Every Time I Die’s new album Radical was finally released on October 22nd after a year-long delay, and at least five different people of whom my (fleeting) presence left with a vile taste in their mouth — something like if you drank only cheap rum for 12 hours and then licked the dirty and crusty foot of a stranger and proceeded to chain-smoked three Marlboro 27s before immediately having your beloved partner tell you they never really liked you at all… not even a little bit at the beginning… — probably stumbled upon the news, groaned, and muttered “oh, lovely… I bet Rose Damian is fucking thrilled,” and they are right: I am so goddamn alive with the glory of nasty fucking RIFFS that I could run directly through a brick wall, but I’m not going to because I would inevitably hurt myself and that would make them happy when this is my special week!
This isn’t a “review” because I don’t know a goddamn thing about music and I am unapologetically biased… We all know that I fucking love Every Time I Die. I found them late in their career: While on tour in winter of 2015, vocalist Keith Buckley’s then-wife experienced life-threatening complications during her pregnancy that led to their daughter being born severely premature; instead of cancelling the tour, Jason Butler (Letlive., The Fever 333, Pressure Cracks) filled in for him. Letlive. were my favorite band at the time, so I watched a couple videos from these shows, and thought, “Damn… This is nice. I wonder if they’re just as good without him?” and thus (through incredibly grim circumstances that I would never admit had things not worked out for Keith and his family), I had the glorious experience of enjoying their entire catalogue for the very first time, and it’s an impressive one. ETID possesses some sort of magic lacking in many artists: They have never once regressed. Through subtle nuances, each album released is consistently better than the last, without diminishing the quality of the previous ones or ever not sounding like them. (I would be able to explain it better if I had the slightest goddamn clue how they do it; “magic” is my best guess.)
Turning 21 commenced a rough time for me, and finding them is one of the best things that’s ever happened to my mental health. A therapist would probably argue that I rely on them to childishly avoid confronting the myriad shitty parts of life, but their music and wonderful community of fans are probably the only thing that has ever made me feel better that isn’t going to destroy my lungs or my liver, so I think I am ok. I hope everyone finds something that brings them as much joy as Every Time I Die does for me, because after the past few years we’ve had, we all deserve it.
When Low Teens came out in 2016, I gave myself an hour before work to drive around and listen to it… and spent the entire hour with “Fear And Trembling” on repeat. It’s only been a week, and this album has sixteen goddamn songs, and I still go “WOOOOOOOO SHIT!!!!! THAT’S A BUTTERY GODDAMN RIFF!!!!!!!” when :25 hits in “Just As Real But Not As Brightly Lit” like I haven’t listened to it approximately 1000 times in the past five years, so it’s going to take me a while to take it all in…
In the meantime, here is my reaction to the album upon my first listen, cleaned up because I was about four shots of rum deep and eating a steak (like, there was actual A1 and grease stains and blood on my notebook). Again, this is not a review: OF COURSE, I LOVED THIS SHIT. 15/10 STARS. THREE THUMBS UP. A-O-T-NEXT-FIVE-Y(S). GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME. WHERE IS THE GRAMMY!!!!!!
Dark Distance: Keith is fuckin’ mad on this one… I’m not going to think too hard about how the lyrics — written and recorded in February 2020 — are about how we all need a good plague to reset society and instead, hope that he writes a little ditty about how a 27-year-old restaurant manager named Rose from Virginia needs to find a loving, tolerant partner who will pay for her to get a Brazilian Butt Lift!
Sly: This song makes me want to run around in circles like a cat who just took a huge smelly shit just as That Hot Guy From Instagram™ texts you that he’s walking up to your apartment but I actually did just that when they dropped the teaser for this song and ran my forehead straight into the fuckin’ thermostat and passed out….
(Did I mention that I’m 27-years-old? Give my love to Buffalo, indeed!)
Planet Shit: The most recently released single. The riffs in this song make me feel I got to the impossibly high speed level of Tetris, but took way too much Adderall so I actually lasted for three minutes and 56 seconds instead of screaming “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” and slamming my laptop closed.
While the quality of Keith’s lyrics play a large part in the reverence surrounding the band, that nice, clean, concise “fuck you, die” breakdown just hit the spot, man… You could argue with your COVID-denying-Antivaxxer-Qanon-boot-licking-Trumper of a fourth cousin on Facebook, but you could also just tell them that their baby has an abnormally large forehead, y’know?
Post-Boredom: I’m Haunted By An Eternal Return…. I Never Should Have Allowed It…. I Broke My Own Heart I’m Trying To Convince Myself That I Can Suffer If I Want Motherfucker Just Put Me Back On Your Shelf…
A Colossal Wreck: I’ve had nearly a year to marinate on this and the next one, but: IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII SHOULD HAVE BEEN BAPTIIIIIZZZZZZZZZZZEDDDDDDDD DEATHS PERFECT SHIIIIIIIIIIIIINE IS IN MY EYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYES NOOOOOOOOOOOOW I’M JUST KILLING TIIIIMMEEEEE UNTIL TIME DECIDES I’VE HAD ENOUGH
Desperate Pleasures: When this first came out, I fucking loved the “it’s almost unbearable/ honestly? terrible” part… It was good to see Sassy Keith back after the grim undertones of Low Teens, and “you got it bad?/ try having passion/ try still believing that some good will happen/ though nothing ever has/ and nothing ever will/ ‘cause nothing ever can” has been my go-to reaction to every inconvenience in my life, such as when I have to hobble to the other bathroom with my pants around my ankles to wipe my ass because it was a shit-emergency and there was no time to check for TP, or when my favorite gas station is out of Marlboro 27s so I have to buy Southern Cuts, or when two horny assholes on a first date are so ensconced in each other’s loving gaze that they keep me at work so late that the grocery stores are closed when I finally get out of that bitch and I was really craving steak…
All This And War: Alright… I have a lot of things to say about this one, and most of them are stupid, so I will start with outing myself (ONCE AGAIN) as one of the last remaining The Walking Dead fans… but many of y’all gave up when Glenn died, right? Even though we all knew it was coming? And then when they first killed off Abraham instead, you sat there, thinking “surely, they won’t do it… Abraham got it instead! It won’t be Glenn… Those silly producers have thrown us a twist once agai—OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH GODDDDDDDDDDD THEY DIDDDDDDDDDDD IT HIS FUCKING EYEBALL IS HANGING OUT OHHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”? That was me, gasping and clutching my pearls when Josh Scogin barged in for his feature like I wasn’t warned, and oh, he arrived… He Kool-Aid-Manned that fuckin’ door! He heard that nasty-fucking-redneck-bar-brawl-ass-beater of a riff and had something to say!
You know that meme of Anderson Cooper interviewing the Trump family and Melania interrupts him and says “hell00oo00ooOOOO” and he pauses before asking something like “Melania… Is there something you want to say?” and it’s beautifully edited? That’s from 2:00 on in this song, but it’s not so bad it’s funny… it’s fucking deliciously vile… just buttery. Keith said it was the heaviest part they have ever written, and I think he is right.
(I assume they will be playing this live at Shitmas and during their December tour, and I would like to note that if the man who I kneed in the balls at Shitmas 2019 from the essay “Sir, She Absolutely Drank Too Much This Evening, But We Think It Was The 47 Stab Wounds…” in Nothing I Do Is Funny Anymore is near me at the time, he shouldn’t be — this time, he will leave with no balls.)
Thing With Feathers: So, again… I had a lot of rum leading up to the release of this record because it was my Special Day™, I was excited, my steak was resting, and my gastritis had cleared up enough to where it seemed like I could go back to my old overindulgent ways as long as I stayed away from spicy ham. Along with the record, they dropped this song with an accompanying video at midnight: It’s a tribute to Jordan and Keith’s sister Jaclyn, who was born with a rare disease that rendered her unable to learn to talk or walk with a life expectancy of usually 36 years, who died on her 36th birthday. It is beautiful and far different from anything they have ever released, but with Andy Hull (another absolute God)’s help, they nailed it: It felt natural and fits right in.
You see, I wasn’t feeling natural… I was drunk, so I tainted the beautiful backstory of this track by sending it to a man that I had finally grown exhausted with after a decade-long affair, because… In A Long Dark Night… You’ve Always Been A Light…. I Think We’re Done Here… and I deserve a roundhouse-thai-kick to the windpipe and a community service sentence for soiling this with my indecency and lack of common sense… …HAUNTED BY AN ETERNAL RETURN I NEVER SHOULD HAVE ALLOWED IT…
Hostile Architectures: Keith told Twitter in January 2021 that he and his wife had separated and was initially vague about the details in interviews for what he admitted was “legal issues.” He has mentioned enough details since then for me to garner that they (more or less) hated each other for their entire relationship and were forced to finally face that harsh reality once the pandemic hit and he was no longer touring for nine months out of the year. I took this as an excuse to examine Low Teens with a different eye, declare that his first novel Scale was — just as I had suspected — more of an autobiography than he was willing to admit, and clear up a few “??? sir, surely, you don’t mean that?” moments from their album Ex-Lives and New Junk Aesthetic.
Now, I fucking love this song — the “there’s too many ghosts, not nearly enough spirit/ you hate to hear/ don’t you just hate to hear it?/ I know, I know, I know you hate to hear it” part slaps just as hard in full as it does when they dropped the teaser and I ran around in circles like a cat who just took a huge smelly shit just as That Hot Guy From Instagram™ texts you that he’s walking up to your apartment, and smacked my toe on my 400 pound TV and shattered it (did I mention that I’m 27-years-old?), but had they not broken up… What was he gonna tell her about this one? It’s no “Lovebites and Razorlines” by Glassjaw, but unless he had just fired their gardener because he found his daffodils wilted or was impetuously dropped by his car insurance company, there’d be some explaining to do…
AWOL: This song is smooth, with a Glassjaw reference. One thing I love the most about ETID is that there is always some point in most of their songs where I have no fucking clue what they are doing with their guitars…. at all; I am following and then, I am completely lost. It’s a sharp, clean, metallic PANG PANG pin pin pin PANG PAN PANG and then it’s VVVavvvVVAAVVVOOOVOOovoovvoOVOOOOOooo and I don’t know what the fuck’s goin on because they squished fifteen riffs in two minutes and ten seconds but I like it because Chaos Reigns and this is some of Keith’s best vocals since “Religion Of Speed” (Low Teens).
The Whip: The riff at the end of “El Dorado” from From Parts Unknown is quite possibly my favorite of all time — I would walk down the aisle to it — but the breakdown at the end of “Idiot” from the same album is fucking FOUL, and this song is that breakdown… for two minutes and 30 seconds straight. It’s heavy and disgusting in a way that you can only shrug your shoulders and go, “Well…. SHIT!!!!! ALRIGHT!!!!!”
White Void: I first heard this song live a few years back, and I must admit that I texted all my friends who love ETID in distress, for it sounded like… Chevelle, but I love Chevelle, so that was an inaccurate comparison made in haste due to panic: It sounded like horny buttrock that your drunken uncle who is creepy (not towards you… just to you because he has no sense of boundaries and what is ok and not ok to say about your brother’s new girlfriend that he brought to the cookout to one’s own niece/nephew) would love… which is no Chevelle and I am sorry to them for saying that. Had all I heard was this and they released “Post-Boredom” as the first single, I would have panicked and figured they had finally gotten too old and I would be forced to either have to dig up a reason to carry on in my sad, meagre existence or rolled off a cliff… but I knew better: “White Void” is ETID’s version of a sexy, seedy, jukebox ballad that they managed to work in their 50th reference to Nietzsche’s “…and when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” quote, and yet another bullet point added to Keith’s resume of superb vocal range.
Distress Rehearsal: Yes!!!! Scream out an uplifting message about how taking a leap of faith into the absurd (or whatever the hell Kierkegaard constantly blabbed about… y’all know I was too dumb to adequetly read his shit) can sometimes be the best thing that’s ever happened to you in your miserable goddamn life over a NASTY ASS RIFF SALAD!!!!
(….I wish they placed this before “Thing With Feathers” because I might not have been a stupid whore, but that’s not anybody’s fault but my own.)
sexsexsex: Months ago, Keith surreptitiously played this on his Twitch stream and thought we would all be distracted by the fact that he can’t stop sucking total ass at Fall Guys to notice, but I rewound, grabbed my headphones that I use for porn, and got a pretty clear listen of it because — like sex(sexsex) — I was pitifully deprived of ETID and there was no reprieve in sight… Anyway: I GOT A DEVIL INSIDE SIXSIXSIXNINE!!!!!
People Verses: What a goddamn theatrical-power-stadium-ANTHEM; the “Indian Giver” (Ex-Lives closer) of 2021 with a far less miserable meaning because Keith had finally (sort of) stopped lying to himself in lyrics. Never trust a man, never trust a man, never trust a man who… NAHHHH, WE WILL END IT AT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!
We Go Together: The final track that I don’t think this song is like anything they had ever done before!
…With that being said, it’s hard to top “Map Change” (Low Teens)!
(I think they should have concluded the album with “People Verses”…)
(now, ETID doesn’t have a “bad” song…)
(so I am not saying that this is a bad song…)
(but it is hard to top “Map Change”…)
(…and I think they should have concluded the album with “People Verses.”)