REVIEW: Every Time I Die – ‘From Parts Unknown’

every time i die

Artist: Every Time I Die
Title: From Parts Unknown
Label: Epitaph Records
Genre: Hardcore

Every Time I Die are one of the hardcore genre’s most respected and revered acts. They are also arguably one of its most consistent, having produced a discography of critically acclaimed records each littered with genre-defining party anthems tailor-made to incite and inspire a riotous response in a live environment. This consistency of performance, coupled with their personable natures and overall accessibility has enabled the band to amass a notoriously rabid fan-base affectionately known as ETIDiots, who greet every tour and every new record with unrivaled fervor. Now 16 years into their career, that fervor is about to reach fever pitch thanks to the release of the band’s seventh full-length album, the incendiary From Parts Unknown.

The followup to 2013’s universally acclaimed Ex-Lives, a record which saw the Buffalo party lords explore new territories sonically, From Parts Unknown is a chaotic hardcore tour de force that sees the band making a return to the frenzied dirty, southern riff fest of their 2003 breakthrough Hot Damn!, while still maintaining the experimental attitude and musical maturity of their more recent records. The result is yet another firecracker of a record from the Buffalo quintet that takes the listener’s mind, body and soul hostage from the discordant opening riff of hectic opener “The Great Secret” and holds them hopelessly captive until the final acerbic seconds of closer, “Idiot.” What happens in the 31:05 in between these moments is something that can only be described as the soundtrack to the most hellacious party never held.

“The Great Secret” is the ideal party starter, with washed out opening chords serving as the calm before a category five superstorm that will no doubt leave the uninitiated remarking to themselves that they’re not in Kansas anymore. Packing many of the band’s trademark elements into 2:37 of the fiercest hardcore they’ve delivered in a decade, “The Great Secret” is set to be a sure-fire pit igniter on the band’s upcoming stint on the Vans Warped Tour. “The Great Secret” is followed in quick succession by the dynamite one-two punch of “Pelican Of The Desert” and “Decayin’ With The Boys,” completing an unholy trinity that serves as a harbinger of the bedlam to come. “Pelican Of The Desert” is a balls-to-the-wall two minutes of barnstorming riffs, pounding rhythms and demonic screams that’ll have you chomping at the bit for the onset of the album’s rabble-rousing second single “Decayin’ With The Boys.”

An early contender for the best track on the record, “Decayin’ With The Boys” explodes to life with a brief but killer riff from Andy Williams before settling into a killer hardcore groove upon which Keith Buckley unleashes his trademark wit via suitably caustic vocals. Home to an instantly memorable chaos, “Decayin’ With The Boys” is at once arguably one of Every Time I Die’s most melodious and yet moshable songs to date. While absolutely awesome in audio form alone, the track is taken to another level of awesomeness by its infamously NSFW video — scenes from which will no doubt be re-enacted by ETIDiots worldwide when this song is played at shows for years to come.

“Overstayer” and “If There Is Room To Move, Things Move” are next, and both tracks are home to some truly inspired musicianship with the drums of Ryan ‘Legs’ Leger locking intricately with the rolling bass of Steve Micciche to create a booming backdrop for guitarists Andy Williams and Jordan Buckley to lay down some of the filthiest riffs known to man. Keith Buckley lets it all hang out vocally on these two tracks as he transitions from anguished howls and deathly growls in the verses into his trademark raspy delivery in the choruses, creating a dynamic of light and shade that only accentuates the wit and candor he shows on the lyrical front (seriously, try to keep the smirk off of your face as Keith screams “I want to be sedated, just like Joseph” on “Overstayer”). As the final screams of “If There’s Room To Move, Things Move” bleed from the speakers, many listeners may find themselves seeking an escape from the all-encompassing hailstorm that has been the first five tracks of the record.

Temporary respite is provided in the form of “Moor.” One of few relatively slow-burning tracks on From Parts Unknown, “Moor” begins with Keith singing in a maudlin manner, with a gloomy sparse piano accompaniment as he recounts a graphic tale of witnessing a murder and then playing in the bloody dirt left in the aftermath. Desolate and downcast, the first minute of the song call to mind the brilliant “Revival Mode” off of Ex-Lives, before launching without warning into a dark and brooding mid-paced deathcore influenced stomper complete with a crushing breakdown which channels elements of “Who Invited The Russian Soldier” from New Junk Aesthetic. Crushing and confronting, “Moor” is an unexpected but surprisingly welcome diversion from the reckless abandon that comes before it and as such serves as the perfect midway point for the album.

“Exometrium” and lead single “Thirst” are up next, and within seconds we are returned to the glorious disorder of Buffalo’s finest as they hit the listener hard and fast with two of my personal favorite tracks from the album. “Exometrium” is an absolute riot that bursts to life with a venomous spirit. Containing some of the band’s tastiest riffs to date and home to some seriously killer vocals from Keith (not to mention some clever acts of lyricism) the track rekindles the defiant spirit of “No Son Of Mine” from The Big Dirty while maintaining an identity all its own. It is prototypical Every Time I Die and it is glorious. “Thirst” is an absolute barnstormer of a track that cracks with a hellacious energy that doesn’t let up for a second of its 1:27 running time. “Thirst” features all the hallmarks that have kept the Every Time I Die name synonymous with quality hardcore and quality partying for the past 16 years and as its hilarious video attests, it is destined to become a pre-game favorite for hardcore partiers.

Of the 12 tracks on From Parts Unknown, “Old Light” is destined to provide the most debate among Every Time I Die fans. Featuring a highly anticipated guest vocal appearance by Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem, “Old Light” works significantly better than expected with the warm, whiskey-soaked vocals of Fallon juxtaposed against the relentless aggression of ETID, creating a triumphant collaboration made in plaid-wearing heaven. It is an enjoyable track that adds an element of diversity to the record. “All Structures Are Unstable” returns things to their prior unruly state, cramming moments of astounding technical proficiency and brutality within the confines of a ferocious 2:02 seconds of classic Every Time I Die.

“El Dorado” and “Idiot” are given the duty of closing out the album and both tracks acquit themselves admirably. “El Dorado” in particular is astonishing. A hard rocking number driven by a series of massive sounding classic rock riffs set to an absolutely monster groove, it is one of the album’s most adventurous songs and yet also one of its most accessible with Keith in inspired form delivering one of the band’s greatest ever choruses. At different times bringing to mind The Sweet Life,” “Floater” and “Wanderlust”–and at other times sounding nothing like anything the band has done before–“El Dorado” packs a dizzying amount of ideas into four minutes of utter carnage and looks destined to take its place in many fans’ ‘Best of ETID’ lists in the future.

“Idiot” is a crushing hardcore number that continues the fine tradition of epic ETID album closers. Powered by a mammoth riff and some ridiculously complex drumming, “Idiot” ensures the album finishes in the devastating manner that it began, with a deafening breakdown accompanied by a status-worthy final refrain (“All I want is for everyone to go to hell / it’s the last place I was seen before I lost myself / all I want is for everyone to go to hell / then we can be free and learn to love ourselves”) that perfectly encapsulates the overall spirit of the record and brings the curtains down on another near-flawless display from these hardcore legends.

Much like the non-existent wrestler whose name the title was inspired by, From Parts Unknown comes careening into our lives with a wild and reckless energy that overpowers the senses and leaves nothing but annihilation in its wake. Equipped with an arsenal of combustible riffs, bombastic rhythms, passionate vocals and sardonic lyrics, all of which are deployed by the band with the proficiency and efficiency of battle hardened veterans, the album covers a surprising amount of musical ground within its hectic 31:05 running time, melding some of the most complex and technically proficient moments of their career into a tightly wound and cohesive listening experience.

Much of the credit for the unified nature of this all-out attack on the senses has to be given to Kurt Ballou, whose production job is arguably the finest work of his career to date, but the band also has to be commended for the spirit of ingenuity they have displayed in the songwriting process. Being able to introduce so many fresh ideas and concepts this far into a career while maintaining the core components that have come to define the ETID sound is no small achievement and stands as one of this record’s crowning glories.

Presenting as a truly unified entity, the band is in fine form on From Parts Unknown with the signature axe-work of Jordan and Andy meshing perfectly with accomplished performances from the rhythm section of Steve and Ryan (extra kudos have to be given to Ryan who for the second record in a row has raised the bar in terms of stick-work in the ETID paradigm) setting the table perfectly for an absolutely remarkable vocal performance from Keith, who hasn’t sounded this agitated and animated in a decade. As quick-witted and acid-tongued as ever, Keith delivers his patented turn of phrase with a new level of venom and spite on From Parts Unknown, further cementing his exalted status as one of hardcore’s most gifted frontmen. That he reportedly delivered this performance in a single day of tracking only further underlines its quality.

An unprecedented exercise in orchestrated chaos from start to finish, From Parts Unknown is an absolute riot of a record that takes you on a raucous joyride through the aftermath of the greatest party you’ve never attended, leaving you punch drunk and nodding in reverence to its might.

“Kill the lights” and then take your place in the pit, because there’s a lot of life left in these party lords yet.

SCORE: 9.5/10
Review written by Brenton Harris — you can follow him on Twitter.

From Parts Unknown will be released July 1 through Epitaph Records. Pre-orders are available now and the details can be found here. If you can’t wait for the physical edition, the album can be streamed in full here.

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  • doge420

    Solid review Brent! I’d just like to add that Moor is a revenge song. Keith’s Wife and her friend were assaulted when etid were off recording Ex-Lives so the song is about that experience. A revenge fantasy song.

  • Bill

    You used the word “party” seven times in your review.

  • Brian Lion

    I hope that’s a compliment more than a complaint haha.

  • Tom

    The fact a breakdown is now referred to as deathcore-influenced is just plain sad. “Deathcore” is the byproduct of being influenced by other things, not the other way around.

    That notwithstanding, the album is fantastic quite unlike this review that couldn’t possibly be more bloated and utterly pretentious. Not to mention gushingly sycophantic in a likely effort to get quoted in a promo for the album. There’s nothing wrong with loving it, it’s really THAT good, but you shouldn’t let your inner fanboy be so blatant. It’s bad enough you egregiously called anything on this album “deathcore influenced”, you didn’t need all that hyperbolic lard slathered on top of it, too. You should have been “From Parts Unknown” influenced and kept it short, sweet and to the point. Then maybe you would have kept yourself from sounding like such a dickrider.

    As for the statement about Kurt Ballou’s “arguable” best work. It’s not. It isn’t even close, because styles make everything in production and while he certainly didn’t fail, it doesn’t – by any means – outshine even “All We Love We Leave Behind” let alone his entire resume in its entirety. Go back to Objective Journalism 101.

    I agree with the score though, at least you did something right ;)

  • Brian Lion

    Where’s your website, bro?

  • Kyle

    Before you begin to blatantly disrespect and tear apart an extremely well written review and its author, maybe you should stop and think about a few things. Perhaps the author knows members of Every Time I Die, so he felt the need to do them justice with a very personal review like this. Or, maybe he holds this band very near and dear to his heart, and has them to thank for certain aspects of his life. Even if these aren’t true statements, it really makes no difference. Who are you to criticize a reviewer for his writing style and how he chooses to highlight the many exceptional pieces of this album? Every review of this album I’ve seen is very similarly written to this one, BECAUSE ITS THAT GOOD OF AN ALBUM. Complimenting an artist’s/group’s achievements on a record and their career doesn’t make him a “dickrider” or a “fanboy”. Every Time I Die is an extremely well respected band in the hardcore genre, and like many other reviewers he is giving credit where credit is most certainly due. And so what if he is a fan? I imagine it would be tough to find someone that writes for a music site like this who isn’t a fan given Every Time I Die’s reputation. I don’t see you reviewing the album, so until that happens, get off your high horse and take your comments elsewhere.

  • Tom

    So Kyle, by your logic, if I know or am friendly with the band (which, for all you know I am), then that lends credence to what it is that I have to say relative to them. Does it not? Or, are we the PC police type whom think that it’s only acceptable when it’s positive?

    Furthermore, I don’t think Every Time I Die – whom the author even stated, ad nauseum, are pillars in the independent scene – need “justice” done for them. The album speaks pretty well for itself and Epitaph always does an exceptional job promoting their artists. So, does making a moot effort (which, really is just you making excuses) really make more than a moot point? No. The effort is grossly self-interested anyway, as it seethes from each and every exaggerative, hyperbolic line.

    As to “who I am” to criticize the reviewer? Well, let’s ask that question in reverse pertaining to me, shall we? I also have an answer for you: a hypocrite. You can write a scathing, critical response to my post, but it’s oh-so-wrong that I wrote a scathing criticism of this self-motivated linguistic fellatio? Can you honestly expect anyone to take you seriously when you’re being a complete hypocrite?

    I mean c’mon,death-core influenced? Kurt Ballou’s arguable best work to date? It’s a bunch of meandering paragraphs of try-harding to basically just say “I love this band, and I’d eat the corn out of their whiskey shits if given the opportunity.”. Maybe if it were more honest about that and less pretentious, I wouldn’t have felt compelled. But, if I ever misrepresented something – not to mention my knowledge and objectivity – I’d fully expect someone to call me on it. My methods might need work, but my heart’s in the right place ;)

    Being a kiss ass gets you little more than a brown nose and shitty breath. Pun intended.

    -The Black Kettle