Released: 2005, Ferret Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
After a thorough drubbing of Buffalo, New York’s Every Time I Die in both my Ozzfest 2004 and Sounds of The Underground write-ups, it’s a wonder that the copy of their latest CD that was sent to me didn’t contain a virus or a note etched in feces. Live, I thought this band was atrocious but, admittedly, that was my only exposure to them. Upon giving GUTTER PHENOMENON a few spins (and checking out previous release HOT DAMN!), I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard and thinking back, I have to question if this was the same band. Granted, the emo-core is out in full force but there is certainly more To Every Time I Die than I originally thought. Keith Buckley’s lyrics are simultaneously cryptic, intelligent and amusing and the songs are not as formulaic as most that teeter on the cusp of metal and hardcore. In other words, Every Time I Die does not deserve to be lumped in with the metalcore band of the week and while I won’t be shelling out for a lifetime membership to the ETID fan club, GUTTER PHENOMENON has certainly opened my eyes to what lies within them as musicians and songwriters.
“Apocalypse Now and Then” bursts out with a rollicking riff and Buckley’s emo vocals during the chorus are not far removed from those of Deftones’ Chino Moreno. The dirty riff that Jordan Buckley drops here could be yanked from the repertoire of any of the Sunset Strip sleaze rock bands of the late 80s and it is this mixing of styles that succeeds on many levels on the CD. “Kill The Music” follows suit with a similar approach and the Dillinger-lite spastics crossed with the whiny clean vocals pretty much set the pace for what is to follow. “Easy Tiger” is a mid-paced track that jumps into a solid groove and Buckley’s screeching vocals are full of piss and vinegar. “Champing At The Bit,” my favorite cut here is chock full of quirky time changes, sizzling guitar in the verses and an infectious chorus. Along with the rock guitar solo found on “The New Black,” these two songs demonstrate the goal of this album: stepping outside the confines of hardcore and metal. Aside from the lyrical approach, several moments stand out. “Guitared and Feathered” feature a bubblegum-flavored chorus of “whoa oh oh” that is so obviously tongue-in-cheek with its pop-ishness that one cannot help but smile. The handclaps on “Pretty Dirty” and “The New Black”’s overt statement of “It’s the new style and we know it” prove that this band is all about blowing conventions and expectations out of the water.
While GUTTER PHENOMENON sees Every Time I Die stepping far outside of the hardcore realm that plagued HOT DAMN!, many will be put off by Keith Buckley’s introduction of clean vocals to the music. His hardcore bark grew monotonous and it certainly does here too, so a bit of a change of pace is welcome. Still, tossing in two pointless guest vocals from Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way are almost indistinguishable from Buckley’s voice and as a result get lost in the shuffle.
If GUTTER PHENOMENON is a stepping stone to where Every Time I Die is headed, then the next release will be an interesting one. They can clearly see that the sun is setting on metalcore’s popularity and wisely avoid the pratfalls of that genre by reaching beyond the sameness of every other band. As a stand-alone release, yes, it is leaps and bounds above the hardcore-by-numbers HOT DAMN! but there are still some kinks to work out and it appears that Every Time I Die is headed in the right direction.
KILLER KUTS: “Apocalypse Now and Then,” “Kill The Music,” “Easy Tiger,” “Champing At The Bit”