Album Review: Every Time I Die - 'Radical'

20 October 2021 | 1:00 pm | Tiana Speter

"Every Time I Die flourish in sharp and beautiful chaos, and 'Radical' is a fiery and flawless adventure that is entirely worth the visit."

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What can be said about American heavies Every Time I Die that doesn’t immediately lean towards sounding like a crazed fan?

The undeniable fact of the matter when it comes to this group is simply this: Every Time I Die are revolutionary icons, whether the conversation be centred around metalcore, hardcore, post-hardcore, and many other subgenres ending in 'core'. Stylistically, Every Time I Die have ‘been there, done that’; but for a little over two decades, they haven’t just evolved from their early hardcore tendencies - they’ve also rewritten the rulebook along the way.

Looking way back into the group's extensive repertoire, Every Time I Die's second studio album Hot Damn was described almost a decade after its release as a total game-changer for metalcore. But while the Buffalo quintet are hardly the first of their kind to incorporate offbeat time signatures or Southern rock flavours and sardonic lyricism (we have The Dillinger Escape Plan and Pantera, respectively, for the first two in that list after all to name but a few) - it’s on the group’s ninth album Radical due out this Friday 22 October that it becomes abundantly clear that it’s not just the array of elements Every Time I Die embrace that make them so fascinating: it’s the way they fuse and thrive with such oscillating influences. Bringing together a fusion of so many disparate elements can generally spell a death sentence for some bands, but Every Time I Die flourish in sharp and beautiful chaos, and Radical is a fiery and flawless adventure that is entirely worth the visit.

While it’s definitely been a good couple of years for ETID fans now between releases, the group’s impending ninth studio release certainly has large shoes to fill in the form of 2016’s knockout performance on Low Teens, which saw the band praised for increased musical sophistication and insightful lyrics. But from the get-go, Radical is not here to mess around, setting the scene as very much having something to say: and saying that thing loudly.

Dark Distance kicks off Radical, with frontman Keith Buckley howling “spare only the ones I love - slay the rest”; and it’s this brawling sentiment that ignites a barrelling sonic adventure that is, at times, brutish, while also injecting lashings of personal relatability simmering underneath. And while there are significant blasts of discomfort throughout the album, Radical instead slowly reveals itself as a heaving ode to communal experiences and self-worth, with Buckely repeatedly lyrically acknowledging the short-comings of some personal and pretty universally difficult thematics - and the end result is entirely one peppered with moments of hope and inspiration.

A shining example of the oscillating hope and despair lies on one of the album's lead singles, the 90s post-hardcore-esque Post Boredom; a track which, on paper, presents a punchy cornucopia of propelling grooves, rollicking riffs and thick basslines, alongside a sweltering breakdown halfway through that will melt the majority of your face and teeth off. While initially presenting itself as an outrageously catchy tune, Buckley also cleverly frolics with wordplay, holding up a mirror for self-reflection and finding ones’ self in a happier place, and it’s an especially vehement outing from the ETID frontman (amid the revelation that bassist Stephen Micciche has the moistest hands in Buffalo. Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch the video above).  

But it’s not just Buckley understanding the assignment on Radical, with the entire band effusively on point throughout. And beyond Post Boredom, which many fans have already heard and played insatiably on repeat, there's a horde of standouts across the entire Radical experience, both stylistically and also just for those who came here for straight up riffs and madcap sonic antics. From the theatrical Sly to the blistering A Colossal Wreck and the rollicking Hostile Architecture, there’s also some gut wrenching emotives on Thing With Feathers. Meanwhile, penultimate track People Verses is equally a heart-wrencher, throwing in some beautifully clean and calmer moments amongst the biting rage, before We Go Together amps up the goosebumps and closes out proceedings with serpentine grooves and an emphatic Buckley vocally swaggering in full flight.

Overall, Radical is many things: it’s cathartic, it’s caustic and, ultimately, it’s exactly what its namesake promises to be: a revolutionary release that doesn’t hide in metaphors, but rather embraces poetic moments, some healthy summoning of Southern Rock flair, and a cultivated take on the unrest and upheaval around the world right now. And while, as mentioned earlier, Every Time I Die didn’t invent the specific elements thrown into the mix amongst their dazzling, gutteral hardcore/metalcore etc. - it's not just what they do, but how they do it, executing their wares and diverse strengths so immaculately on Radical that makes this release in particular so exquisite (and in this humble reviewer's opinion: perfect).

Every Time I Die didn’t need to flex so hard on this album, they were already leaders in their sonic field. But with Radical, Every Time I Die have surpassed legendary status; instead, this is a band who have proven they are immortals walking amongst us mere mortals. And as to how they can top this historic release in the future - it’ll be tough going, but after Radical there’s no question they can, and, undoubtedly, they will. 

Every Time I Die's ninth studio album Radical is out this Friday 22 October via Epitaph Records, for more info head here.

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Pic by Michael Watson