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There's never had to be a comeback album for Every Time I Die. No slump has bed ridden the band or even pushed listeners close to any kind of panic of them possibly burning out. Multiple times across their career their lineup has changed and often has come to the assuring, "this is the best they (or we) have been." Something changes and the Buffalo quintet still manage to devour any expectations and spit them back out, proving their resiliency at never slowing down, never waning and never having to change what is best for the band in order to make every release trump the previous. When diving through their catalogue, it's impressive and slightly unbelievable.
It's 2016, nearly two decades of being a band, and Every Time I Die find a way to triumph in the face of doubt with Low Teens. Previous drummer Legs left the band, arguably a bit of the spark that shot them into the foreground again for Ex Lives, returning to create an unrelenting lightening strike of energy in From Parts Unknown. Next up to plate was Daniel Davidson, known for the drum work in Norma Jean and Underoath, but how would the drummer fair in tackling the challenge of Every Time I Die? They let the man write his own parts and give Low Teens the Davidson treatment, volleying through drum lines with incredible accuracy and a spice to make parts explode with rhythmic decadence. The ending runs in "Petal" are small bursts of swirling patterns to add to the already dizzying breakdown and vitriolic screams. "Awful Lot" is a bombastic assault able to take on the sludgy guitars and shine in the spotlight alongside the veteran riff masters Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams. Add Steve Micciche's growing prowess for bellowing bass lines ("C++ ) Love Will Get You Killed)" into the mix and every song's instrumentation is an orchestra of biting hardcore brilliance.
The main story that surrounds Low Teens is the mind shattering cataclysm of singer Keith Buckley's entire livelihood. Imagine watching the world ripping everything you love away from you, then imagine sitting in on the conversation of what is happening only to realize that you can't do anything to help and in no way it is your fault. The feeling of helplessness, uncertainty and the abandoning question of "why me?" ride through the lyrics and provide Buckley's most honest, ambitious, and haunting performance in the band's career. The gripping reality blends with the stellar instrumentation, forging Low Teens into an audible emotional massacre.
With every single part of Every Time I Die's engine tuned to perfection, each song has its own characteristic and edge that provide a unique part of the puzzle to what makes the whole of Low Teens that much greater. Not every song is a spitting fury of anger, not every song feels entirely hopeless, but all the songs together mentally derail from stability only to climb back with a cacophonous ring with deafening composure. "It Remembers" is a song where Buckley's voice is more reserved, almost meditative, trying to piece together exactly what the situation he has found himself in is trying to teach him. Brendon Urie's operatic highs ride the trudging pace perfectly, showing the band's intellect on making things fit without becoming overbearing. If there's no need for harsh vocals, then there is no reason to force it, right? "Two Summers" does exactly that. It's a southern riff unison with soaring vocals that resolve into a beautifully bitter ending.
And that bitterness is found within the virulent tracks as well. Opener "Fear and Trembling" pits Buckley against death itself, standing firm that while haunting and heart breaking, it cannot tear love apart (and if it does Buckley makes it known he is coming after the coward himself). But, what if love is not enough? It's a thought, hell in this world it's almost a reality, burning through the lyrics of "Petal" with the thought process of giving up. Low Teens' subject matter might be heavily tied in this instant of unknowing circumstance, but with that overall heartache it makes for a highly relatable subject matter. "Just as Real but Not as Brightly Lit" is a ravenous tune with parts strung together in a means that lets the song's vitriolic nature bite back with the imagery of Buckley guarding an empty house for what purpose then to feel purpose. "I Never Wanted To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyways" has the reminder, "teach me to breathe, don't let me think," while also sporting a pit crushing rally cry of "drink up." Penultimate song "1977" has the accurate statements of bearing life worth even when there's nothing but sorrow to black out the sun.
Lyrical brevity aside, Every Time I Die came together to write anthems ready to fuel anybody with energy, instilling a recognizable catharsis that has been fueling listeners since their inception. "Religion Of Speed" is a noteworthy track that highlights the band's incredible knack for songwriting, extending the length to a five minute epic that finds a clever way to bring back an infectious chorus; riding a slow, grinding breakdown to the song's end. Harsh and clean vocals bounce off one another in a blend of what the band has become known for, extended before with lead single "The Coin Has A Say." Then there is "Glitches," a speedy tune with a blistering vocal presence snapping to the drum work, tumbling to a fire breathing ending.
After rolling through the pummeling beginning twelve songs, Low Teens closes with "Map Changes," the biggest the band has ever sounded: infused with heart wrenching lyrics, an emotional guitar line and the best closing to ever be written by the group. The song is a flurry of all the stylings Every Time I Die have utilized in the past, crashing through parts with winding riffs, persistent vigor and knowing when to back off and breathe to capture something more than the moment, making time stand still in light of the insignificance that Buckley felt when dealing with the complications of his wife's childbirth. "The glory I had witnessed was just a slight of hand, these hearts cannot be salvaged, these bones cannot withstand. I have either been forgotten or I was never seen, now I'm in the negative space between," Buckley cries out in anguish before coming to the resolve. The biting familiarity of having something in front of you that you love so much feel out of grasp makes life feel inescapable, like there's no point to not recognizing that we all know hell, we all know heartache and we all know that ultimately, things happen without any specified reason. It's a triumph when love can overcome.
-- New Noise Magazine
item # 41412
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