Every Time I Die Low Teens2016 Epitaph Records
Metallica without the drugs.
While “Low Teens” was still coming together Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley had his world torn out from under him. As he was out on the road, his wife developed a life-threatening condition while seven months pregnant with their baby girl, forcing a premature birth that gave him an all too close glimpse at the fragility of mortality. Though the pair are now both healthy, the feelings of panic, frustration and helplessness he felt during those trying times pervade this album.
Lyrically “Low Teens” is drenched in emotion—an unsurprising turn given that some of the words were written in the hospital while Buckley sat powerless by his ailing loved ones. With such an emotional powder keg on tap, he delivers his most personal performance yet, a vulnerable display where despair and hope entwine and bargaining gives way to the embittered acceptance of fate.
Layered with cagey riffs, southern charm and piercing tenacity, “Low Teens” doesn’t attempt to match the unhindered destructive capacity of “From Parts Unknown“. Rather than rampaging, the band are back to rowdily marauding. In fact, a clear highlight of the album is just how much depth they’ve crammed into their sonic sprints. The songs tend to hover around the 3-minute mark and still manage to pack in countless aural asides, be it a guitar part, keys, a chant or just a brief momentum shift.
With a bit more prominence in the mix, the meaty riffs ensure a unrelenting velocity that rarely calms. The punkish drumming also keeps the band buoyant, even during the scarce few slower numbers. As such, it’s easy to miss the numerous instrumental embellishments due to being overwhelmed by the sheer breadth and pace of what’s served up. Somewhere along the way, subtlety has become a specialty of the band and they have managed to make even the most direct ripper shared here harbor a few hushed scenic delights.
Of course despite much of the lyrical matter being easier to decipher, Buckley‘s lyrical prowess remains as shrewd and quick-witted as ever, with highlights like “I can’t go back to what I was, Metallica without the drugs” on “The Coin Has A Say” being just one of many nuggets of sarcastic wit and his exemplary ability to turn a phrase.
From the off-tempo melodies that emerge in the background of “Petal” to the wholly undeniable hook found on “Awful Lot“, “Low Teens” serves up some of the band’s most confident—and more importantly creative—work to date. Those concerned that they had lost their penchant for throwing a few key genres in a blender with their last album needn’t worry here. Their songwriting is back to developing and mutating in exciting ways, leaving much of this album an exhilarating, unpredictable thrill ride.
Just as the old and new facets of the band are represented on this effort, so are their influences. Be it the cameo from Deadguy, etc. belter Tim SingerFear And Trembling“, or Panic! At The Disco‘s Brendon Urie‘s expressive melodies on “It Remembers” cleverly countering Buckley‘s intentionally drab phrasing.
More so than ever before, Every Time I Die have created a definitive mix of what has made them a standout act. Their devilish recklessness and tuneful experimentation have been wound together tight enough to become a singular identity. In the past they were only able to mix and mingle, but on this latest affair, they’ve essentially made their Jekyll and Hyde wholly codependent.