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Music Review: Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic

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Take the more violent genres of punk rock and cram them into a southern rock n’ roll blender. You’ll have something like our Buffalo, New York native hard rockers, Every Time I Die. Metalcore? They're often described as such, but what does that even mean? Every Time I Die is the kind of name that can easily be mistaken for a cheesy death metal group. I never looked into what their name really meant and I hadn’t realized it until now. ETID has always been about having fun and never taking themselves too seriously. The name embodies their tongue-in-cheek humor. It’s a funny twist on an otherwise stone-faced, metalhead façade.

ETID’s albums have been consistent, evolving only where needed while staying faithful to themselves and their fan base. New Junk Aesthetic is a combination of 2005’s Gutter Phenomenon and 2007’s The Big Dirty and an ever so slight step up from each. Gutter Phenomenon suffered a bit from a weak mix as ETID didn’t sport solid production until The Big Dirty. The trend carries over, more finely tuned, into New Junk Aesthetic, boosting their white-knuckle hard rock sound with excellent production value.

“Roman Holiday” opens the album with some tastefully nasty guitar noise. It's a rather unique opening for ETID, as they typically barge through the gates guns a' blazin’ with high energy, full throttle metal n' roll. The song instead unleashes an epic, ground stomping sound, as if ETID is saying, "Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere we want to." Keith Buckley’s words punctuate the purpose of their grand entrance and pronounce their unabashed intentions for New Junk Aesthetic:

Ring this, bring this, bring this
I want the righteous roots
I want the fresh meat
I want the first born
I want the dead beat

The moment their second track ignites, I remembered exactly why people love ETID. “The Marvelous Slut” will tell you exactly who ETID is and why, delivering what they've always done best: bring the energy of a rock n' roll attitude from the aggressive depths of a younger metal world. The tradition continues in “Who Invited the Russian Soldier,” breaking their riffs down into half time for that infectious head-bobbing that ETID is consistently most guilty of.

The first video released for New Junk Aesthetic was for the song “Wanderlust.” While this one is certainly the most radio friendly of the bunch, it is still one of the outstanding tracks on the album. Very tight songwriting in a more radio friendly key helps showcase everything about why Keith Buckley is the perfect front man for their sound.

“For the Record” smashes in the next door immediately after "Wanderlust." No lead- in. No warm-up. The whole band kicks off simultaneously into the trademark ETID style then drops a bomb of a breakdown hearkening back to 2001's Last Night in Town days where ETID firmly established their neck-breaking sound as a formidable crowd pleaser.

The next track, “White Smoke,” is tight and varied before feeding us a glimpse of Keith Buckley's unfortunately underused singing capabilities. The song closes with a chuggy drop that pounds you into the dirt. As if that wasn't a powerful enough closer, ETID adds insult to injury by slowing the riff down only slightly, prolonging notes and replacing dissonant highs with deeper chords as if jamming their boot into your throat, making sure you're not getting back up.

“Turtles All the Way Down” opens with a classic rock drum fill followed by full extravagant chords. Every few bars ETID moves to a quicker timing, punching the kick drum into every note for a sound that shoves you beat for beat further into the song as it jumps from time change to time change. “Turtles” feels like ETID copied and pasted all the good parts from songs left on the cutting room floor and strung them all together in a satisfying metal romp.

A dissonant groaning guitar opens “Organ Grinder,” sounding like an ominous swarm of flies is on the horizon, seeking human flesh. Drummer Ryan Leger smacks you around at an incessant pace with his snare that leads into one of this album’s coolest riffs. After an amusing four-count cowbell, the riff slices happily at you, appropriately complementing the song's title. The notes alternate from high sinking scales into the same riff lower on the neck. It's one of ETID's most fun riffs that they, of course, drop over the summit into a half time breakdown a couple of measures later. The close of the song sports a variation on the breakdown that Keith Buckley's syllables slam head first into on every note and every kick.

“After One Quarter of a Revolution” is the most riotous and violent track on New Junk Aesthetic. The drums cram snares and kick into an ETID barrage of one of the angriest tracks on the album. “Revolution” switches gears much later in the track into a gut-busting change that drives the message in deep, even if you missed the lyrics.

“Buffalo 666” is the other track sharing its energy with “After One Quarter of a Revolution.” The sound is abrasive and unforgiving, crushing your speakers with riffs from all corners of the heaviest and darkest parts of ETID's influences. If you want the quintessential hardest and heaviest from this album and possibly ETID's entire library, here's your demo song to turn your uninitiated friends onto one of southern hard rock's most visceral acts to come around in a long while.

A curiously flimsy riff introduces us to New Junk's finisher, “Goddamn Kids These Days.” The riff comes to life a few bars later, throttling you with good ol' fashioned ETID. The song is pretty standard for ETID and unfortunately not the best choice of a close, but not a weak song by any definition.

While titles like “The Marvelous Slut” and “Who Invited the Russian Soldier” are hilarious in or out of context, I do miss the clever portmanteau of previous album's song titles, but that’s just a nitpick. New Junk Aesthetic delivers on clean, heavy production that compliments ETID’s sound better than all previous outings, while sprinkling in a couple of punk and old school rock n' roll surprises that I omitted from review. Every Time I Die has yet to disappoint in spite of the sell out scare of 2003’s Hot Damn!, which I personally loved. They soldier on and embrace the rock n’ roll attitude on and off stage even when it has always seemed so tempting to them to throw in the towel and give us what MTV says we should want.

Songs like “Wanderlust” or Hot Damn’s “Ebolorama” can easily be degraded by fans because of their more melodically inviting, radio sound. I, on the other hand, thoroughly respect a group that can change the pace up, preventing the comfort of their style getting stale or monotonous – especially when it’s written so well. Every Time I Die delivers yet again with New Junk Aesthetic on relentless grooving riffs and neck-cracking breakdowns at every turn. It’s a huge lead ball of the heaviest and darkest southern rock n’ roll around these days and better be on regular rotation in the cars and iPods of fans everywhere.

New Junk Aesthetic is available now from Epitaph Records.

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About Jesse G. Barnes