Album Review: Every Time I Die - Low Teens
By Eli Shively, General Manager
Key Tracks: "Glitches," "Petal"
Every Time I Die don’t try to reinvent the wheel with each new release, but that’s far from a bad thing. The Buffalo metalcore quintet have reached their eighth full-length LP with Low Teens, and from a listener’s perspective there’s nothing all that new going on — just the same riff-heavy, southern fried aggression (topped of course by vocalist Keith Buckley yelling his head off) that’s been keeping them going all these years. For the band themselves, however, this probably feels like a major achievement. Heavy acts that don’t go the “traditional metal” route almost never make it to eight records, and even if they somehow manage that feat they’ve probably already lost themselves in the process.
Not Every Time I Die. They attack go-around number eight with the same blistering aggression and relentless pace that shot them out of the gate almost two decades ago, Buckley’s desperate cry of “Death can not tear us apart” kicking the album off with passion and vigor. He has a lot to scream about on Low Teens, which was inspired by his wife’s near death experience with a pregnancy complication, and leaves no thought unaired throughout its 13 tracks. The context of Buckley’s writing adds another layer of depth to his characteristically dark lyrics, with otherwise prototypical lines like “If I have to walk alone I’m giving up / I can’t stay here knowing love is not enough” (“Petal”) and “I saw the end and I was truly afraid” (“Glitches”) cutting especially deep.
The weak tracks here are especially weak, though — the band has a history of trying to slow things down towards the middle of the record, but this album’s attempt “It Remembers” doesn’t bear the same heavy-hitting effect “Turtles All The Way Down” (New Junk Aesthetic) and “Revival Mode” (Ex Lives) do. Instead it’s a bit of a yawner, as are “Just As Real But Not As Brightly Lit,” which takes forever to get going, and cookie cutter hardcore jam “1977.” New drummer Daniel Davison (ex-Norma Jean, Underoath) makes a hell of an effort kicking things forward through the latter, but it’s no use.
Low Teens, then, belongs somewhere near the middle of the Every Time I Die pantheon — nowhere near the snooze/cringe-fests The Big Dirty and Last Night In Town, but not quite on the level of metalcore masterpieces New Junk and 2014’s From Parts Unknown. If some of the less captivating areas were edited out, it’d feel a whole lot more cohesive and fresh, but instead the record drags on and on through tracks that don’t exactly feel up to par with everything else around them. For that reason, a full listen-through can be a bit of a letdown. LP eight isn’t without its triumphs — “Petal” is pretty much the best song the band’s ever written — but as a complete package it doesn’t feel quite right.