Release Date: 22nd October 2021
Record Label: Epitaph
For Fans Of: The Chariot, The Bronx, The Dillinger Escape Plan
The wait is over, mosh fans. The maestros of hardcore have returned to their throne, and they’ve brought something Radical in tow.
It has been five long years since Every Time I Die released a record (the stellar Low Teens), marking the longest gap between albums for the Buffalo band. With the band raising their own bar with each subsequent release, they sure had a job on their hands topping the last few albums to their name. Would it come as any surprise that they deliver the goods with Radical?
Boasting 16 tracks on the album’s standard release, Every Time I Die are making up for lost time with a surplus of hardcore ragers. Admittedly, five of those tracks have been released as singles dating back to December 2020, but hearing them in context makes them hit with invigorated force.
As has been the case since the band’s beginning, Every Time I Die set themselves apart from the crowd by demonstrating that hardcore can be fun. An attendee at any of their shows will attest to the level of comradery expressed between audience and performers, and this energy is felt throughout their recorded material. Radical, while retaining a playful attitude with plenty of the guitar riffs and hooks, can be defined by the untethered rage felt in Keith Buckley’s vocal performance. ‘Spare only the ones I love, slay the rest’ shrieks Buckley as the album opens with Dark Distance, which, while one can interpret this as the oppression felt by the US government of recent years, could be fittingly applied to the current state of leadership in the UK too. Buckley’s sustained screams dominate the track, with a level of ferocity that even the freshest of new blood could not match. It is mind blowing that he has been delivering these throat shredding howls for the best part of 20 years, and yet miraculously manages to sound stronger than ever.
Recent single ‘Planet Shit’ similarly shares a furious vocal and lyrical performance, bolstered by a lively banjo-style guitar riff. If one were to not pay attention to the enraged yells of Buckley, the track may appear as a light-hearted romp that would be fun to mosh along to. But with lines like ‘whose fucking side are you on?’ and ‘fuck you, die’ repeatedly bellowed, the band ensure that no listeners are left unsure of their stance on the recent influx of police corruption in America.
The fun guitar riffs do not end there. A stand out feature of the band is writing guitar parts that will have fans frantically searching for tabs, striking just the right balance between heavy, challenging and fun riffs. The band do not utilise the simplicity of beatdown hardcore, nor do they reach The Dillinger Escape Plan’s level of intricacy, inhabiting a sweet spot in between that provides chaos without becoming overwhelming. Even one of the less heavy tracks – the single Post-Boredom – is characterised by the robot rock stylings of Queens Of The Stone Age; tight, punchy power chords that are welded tight to metronomic drums.
Of course, it would not be an Every Time I Die record without a couple of choice vocal features. Across their discography, the band have chosen a selection of left-field vocalists to join them on a track, most recently with Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie appearing on ETID’s last record. This time round, Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra has become the latest collaborator, lending his voice and what sounds like his guitar playing to Things With Feathers. The input of Hull appears to have had an impact, as the resulting track shows the band at their softest, having more in common with indie rock than hardcore. Buckley utilises his clean vocals extensively, and while the track itself is enjoyable, one can’t help wondering if the song will make it into a live environment. Filling the role of second guest vocalist is none other than Josh Scogin of ’68, with a collaboration that is long overdue. Announcing his presence with his unmistakable pained scream, Scogin’s appearance is one of the most engaging features the band have orchestrated, and will make listeners yearn for that reunion of The Chariot…
Arguably, it is somewhat redundant singing the praises of Radical. As one of the most consistent hardcore bands around, there was never any doubt that Every Time I Die would put out another record that further cements their status as legends of the scene. With tracks that utilise dizzying, pinballing rhythm sections, to those that will floor listeners with the sheer force of the breakdowns, and some more radio friendly moments to boot, ETID know how to perfectly balance a hardcore album that prevents any listener desensitation to a barrage of heaviness. The fact that the band still sound so fresh on album number nine is a testament to the quality songwriting skills possessed by Every Time I Die.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Colossal Wreck’, ‘Planet Shit’, ‘All This And War’
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