With this sixth full-length album Every Time I Die find themselves as the elder statesmen in a genre long since overrun by the youth. Fitting it is then on “Ex Lives” that the band quickly establish the persona of the proverbial grizzled drill sergeant of the scene — constantly showing and proving how it’s done on the back of knowledge and experience, rather than gimmicks and imagery.
As with any Every Time I Die record the lyrical content is not only clever, but wholly introspective. Keith Buckley‘s depth and mastery of turning a phrase, not to mention his vocal talent, leaves the longest lasting impression. His infectious croons and hostile barks convey heartfelt passion and menace with an admirable amount of boyhood recklessness. While his keen wordplay and playful phrasing continue to delight.
But for as far as his erudite smugness and shit disturber attitude carries the songs; the rest of his bandmates are always right behind him taking some surprising chances. “Ex Lives” is easily the most diverse listen of the bands back catalogue. It encompasses many of their past releases finer traits and (re)introduces some bold steps for them in the process.
Whether it be the moonshine belching, hillbilly heroics found on “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow“; or the downtrodden sincerity featured on “Revival Mode“; Every Time I Die are out to redefine themselves — or at the very least their personal limitations.
This increased freedom can take them to some rather interesting haunts; with the spacey Cave In-reminiscent ascension found on “Indian Giver” being a prime example. But for as much brazen new ground touched upon here there’s just as much unflinching dissonance and volatile riffing. Not only have this outfit they upped their combustibility, but they’ve increased its effectiveness and lethality.
Such a frenzied assault can admittedly become a bit tiresome in places. It can also affect the general cohesion of the album as a whole. But a lack of a unifying theme isn’t so much a bad thing. Rather it just causes some of the more radical songwriting departures to shine even brighter.
From start to finish “Ex Lives” is an exceptional listen. It perfectly captures the visceral metalcore/post hardcore antics the group are known for balancing so astutely. It may ride a razors edge in terms of which side each song, or even each verse/chorus, leans toward; but above all else it always delivers a liberating dose of much needed chaos and wit.
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