8-Track takes a band with a storied history and identifies eight songs throughout their career that define their strengths as a band, musically, lyrically, and conceptually. Read previous installments here.
Where to begin with Every Time I Die, Buffalo’s favorite party animals? A career that has thrown out more filthy guitar licks and jarring breakdowns than a kegger at the Red Bull headquarters can’t quite be summarised in eight tracks; not quite anyway, but we’ve given it a go for our latest installment of the 8-Track feature here at Heavy Blog. Over seven albums and fourteen awesome music videos later, this mathcore/metalcore/hardcore/riffcore band have amassed a following that is just at home at Warped Tour as it is in that shitty venue in your hometown where people are scared of entering.
As usual, we’ve picked tracks that we feel best showcase this band across the years. We disagree on the best and worst albums and we can’t even agree on the best tracks from some of these albums, but we tried. We gave it our all, just like this band do with every show and every release. If you haven’t heard Every Time I Die before, this is a great god damn playlist for you to get stuck into. Enjoy.
Everyone seems to forget about the first album from these guys. While it’s still very rough and does not sound like they do now, noticeably lacking the “southern hard rock” charm they’ve worked into their sound, it does make for some damn fine metalcore/mathcore. The album is chock full of bangers, but none more so than “The Logic Of Crocodiles”. The beginning is standard mathcore, but then it builds into this really awesome breakdown towards the middle of the song that absolutely rips. It’s a shame these guys don’t really play too many songs from this album live, because it definitely could be turned into an anthem and become a staple. The most noticeable thing about this track is how harsh Keith’s vocals are over the entire thing. It sounds at many times as if he’s straining while screaming, which adds to the the sheer intensity of the song itself. There’s also some very cool chugging that goes on in the song, which is abrasive from beginning to end. Trust me, if you’ve never visited their back catalogue, now’s the time to do so, and you can begin with this piece of history.
As unique and abrasive as ETID’s early career was, it didn’t take long for it to catch on. Hot Damn! is considered the band’s breakout record, and with tracks like “Ebolarama,” it’s no mystery why the album caught on. Jordan Buckley’s guitar work bears a catchy mix of mathcore spunk and just the right amount of Southern charm to concoct infectiously aggressive riffing throughout the entire track. And while Keith Buckley’s vocals are commanding as always, it’s never clear which way he’ll stretch his larynx next. He’ll be moaning an eerie drawl one moment before launching into a manic roar the next. Of course, the highlights of the track – like every great ETID track – are the moments when the whole band lines up for a full-throttle romp, channeling the unbridled energy of their live performance. Ozzfest may be no more, but the band surely tore up the stage back in the day with tracks like “Ebolarama,” when they first started introducing themselves to audiences as their newest favorite band.
Can we all take a moment to look back on Guitar Hero 2 and appreciate what that game did for so many of (pre?)teens in our discovery of metal? Dethklok, Shadows Fall, All That Remains, and of course, Every Time I Die were included as bonus tracks to the game’s “official” setlist. Thanks to this game, Every Time I Die were brought into the mainstream for many would-be metalheads in the form of “The New Black,” an almost uncharacteristically catchy and anthemic rock and roll tune that downplayed their hardcore roots in favor of party-ready riffs and the sassiest of hooks. The group have since gone on to become mainstays in the genre — a no doubt creating masterpieces along the way — but “The New Black” maintains as the group’s most iconic track, and for good reason; revisiting this song will leave it stuck in your head for days on end, so get comfy.
At this point in Every Time I Die’s somewhat lengthy and unquestionably respectable career, no song perfectly encapsulates their signature sound quite like the intro track to 2007’s The Big Dirty, “No Son of Mine.” With both this record (and song alone) the band came steamrolling back after the oddly-flat mixing job that plagued 2005’s Gutter Phenomenon and positively pummel for the next three minutes. This track also boasts some of the finest Keith Buckley-isms in the land, including such greats like “leave your drunken accident at the prom,” “shoot that dog if we can’t afford to feed,” and the world’s finest breakdown accompaniment ever, “don’t ever say rock and roll.” Keith’s cryptic and often scatterbrained lyrics can probably be interpreted a number of ways, but his delivery and conviction is incontestable. Back this bizarre frontman up with some off-time, Botch-esque mathcore that’s as heavy on the dissonance as it is accessibility and you’ve got yourself quite a winning recipe. The song seems to begin collapsing about two-thirds of the way through, constantly pushing the band’s heaviness to new heights. It’s a remarkable opener, and it’s one of the band’s live staples for a reason. There were very few bands even attempting this sound back in its time, making “No Son of Mine” all that more unique in context.
Another fat, Southern sounding track crammed full of dirty guitar licks and Buckley poetry, “We’rewolf” is easily the most memorable track from The Big Dirty. The audacity required to kick off a track with straight cowbell hits is reason enough to give the party boys a clap on the back, but there is far more to this particular rager. At surface level, “We’rewolf” is a track written from the perspective of the perennial party animal, one I can empathise with down to a tee. “It’s a full moon, denim is tight and my flannel shirt is freaking out”. A real lyric in a real song and one that could only be taken seriously in sandwiched between dirty ETID riffs and a country lick that Muse DEFINITELY ripped off in “Knights Of Cydonia”, the scumbags. On arguably their weakest release, this track will always help dust off the air guitar skills of anyone shotgunning a beer or drinking a bar out of tequila. Things I love to do, especially with ETID blasting; it just makes sense to get shit faced listening to this track.
Biting sarcasm and a poet’s lyrical ability have always been trademarks of the Every Time I Die sound, and on their fifth studio album, New Junk Aesthetic, the band finally managed to hone those traits to a razor’s edge, such as is displayed on “The Marvelous Slut”. The track is a biting commentary provided by the band’s own vocalist, Keith Buckley, as well as The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato who helpfully chimes in during the choruses. In a way, it sums up nearly everything Every Time I Die is, speaking of their rather insane partying on the road (the “slut” Buckley refers to is himself, in reference to his own habits) all laid over the classic, southern-tinged metalcore attack that fans have come to expect. If anything, this song is a definitive crash course in the catalog of ETID, offering up all of their key elements in healthy doses all while still being compacted into a nice, two minute chunk for easy listening.
“Revival Mode” always sounded like an early Every Time I Die track slowed down to me. Seriously, imagine it played a good bit faster and it could be a B-side from Hot Damn!. The leering, creeper of a riff that lurches in and out of the track is almost dissonant, ties in with the vocal line on some of the notes and eventually gives way to an organ grinding verse that continues to keep the creep factor alive. On an album full of rambunctious rippers, this seedy track still blows up and into a big ETID refrain with a classic Keith lyric; “I need to pay the judge”, well, don’t we all eventually? While the band experimented with slow burning tracks right up until Ex Lives (and further, on From Parts Unknown), this is the first time that they perfectly balanced that finely tuned aggression with the nasty side of pop music. Finally, the guitar solo that ties up the final movement of the track is just phenomenal and is an example of how to get a guest musician to really raise the game of a track.
In my books, From Parts Unknown was one of 2014’s best. Although the album in its entirety has finally found its way out of my heavy rotation, I often find myself coming back to certain tracks – far and away the most notable of which is “Moor”. With its minimalistic opening, characterized by a marked piano motif over top of which Keith Buckley croons along with an eerie sense of calmness, Moor presents itself at first as an anomaly in relation to both the album, and, on a larger scale, to ETID’s entire body of work – that is, of course, until the track abruptly explodes into the aural barrage of pummelling power chords and fierce bellowing for which ETID have come to be known (and adored). The sudden impact only serves to magnify the mood conveyed by the callous lyrics spat by Buckley, who sounds at times as though he’s on the brink of coming unglued: “All I want is his head and this horrible fucking world will be wonderful again / There’s so much beauty and love and when I eat his beating heart I can bring it back to us.” No sooner is this line uttered in a final desperate croak than the track once again falls off into the simple piano-accompanied croon exhibited at the song’s start – only this time the calmness strikes as twice as distubring following the violent episode that is the song’s midsection. A final note in the lower register hangs in mid air to conclude the song, leaving the listener to whether wonder the madness that just hit them had really actually happened.