Low Teens review by Every Time I Die

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  • Released: Sep 23, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (21 votes)
Every Time I Die: Low Teens

Sound — 8
From their extreme metal sound amalgamating parts of hardcore punk, southern metal and mathcore, to their notoriously witty lyrics, Every Time I Die have set themselves apart from their contemporaries as one of the more intriguing hardcore/metalcore acts of this era, as well as being the one of the most consistent. After signing onto Epitaph to release their fifth album, 2009's "New Junk Aesthetic," ETID's next couple of albums would bring forth some of their most chaotic songs to date, from the bounty of frenetic and techy riffs in 2012's "Ex Lives" to the breakneck-paced hardcore energy in 2014's "From Parts Unknown."

With that one-two punch investing primarily in an intense high gear, ETID's eighth album, "Low Teens," veers in another direction to tone things down a bit. Being their longest album to date - clocking in at 43 minutes - more songs on the album show ETID's initiative to build songs with more structure rather than the fleeting and chaotic riff-to-riff nature of their previous couple of albums. This is noticed from the get-go, where their hardcore/metal sound comes in easier-to-digest iterations in the early stretch of the album, like the hooky lead riffs in "Fear and Trembling," the straightforward hardcore of "Glitches," the "New Junk Aesthetic"-style southern metal cut of "C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)," and the metalcore-minded "Awful Lot." But what really spearheads this initiative for more stability is an increase in frontman Keith Buckley's clean vocals. With his singing voice getting more room to carry the melodic torch than his harsh vocals get to roughhouse in "Religion of Speed" and the wistful "Map Change," he completely abstains from harsh vocals in the southern swagger of "Two Summers" and "It Remembers" - the latter also includes guest vocals from Panic! At The Disco's Brendan Urie and is also the least aggressive song ETID have written in a long time, being pretty clear that this song is intended to be a reach at something more accessible than what they usually deal in.

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These things considered, one may draw to the conclusion with unease that "Low Teens" is easing up to the detriment of what they're most appreciated for and watering down their sound for worse, but ETID make sure to keep a grip on their chaotic Hyde moments to counter the contained Jekyll moments. "I Didn't Want to Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway" taps back into the frantic pace and odd measurements championed in ETID's previous album, "Petal" highlights the rhythm section with notable bass riffs and fits of blastbeat drumming, the fretwork gets good in "The Coin Has a Say" and even better in "1977," and the chock-full-of-riffs abundance of "Just as Real But Not as Bright" easily makes it one of the top contenders of the whole album.

Lyrics — 9
Still trudging through the concept of faith and doubt and its many paradoxes, Buckley's lyrics in "Low Teens" focus more specifically on the dichotomy of enlightenment and powerlessness that choosing or rejecting the belief in a higher power offers. The opening "Fear and Trembling" makes for a perfect microcosm of Buckley's feelings towards the prices that faith demands, where, examining Abraham's final test of sacrificing his firstborn to God, Buckley grimly states that Abraham was influenced more by the cruel bargaining nature of man rather than trusting God ("I am sorry, it's not right / But you are mine, a sacrifice / I was hopeless, I was tired / But we all kill to survive"). In other cases, Buckley rails on about that belief not being worth the prices paid in "Petal" ("First I need to save the life of God / So that God can come and save me from myself / If I have to walk alone I'm giving up / I can't stay here knowing love is not enough") and that faith not being sufficient for world peace in "Religion of Speed" ("My flower in your barrel hasn't stopped the slaughter yet").

But though this reasoning for being against faith is in hopes of transcending the transcendental for the real answer of enlightenment, Buckley also admits the unsustainable nature of trying to assume complete control. With "C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)" highlighting the frailty of being the sole operator of one's existence ("When everybody gets a universe / They can do what they want / I'm gonna need another universe / I tore mine apart"), and "The Coin Has a Say" showing the collateral of rejecting anything to believe in ("I will aimlessly wander this wasteland guided only by a sickness, not a purpose"), the choice of nihilism is one that doesn't offer solace in confirming one's complete inability to believe in anything but nothingness, as he articulates in the ending "Map Change" ("Clenched in the jaws of anguish / Are only godless men / Chaos is drawn to silence / Like life is drawn to death / The dusk is so much clearer / Than the dawn has ever been").

Overall Impression — 8
ETID have long established a style that works for them, and without choosing to deviate substantially from that sonic brand, "Low Teens" tackles the issue of keeping things fresh by not trying to one-up the increasing intensity of "Ex Lives" and "From Parts Unknown," but rather, spreading out its energy in different gears. Though the cases of songwriting that appeals to a more accessible and less aggressive sound will always be ambivalently received by a listenership that's used to balls-to-the-wall energy from start to finish, ETID still flaunt their known strengths of blistering speeds and talented riffs to clarify that they have no plans on turning away from their loud and angry side.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    this review is awful. First of all, the album's not about faith in god. It's about his wife and newborn child who both almost died due to health complications, and the internal battle that Keith had to face with the possibility of losing his whole family. Secondly, this is the greatest album of the fucking decade and nobody's ever going to understand why because reviewers always analyze music based on genre tropes and band's previous albums, rather than listening to the album as what it is - an emotionally charged and dynamic statement about desperation, fear, sorrow, pain, and most importantly, love. The album is way more powerful than just some metalcore outing. Probably the best album since Mastodon's Crack the Skye, though I think this album is better because it cuts out all of the bullshit "concept storytelling" stuff.
    Every Time I Die has never disappointed me. Ever. I first started listening to them regularly around 2006-2007, and it's just been one smashtastic album after another. I've seen them live, just before Ex-Lives came out (with GWAR, which was interesting), and it was one of the greatest shows I've been to. As for Low Teens, it gave me everything I was looking for. Consider my expectations exceeded; ETID continues to forge a path in their own special idiom, pushing their own boundaries without abandoning the intensity that brought them such high praise.
    Only just discovered this band recently, but this (and their previous album From Parts Unknown) are perfection. Great mix of melodic and chaotic, and a uniqueness to their sound that keeps it fresh. Not to mention the incredible lyricism
    Trust me listen to hot damn and gutter phenomenon they will grow on you
    For me, their best material. Musically, I think there's a perfect balance between hardcore, southern feel, groove and sludgy riffs. Vocally, Keith balances nicely between melodic and screamed vocals. Lyrically, the lyrics give such a feeling of hopelessness influenced by Keith and his wife's situation at the time (which oddly wasn't mentioned by the reviewer)...I can't help but feel fully identified with his feelings through his lyrics. I expected a quality effort, but this blew me away. A solid 9/10 for me.
    I'm glad he didn't bring up all the shit going on in Keith's life when the album was written. It may be written from his perspective and experiences, but we as listeners are supposed to grasp our own connection with the songs. That being said, I love the album. Been listening to these guys since their Last Night in Town e.p miraculously made it to small town, Texas. Still going strong.
    That's true man, but knowing such background gives you an insight on the state of mind of the writer, and evokes empathy as a listener and as a fan. Also, maybe I'm wrong, but people should be able to discern between the writer's purpose of songs and their own interpretation.
    It's also been mentioned a lot. I mean, Petal especially has got to make you think. When I first heard the lyrics, especially "I was born again as a girl" I didn't understand it so I asked and got the answers. The reviewer should've done the same.
    There is so much to be said about this album that no one has mentioned yet. First off, the Brendon Urie feature is easily the best feature I've heard this year, and possibly within the past few years, and I'm not even a big PATD fan. Not to mention Glitches easily takes the award for best breakdown of the year. The lyrics, and riffs on this album have to be some of their best yet, and I can't help but compare the riffs of Just As Real, But Not As Brightly Lit to Stray From The Path. They really experimented with tunings on this one too. I can't get enough of this album. One of my favorites this year.
    Brandon urie got etid new junk aesthtic album cover tattoo on his arm the least they could do is let him sing on a track
    the song writing continues to get better while the musicianship gets tighter. every album outdoes the last, i love this band.
    This album is a straight 10 for me. I've been an ETID for years but this album is amazing, it's like their 'best of' of their entire discography.
    From the first 10-20 seconds with that riff at the beginning I knew this album was gonna be awesome, map change is a beautiful masterpiece and everything in between is incredible...I'm so happy for these guys they work so hard and it shows and they appreciate their fans as well, it shows how modest they are for opening for a band like beartooth which everyone in the music community and the fans know it should be etid headlining instead but that's the kind of band they are and it makes me more of a fan of them, regardless I'm psyched to see glitches,the coin has a say, map changes, and i didn't want to join your stupid cult anyway live in november
    Well said. My date is on the 23rd this month. Not a huge Beartooth fan, but they're fun live. Fit For A King isn't bad either and their new album is pretty good.
    It has actually been a long time for me since an album hooked me up as much from the get-go as "Low Teens" did. I was never a big ETID fan before, I mean I knew them and I thought they were good and that's about it. I listened to "The Coin Has a Say" when it came out and was really into it so when the album was released I gave it a listen in the background while I was occupied with some other shit. And I found myself head bobbing literally every thirty seconds. So I listened again carefully and no 24 hours later I had the physical copy. Now I'm well into a dozen listens and I have yet to find a weak song or a even boring part. Easily the album of the year for me - perfect balance of chaos and melody, great mixing, and well-thought-out song structures. Best part about it is that I still have all their earlier albums to discover. Such a great feeling.
    I was never really able to get into ETID in the past, but I really enjoyed Low Teens and now find myself enjoying their previous releases. I think Thrice (To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere) is my number 1 album of 2016, but Low Teens is definitely 2 or 3.