EVERY TIME I DIE- ‘Radical’
Every Time I Die defy. The boys from Buffalo have been riffing rebellious and beating the odds since 1998 of course, but ‘Radical’ is something else. They haven’t picked that album title for nothing.
Every Time I Die continue to defy their lifespan. This is their ninth album in 20 years. Those are unprecedented numbers for a band that play any kind of alternative sounds, let alone music this hard and heavy. Many of the band’s peers never made it to a third full-length, some are just now arranging anniversary reunion tours, but it feels like Every Time I Die have never fucking stopped. They don’t just defy their own age here though, they defy mine.
Look, I’m an old old wooden ship at this point. I love heavy music, always will, but if I banged my head for any extended length of time these days, it would fall off. ‘Radical’ though, is filled with a frankly ridiculous amount of razor-sharp high-energy riffs and shout-along lyrics. Only an hour or so ago I danced around my front room to the grungy rumble of ‘Post-Boredom’ to the point where I will ache in the morning. And the end of ‘Desperate Pleasures’ feels like it’s been made in a nostalgia machine just for me, teleported in from 2003. And I really do mean that in the best possible way.
Every Time I Die also defy logic. There are 16 tracks and almost an hour of music here. I know, before you press play, it sounds like too much. It certainly makes ‘Radical’ the longest Every Time I Die album. It is a lot to pick through (I still haven’t really heard ‘AWOL’), but, and this is key, the quality rarely wavers. From the opening screech of ‘Dark Distance’ to the bonkers conclusion of ‘We Go Together’, this is almost perfectly sequenced and, given that run time, remarkably digestible.
Ok, so Every Time I Die have always been a consistent band, but, for me, they found a new gear on ‘Low Teens’, their last and still their best record. While ‘Radical’ is a very different listening experience (more on that shortly) the fresh oomph is still in full effect here. This record was finished before the pandemic even started but it feels tailor made to resist everyone’s annihilated attention spans. You can’t unplug in case you miss the next awesome thing.
Perhaps best of all, throughout this album, Every Time I Die defy formula. Yes, there are plenty of spiky pit-starting riffs but there are a ton of new wrinkles too. ‘Sly’ is full of sneaky catchy melodies, ‘White Void’ incorporates excellent Deftonesian dynamics, and ‘Thing with Feathers’ might be the most sweet and serene the band have ever been, a heart-breaking highlight. New drummer Clayton Holyoak is a unique, outstanding addition, and Josh Scogin’s guest vocal spot is fantastically feral. I demand more Scogin! And, while they’ve never been afraid to take risks, this might be Every Time I Die’s most confidently diverse album. Where they’ve previously spiked a run of relentless ragers with the odd experimental anomaly, here it never feels like they’re trying anything out, or sneaking anything in. It all just makes sense.
The same goes for the lyrics. Frontman Keith Buckley’s acerbic wit and clever wordplay are present and correct, but this also feels like the most honest and unobscured the frontman has ever dared to be. However, while ‘Low Teens’ was inspired by Buckley’s personal hell, much of ‘Radical’ is written about the hell we share. He takes on tyrants and the patriarchy, and ‘Planet Shit’ features the most overtly political lyrics he has ever written. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Buckley also espouses moving forward, starting over, maybe even revolution. And if he sounded damn near suicidal previously, now he seems, in his own way, perversely hopeful. As he screams in ‘Desperate Pleasures’, “Hey, look on the bright side. There’s nowhere but up from a canyon in hell.” It gifts the record a highly listenable lightness of touch.
Every Time I Die defy. I don’t know how they’ve done it so well, after already doing it so well so many times before. But now you can do it with them all over again. Get ‘Radical’.