EVERY TIME I DIE- Low Teens
This might never have happened. Since 2014’s stellar ‘From Parts Unknown’ the line up and lives of Every Time I Die have been overturned. The band are used to upheaval of course, they’ve barely gone two years without changing at least one member, but real life kicked their door in with dumb, ugly force at the end of last year. Out on tour, frontman Keith Buckley was informed his wife was in hospital with a life-threatening pregnancy complication.
Mother and new daughter are, thankfully, doing fine but Buckley has made one thing brutally clear, if he had lost his family he wouldn’t have hesitated to end his own life. The experience, and the clarity of thought that clearly came with it, is cut through the entirety of ‘Low Teens’. There is talk of birth, death, hospital rooms, and lines like “There’s a vacuum where the brightest future was, I’d better warm up my gun in case love is not enough”. Sure, some of Buckley’s usual lyrical wit is present, there are sarcastic jabs at gluttony and religion, but mostly everything is very serious. It’s all painfully honest, more than enough to form an unwelcome lump in your throat, and screamed with typical violent precision.
It hasn’t inspired any great shift in the New York outfit’s acerbic sound. If you know Every Time I Die then you know what to expect here. Opener ‘Fear and Trembling’ starts with a squealing, drunken riff before closing like a steel trap, the frantic ‘Glitches’ shows off new drummer Daniel Davison’s real skills, and ‘I Didn’t Want to Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway’ is southern rock at light speed. Some might find fresh darkness in the low bass tones of ‘Awful Lot’ but ‘Low Teens’ really isn’t sonically bogged down by its lyrical turmoil. ‘Two Summers’ is a grungy, melodic treat, the serpentine riffs (and kick ass Metallica references) of ‘The Coin Has a Say’ are incredible, and Brendon Urie’s guest vocals add serious sweetness to the otherwise apocalyptic rumble of ‘It Remembers’.
There is an issue with staying power, Every Time I Die like to move fast but tend to make less of an impact at top speed, but overall ‘Low Teens’ is terrific. It’s a snapshot, hopefully, of a band at their darkest, driven by the saddest news, but determined to burn brighter than any punk band on their eighth album should. A new triumph from near death.