Every Time I Die are considered one of the elder statesmen of metalcore and mathcore at this point in their careers, so it’s always interesting to see how seasoned bands like ETID deal with growing older and seeing the music and bands around them change. Of course, Every Time I Die is no stranger to change; 2007’s The Big Dirty saw the band stray from their metalcore/mathcore roots and experiment with thick, simpler southern style riffs. 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic only emphasized their new “style” and dialed it up another notch. Interestingly enough, Ex Lives certainly lives up to it’s name, read on to find out why.
With their sixth full-length album, Every Time I Die pulled out all the stops. As the album name foreshadows, Ex Lives sees the band return to their roots with a classic sound more akin to Hot Damn! then New Junk Aesthetic. The result is like re-kindling a long lost love; this band certainly knows how to keep their music interesting without succumbing to some of the problems other bands of a similar nature often find themselves facing. Riffs almost never sound familiar, songs never over-stay their welcome, and thankfully Ex Lives avoids the “big wall of sound, can’t pull anything apart” problem that some mathcore bands often find themselves struggling with. You’ll always be able to listen to a specific instrument if you want; which is a good thing since the guitars on this album are often doing some interesting things.
While Ex Lives is almost a return to Every Time I Die‘s “old” sound, there are a few hangups. A select few songs are an odd choice for this album, sounding more like something that belongs on their previous two albums than this one. “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow” opens up with a rather embarrassing lyrical spiel, coupled with the distinct southern-style sound that just seems out-of-place on Ex Lives, especially after the rather ferocious opening salvo of songs. “Revival Mode” is another song that kinda makes you scratch your head and think that it would be better suited to one of their previous albums. The thing is; by themselves they’re rather good songs (not counting the opening to “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow”, which just sounds cheesy as hell), but they sound so foreign on this album that it almost takes you out of then experience for a bit.
Luckily Ex Lives always comes back strong; and that really is one of the main things about this album that makes it so good. If “Partying…” isn’t really your thing don’t worry; “The Low Road Has No Exits” surely is. If “Revival Mode” has your attention span starting to wonder, that’ll stop the instant “Drag King” starts up. The album is a little over a half-hour long, and you’ll have no problems listening to it over and over again if your a fan of earlier Every Time I Die or just a fan of this style of music in general. Fans that felt abandoned by The Big Dirty and New Junk Aesthetic should welcome Ex Lives with open arms.
In a sense, Ex Lives is almost like a statement from the band. Now a band with over ten years of experience, it’s almost like they put out an album that says “OK new guys, this is how you do it”. A rare few hangups keep this from being a perfect album; but it’s pretty damn close. It’s always nice to see a band this many albums in still know how to contribute something that feels fresh and exciting; and that’s exactly what Ex Lives is. As I said before, any fans who didn’t like New Junk Aesthetic or The Big Dirty should definitely circle-back around and give this album a try. It’ll probably be one of the better decisions you make this year.