The Nine Circles ov…Every Time I Die

One of my earliest and fondest concert memories is that of crowd surfing to Every Time I Die playing “Ebolarama” at Ozzfest 2004. I’d heard the song before on a mix my buddy made for me of a bunch of metalcore bands breaking at the time. This weird song that blended unorthodox singing and song structure with crushing guitars was a standout for me, and I was ecstatic to hear it live (and to find out who played it, my friend didn’t give me a track list). So there I went, flying atop the sea of Che-hats, gauged-ears, sideways haircuts and black sweatbands — a millennial metal moment if there ever was one. So for this Nine Circles ov…, let’s burn this mother down and go through nine of the boys’ best tracks…

Every Time I Die (ETID) emerged from the American hardcore scene in the early 2000s and have since become a unique and essential voice in extreme music. Their music is heavy and abrasive, composed of an intoxicating mix of dirty punk, dissonant hardcore and riff-centric metal. But it also carries a 70s rock attitude and a wicked sense of humor that’s just as down to party as it is to blow the place up.

See the playlist below, where I’ve added “Ebolarama,” “The New Black” and “No Son of Mine” as a bonus. Because you know. When the urgency strikes you. You better not lose your nerve.

“Jimmy Tango’s Method” (from Last Night in Town, 2001)

In their early days, ETID’s sound was very much in step with the metallic hardcore infecting the underground at the time: Converge, Cave In, Coalesce, Botch, Shai Hulud, and so on. That means lost of dissonant guitar work and breakdowns, and the spirit of this sound still breathes through the band to this day. Last Night in Town is the purest expression of that spirit.

“I Been Gone a Long Time” (from Hot Damn!, 2003)

For most ETID fans I’ve met, especially those in my age group, Hot Damn! is the ultimate ETID album. Indeed, it’s the one that broke them into the milieu of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal storming the gates of the metal world at the time. It expands on the ferocity of the debut while adding the rock n’ roll swagger they’ve since become known for. (That cowbell, tho.)

“Apocalypse Now and Then” (from Gutter Phenomenon, 2005)

That said, Gutter Phenomenon is my favorite ETID album, and one of my favorite albums of all time in general. I remember buying the CD back in September of 2005 while a freshman in college (that FYE purchase also included Leviathan, Ghost Reveries and Alaska…ah, memories) Since I could probably just name nine songs from this album on it’s own, I’ll use the opener as a representative sample. The song shows the band at its catchiest while still holding on to its abrasive edge.

“We’rewolf” from (The Big Dirty, 2007)

Everyone has a favorite party song. Or a favorite pre-game song. Or post-game. Whatever. This fun yet menacing banger covers all those bases for me, especially when that last chorus kicks into that raucous bridge (“LOOK AWAY IT’S TOO MUCH TO BEAR!”)

“Wanderlust” from (New Junk Aesthetic, 2009)

When New Junk Aesthetic came out, the band was very much on the top of its game, newly signed to Epitaph records and showing no signs of slowing down stylistically or commercially (this one sold 12,000 copies in its first week, just as physical sales were falling off a cliff). “Wanderlust” shows the band’s dazzling ability to make songs where each part is able to get into your head like a chorus. It’s heavy and cynical sleaze at its finest.

“The Sweet Life” from (New Junk Aesthetic, 2009)

I included this mostly to applaud the band’s gall to write a song that includes the line “ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, ain’t nothing gonna slow me down.” I guess they got to keep on moving!

“Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” (from Ex Lives, 2012)

When I reviewed this album back in 2012, I was very nice about it and incorrectly claimed that it was better than the previous album. Since then, Ex Lives is the album I return to the least often. But this angry and embittered song still totally rules. If most of ETID’s catalog represents them as the happy drunk, this song comes at the end of the night when things get real dark.

“Decayin’ With the Boys” from (From Parts Unknown, 2014)

I remember reading interviews of singer Keith Buckley around the making of this album that he was ready to start having fun again and stop hating life like he did when making Ex Lives. It definitely shows on this fan favorite. You gotta love those lines: “I got soooo much soul in me that I’m baaaaarely alive!” Nice.

“The Coin Has a Say” (from Low Teens, 2016)

I was addicted to this song when it came out, and still haven’t tired of it to this day. It’s a perfect ETID song: irreverent lyrics, driving guitars and a rhythm that resembles a thousand cars exploding out of the same building. It says a lot about a band when the music is so good that a simple music video of live clips is more than enough to make it worth watching.

– J Andrew

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