New York state-natives and Epitaph-signees Every Time I Die made sure we did not usher too comfortably into a hopeful and redemption-filled 2021 without first getting uppercutted by a slaying miasma of savagery refinement. The acclaimed metalcore quartet saw fit to unveil a double A-side lead single before last disgraced year’s countdown, almost exactly a month ago on the 8th December (AOTY list season and other publishing commitments caused the curatorial delay). Dropped in anticipation to their still unnamed ninth studio LP, slated for release later in the year and their first in over a lustrum—this serving as their longest gap between albums since their formation in the late Nineties—both pitiless and manic teasers accompanied a larger announcement of an exclusive Online Telethon Extravaganza livestream, dubbed TIDathon. The event took place on 19th December and replaced the group’s traditional annual TID the Season holidays show in a virtual fashion. AWOL, a third instant-gratification cut which will also presumably be featured on the untitled Low Teens follow-up, was furnished to ticket-purchasers via download link.

The two symbiotic furious hardcore ragers making up the bundle are titled “A Colossal Wreck” and “Desperate Pleasures” and hint at a revolving artistic dialectic between them. That is, both numbers’ sonic, thematic, and sequencing demeanour suggests a direct back-to-back relationship on the forthcoming project’s tracklist, a sentiment that further appears to be solidified by the following statement issued by Every Time I Die’s frontman and lyricist Keith Buckley upon the single’s release in early December:

[The songs are] two sides of the same reactionary coin. While Colossal Wreck looks around at the current state of the world and says , ​‘life is a punishment and only the worst of us thrive,’ Desperate Pleasures takes a more optimistic approach and renounces the nihilistic/accelerationist attitude of the voice that came before.

It says that without hope, even in the face of such universal anguish, only death is certain and to give up now when those around us need it most is a treacherous act of pure cowardice. That said, I’m not sure which is worse, being a coward or being a cynic. Probably a coward. At least cynics have a sense of humor.

Coming to the music, “A Colossal Wreck” pierces through its two blazing minutes and a half of blistering perniciousness by way of an absolutely ravaging and relentless destructive rhythmic flow, flashing by in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it apex, before cathartically culminating into a larger-than-life breakdown-turned-outro: “I should have been baptized / Death’s perfect shine is in my eyes / Now I’m just killing time / Until time decides I’ve had enough / We must have not / I should have been baptized / Death’s perfect shine is in my eyes / Now I’m just killing time / Until time decides I’ve had enough“. This record flexes most of the veteran metallers’ trademark harsh muscles, purveying abundant beefy six-string distortion atop of annihilating percussive drills bordering mathcore. As per the Buffalo’s finests’ indulging sinfulness, the whole effort is driven by Buckley’s inhumane high-octane screams that seem to pull listeners by their dried out necks, only to scour layers of venomous graters down their blood-curdling agonised jugular pipings instead of quenching their vitriolic thirst.

On the promo single’s rear side one finds “Desperate Pleasures”, undoubtedly a groovier and more dejected exploit than its madder sister song, although by no means less compositionally dense or forgiving. In a way, this track’s impact could be seen as even more brutal and plaguing than “Colossal Wreck”. At first, Every Time I Die seem to bestow some respite upon listeners, as the tune flat out thoughtlessly swings through its initial bells-tolling cadence and chant-y-meets-jammy fifty seconds of runtime. However, this swiftly transforms into a giant take-no-prisoners sonic red herring, as Buckley and his violent gents company pick up steam to arise full pedal-to-the-metal with the cut’s second stanza: “Fight for their lives / Fight for their lives / The hopeless are useless in desperate times / 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 / It’s almost unbearable / Honestly? Terrible“.

“Desperate Pleasures”‘s rest from that point on is a who’s-who of the influential hardcore group’s most cherished and accomplished songwriting components, all worked into a topical poignancy that only a nihilist 2020 record can sport: angular sludge metal guitar riffs, murderous blast beats, a rhythm section that could rival any of R&B’s grooviest assemblies, as well as a verbose and intricate lyrical section earmarked by ETID’s 41-year-old singer’s internationally-renowned authorship and wordsmithing. With still no fixed release date or album roll out in sight, it’s (quite literally) terrifyingly reassuring to know that Keith on the mic, alongside his brother Jordan and professional wrestler Andy “The Butcher” Williams on guitars, Stephen Micciche on bass and touring stickman Clayton Holyoak, appear to have not skipped a blastbeat even after their longest break in-between studio full lengths hitherto. Similarly gnarly is the reckoning of a meat-and-potatoes outfit that can still milk its winning compositional chemistry more than twenty years since its debut, yet as candidly illustrated by this recent double A-side single, at the same time manages to deliver their conventional rabidness without ever running the risk of painting themselves into a musical corner.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.




2020, Epitaph



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