Every Time I Die are the alternative music scene’s equivalent to a lengthy hitting streak in Major League Baseball. While quantified much different, the impeccable model of consistency is qualitatively one in the same. Surfacing in 1999 with a demo tape and 2000’s EP, The Burial Plot Bidding War, their full-length debut Last Night in Town arrived in 2001 and was succeeded by the universally acclaimed modern hardcore classic Hot Damn! in 2003. The Buffalo boys continued their ascension through 2005’s Gutter Phenomenon, 2007’s the Big Dirty, 2009’s [legendary] New Junk Aesthetic and 2012’s Ex Lives. Just when one would expect the musical recklessness and full-throttle head-banging to cease, 2014’s From Parts Unknown turned the chaos up even higher. Fifteen plus years into their storied careers, album number eight, Low Teens, has arrived. Here, Every Time I Die continues to build upon their already remarkable legacy. Low Teens is yet another base hit, another outstanding release from a band who consistently serves as an example of “how it’s done” for young bands everywhere.
Somehow, across eight studio albums, Every Time I Die has never once abandoned their true sound, yet each record continues to feel fresh and significantly evolved from the previous. If lead single “The Coin Has a Say” showed anything, it’s that the band’s unique breed of tenacious, southern-tinged, hardcore punk rock remains the driving force of Low Teens. While From Parts Unknown seemingly expanded on their heavier, more chaotic vein (thanks in part to production courtesy of Converge’s Kurt Ballou), Low Teens dives further into the groovy flair previously showcased on The Big Dirty or New Junk Aesthetic. The chaos reigns, however, on tracks like “Glitches,” “Petal,” and “Just as Real But Not as Brightly Lit.” “C++,” “1977,”and “I Didn’t Want to Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway” bring together the best of both sides of the band with furious breakdowns and some catchy, “dirty” riffage. There are a couple of more straightforward tracks on the album as well: “Two Summers” is the first entirely clean-sung track to hit their discography and display’s the bands ability to write a mean hook (though classic ETID tracks like “El Dorado,” “Wanderlust” and “We’rewolf” proved that long ago). “It Remembers” is a strangely different sounding track bridging Low Teens, and features a solid guest spot from longtime ETID-fanboy and Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie. The back half of the record is nothing short of impressive, as “The Coin Has a Say,” “Religion of Speed” and standard-edition closer “Map Change” are three of the best tracks to be found on any Every Time I Die record. “Religion of Speed” is a five minute epic, a rarity for the band, that never overstays its welcome, and follows the outstanding single (and song of the year contender) “The Coin Has a Say.” “Map Change,” however, maybe be the most memorably composed track the band has released and brings a fitting end to the record.
Although the rhythm section of the band may appear to be a revolving door of sorts in recent years, bassist Stephen Micciche and drummer Daniel Davidson anchor what is perhaps the best Every Time I Die lineup yet. Not one member’s creativity or talent is hidden throughout Low Teens, and founding members Keith Buckley, Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams continue to prove their progression as artists with each release. Guitarists Andy and Jordan provide pit-inducing riffage as the backbone of the album, just as they have time and time again throughout their careers. Keith Buckley’s unique, powerful vocals are as impressive as ever, and his sharp and often witty lyricism returns. Yet Low Teens exposes a different side of Keith, as he delves into personal struggles on several tracks. The lyrics hit even harder when considering they were written during a period when Keith’s wife was hospitalized due to complications with the birth of their daughter (NOTE: the family is now in good health). Poignant and often chilling, Keith Buckley channels the emotion into the performance of his career.
While many veteran bands seem to ditch their roots in favor of a more accessible sound, Low Teens showcases a band at perhaps their most resilient, truest form. Every Time I Die refuse change or jump on a trend, and continue to blaze their own trail while building upon a storied legacy with each release. Thrashing riffs and crushing breakdowns, coupled with an emotional roller coaster in the form of lyrical content, Low Teens features highlight after highlight, providing limitless replay-ability. Without a shred of a doubt, Every Time I Die have pumped out yet another modern hardcore/punk rock classic, and a surefire contender for album of the year with Low Teens.