Sound — 8
They tour the tours, they pit the pits and their riff worshipping approach to hardcore is music to plenty of stretched ears, but New York's Every Time I Die seem more and more like a by-product of contemporary US metalcore than real purveyors of it these days. "Ex Lives" doesn't pound or lurch; it swings, and for all its rage it expresses itself with acute self-awareness. Tracks like "Holy Book Of Dilemma" will still give you whiplash if you're not careful, but speed is an afterthought so long as the riffs rock hard enough. They do most of the time thanks to the work of Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley.
Working with the band for the first time, Joe Barresi creates a mix which immediately eclipses those that have come before, and this knowledge shows in the performances, which are absolutely giddy at times. Raw, occasionally experimental and as decidedly "southern rock" as the press has always fancied the band to be.
Lyrics — 8
However, it remains very hard to dispute that ETID's unique selling point is their lyricist, Keith Buckley. It is through him that the band continually carve out a niche and find intelligent ways to feed their lust for aggression and brutality. As always, Buckley reflects a little on himself and a little on society, but it is with unprecedented seriousness that he approaches the microphone this time. There really are no party anthems or grinning tales from the gutter. Luckily, this has little effect on the man's formidable command of language as he reflects rather grimly on lives past and present.
Fans of Buckley's usual wit and diatribe may have less to feed on than normal as he addresses his demons head-on booze, women and societal pressures, mostly but simplicity does have its advantages. "What does he have that I don't, except you?" he asks on "Drag King", making subject and message clear as day and doing them some justice in the process. It's a brave and honest performance, and one that should be commended. He so often hides behind cryptic metaphors and clever wordplay but here he proves he can lay himself bare and still lead his band with a bit of class.
Overall Impression — 8
We may have something of a mismatch between music which marauds freely and lyrics which are bogged down in personal struggle, but it matters little at the end of the day. Perhaps the solemn new single "Revival Mode" is the best combination of the two, but for excitement, groove and immediacy it's best to just enjoy the tunes, which the band don't half make easy for you. If you haven't yet recognised Every Time I Die as a trailblazer in an oversaturated scene this might be your last chance to convert before people start to wonder whether your ears need a good cleaning.