Every Time I Die creates chaos with Ex Lives

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A self-proclaimed mix between a “Buffalo Bills tailgate party and a high school kegger,” metalcore ensemble Every Time I Die embodies the chaos that is bound to ensue if said high school kegger were busted by the cops. Their abrasive and menacing guitar riffs switch between spastic metal heaviness and experimental technicality. The band’s latest release, Ex Lives, showcases the band’s take-no-prisoners sound, causing a ruckus in every direction.

Album opener “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” explodes with Norma Jean-like intensity; synchronized guitar riffs send blow after blow to an onslaught of gigantic drums, while vocalist Keith Buckley’s gurgled screams screech above the cacophony. Chaos is beauty for Every Time I Die. Their low-tuned guitars release hellish moshpits that are bound to leave you battered and bruised, but with a sadistic, Fight Club-era Edward Norton smile.

Of course, the band has southern metal tendencies that contribute to their unconventional sound. “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow” is a great example of that: it begins with a jangling banjo, before going into distorted and evil guitar. “I used to be a goddamn saint,” screams Buckley. However, the singer seems to have lost his way as he humorously discusses tales of promiscuity and drunkeness.

Buckley’s lyrics have always had a dark humor to them. Considering one of his writing tactics involves getting incoherently drunk and seeing what he can create, it comes as no surprise that Buckley’s delivery is often times twisted and hyperbolic, with thoughts so demented you can’t help but laugh.

Each song keeps the momentum going until the very end. That said, it can also become redundant at times, a common problem in metalcore music. In getting stuck in the hardcore punk speed and metal riffs, things begin to sound like one long, continuous song. Luckily, Buckley’s alternating between screamed vocals and clean vocals, keeps the album from being completely repetitive. “Revival Mode” showcases that alteration. It has an Alice In Chains atmosphere to it, with Buckley’s shaky delivery hauntingly impressive.

The group’s departure from Ferret Music to Epitaph Records seems to have worked out for the band. On Ex Lives, Every Time I Die have retained their aggressive sound, but it’s much more polished. It serves as an indicator of the band’s transfer from a label associated with metalcore acts such as See You Next Tuesday and Misery Signals, to a label that features an eclectic roster of punk, rock and post-hardcore.

Ex Lives is head-bashing fun. It finds a balance between dark melodies and guitar technicalities, and the outcome is brain-meltingly good.  

Printed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 as: Metal meets country in Ex Lives