Every Time I Die – ‘Radical’ review: metalcore lifers push the envelope on urgent, ambitious new LP15 Seminal Albums From Metalcore's Second Wave (2000-2010)

Every Time I Die are back with a fucking vengeance. Not that they ever really left -- they've been workhorses on the road and in the studio for over 20 years straight -- but Radical is their first album in five years (their longest gap yet) and they sound as hungry as they did in their early years. At its heaviest, Radical is some of the most vicious music that ETID have ever released. It's also their most musically ambitious album yet, offering up 16 songs in 51 minutes and using the longer runtime to piece together a more vast array of ideas than ever before.

The last time Every Time I Die released an album was in 2016 with Low Teens, which came out about a month before it was revealed that Donald Trump won the presidential election, and in the time since then, the country (and world) has been in a constant state of unrest, full of civil rights protests, a pandemic, and political and social division. To quote Keith Buckley on "Desperate Pleasures" -- one of the first two songs to be released from Radical, way back in December of 2020 -- "These are desperate times." On that song, he sounds utterly hopeless. On "Planet Shit," he's pissed as hell. "No future with a racist past/But we can't acknowledge that/So we burn a cross and pray to a flag," he screams, shredding his vocal cords as his brother Jordan dishes out math-metal riffage dizzying enough to rival your favorite Converge record. "There's no law when the outlaw wears a badge," he adds, "so throw a brick."

It's tempting to paint Radical as ETID's post-Trump record, and these are indeed some of their most outwardly political songs yet, but like the music itself, the themes on Radical can't be easily pigeonholed. It's political, but it's also poetic and abstract, with vivid imagery that paints a picture in your mind and leaves the meaning up for interpretation. It often looks outwards, but it gets personal too. Some moments are delivered with conviction, but Radical also poses several questions, and it doesn't always have answers. Musically, it gives you everything you want from an Every Time I Die record and more. The band's trademark, Southern rock-tinged metalcore is in fine form, and you don't have to wait very long to hear it; the opening one-two punch of "Dark Distance" and "Sly" is classic ETID. The more melodic sound that ETID honed on Gutter Phenomenon and The Big Dirty comes through on "Hostile Architecture," "White Void," "People Verses," and especially on "Post-Boredom," which is one of the catchiest ETID songs to date and unlike just about anything else in their catalog. It sounds like Every Time I Die's version of dance music, and that's thanks in no small part to new drummer Clayton "Goose" Holyoak, who previously did time in Fear Before the March of Flames and Norma Jean. Clayton's reputation as a beast precedes him, and he gels with Every Time I Die like a long lost brother.

Elsewhere on Radical, ETID venture outside of their usual comfort zone. The aforementioned "Desperate Pleasures" is some of the most doomy, atmospheric music they've released. "AWOL" sounds like Every Time I Die cosplaying as At The Drive In, and they know exactly how to pull it off. "We Go Together" rivals the progressive sludge metal of peak Mastodon and Baroness. "Thing With Feathers" finds Keith duetting with Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull, and it's as genuinely gorgeous as anything on that band's excellent new album. With elements of indie rock, post-rock, post-hardcore, and more, it's practically a ballad by Every Time I Die's standards, and it's as effective as their heavier songs. (And that's not the only cool guest: Josh Scogin of The Chariot/Norma Jean/'68 lends screams to "All This and War.")

For a band who helped define early 2000s metalcore, it shouldn't be taken for granted that their ninth album in 2021 is one of their best. So many of their peers have broken up or faded away, but ETID are lifers who are still on a forward trajectory, and Radical proves they've still got a lot more to say. Though plenty of songs hearken back to classic ETID, it sounds like a modern record, and that's thanks in part to producer Will Putney. Will also helmed Low Teens, but his chemistry with the band feels even stronger this time around, and Will has also emerged as the go-to producer within today's metalcore resurgence, having worked on modern classics by Knocked Loose, Vein, Harms Way, and more. ETID have emerged as a core influence on this scene (Keith Buckley sang on the latest Knocked Loose full-length), and Radical positions them not just as forebears but as peers, whose new music is just as forward-thinking as the newer metalcore bands that are shaping the genre's latest wave. At this point, calling Every Time I Die "veterans" is an understatement. They're an institution.

Radical is out now on Epitaph. Pick it up on opaque lime vinyl in our store and stream it and watch the new "Thing With Feathers" video below...


15 Seminal Albums From Metalcore's Second Wave (2000-2010)