: Every Time I Die’s Ex Lives

    In the modern metal scope, bands are revered as classic if their longevity spans more than five years. Somewhere in the oppressive atmosphere of metalcore, cookie-cutter touring acts, and hairstyles that make most girls envious, Buffalo, N.Y.’s Every Time I Die remains on its own plane.

    Most groups in the ever-shifting metal category should never last as long as this group has, yet the quintet defies traditional industry logic with its inventive style, timeless lyricism and relativity. This is the band that can go from onstage gods to the guys at the bar with an approachable nonchalance, making Every Time I Die an absolute rarity in music today.

    Personas aside, Every Time I Die has been cranking out consistently incredible music for 14 years — and the latest album release, Ex Lives, is a highly anticipated addition that delivers riots by drawing on old formulas and new inspiration.

    Of the entire Every Time I Die catalog, no album has felt so collectively self-aware as Ex Lives. Vocalist and lyricist Keith Buckley has channeled a quarter-life crisis into a relatable sentiment that muses on the herd mentality of his peers. Buckley’s lyrics, which include Friedrich Nietzsche references and violent sarcasm, have always been a treat to hear and to dissect, but one feels familiarly uneasy listening to Ex Lives. However, this fact shouldn’t scare off listeners. Solace can be found in Buckley’s miserably thematic musings without feeling self-deprecating or pretentious.

    The frenetic opener “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” captures this motif perfectly with a distorted Buckley chanting, “I want to be dead with my friends,” over a mathcore melody. The song only pauses three-quarters through to dive into a swaggering downtempo riff that’s far slower than any other track to date, yet just as brutalizing. It’s clear from this introduction that Ex Lives is a calculated clusterfuck, perfect for flipping cars and inciting riots.

    Although the overall theme of the album is brooding introspection, there’s always that one song on any ETID album that is the ideal soundtrack to slamming tequila shots. “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow” is a tongue-in-cheek masterpiece with its banjo opening and Buckley’s Southern crooning. It quickly blooms into a palm-muted chromatic frenzy, serving the band’s canon right by inspiring the listener to drink 100-proof liquor and make bad decisions.

    “The Low Road Has No Exits” breathes fire while incorporating all of the post-The Big Dirty ETID elements. A bouncy two-note opening line makes way for a melodic onslaught ravaged by Buckley’s strained vocals. Vicious halftime breaks are a hallmark of the album, and even they feel faster than they should be on this song, which closes with a minute of atmospheric noise akin to a cleaner version of the intro to “Roman Holiday.”

    If there were a post-apocalyptic land dominated by leather-clad strippers and ruled by Mad Max, “Revival Mode” would be its national anthem. It’s a slower, woozy headbanger that fully expresses Ex Lives’ dark sentiment, with guitarist and sibling Jordan Buckley shredding his ass off halfway through. The track is a reflective breather from many of the other tracks, allowing the listener to give their neck muscles a break before diving into the power-chord bulldozers that encompass the album’s last three songs.

    Ex Lives’ slightly remodeled take on ETID’s sound will definitely polarize some of the band’s cult following. Like any hardcore band, fans whip themselves into a frenzy at the first inkling of a new musical direction, but everything on Ex Lives seems positive. The most prominent example is the energy that drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger brings to the album. Rather than other band members driving the tempo, as they have on previous albums with former drummer Mike Novak, Leger’s tailored style puts the band through the paces on “Holy Book of Dilemma” and “I Suck (Blood).” This welcome addition to the ETID lineup seems to have incited a revival for a tenured act, making its musical interaction tight from experience yet simultaneously bright-eyed and raw.

    Throughout its entirety, Ex Lives hardly lets up on its auditory onslaught. Between crisp vocal lines and larynx-shredding screams, the angular guitar parts, and the most technical drumming on an album to date, it’s clear that Every Time I Die still reigns supreme. The band has transcended typical demographics and defied genres for years, and here’s hoping that doesn’t change anytime soon.

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