This sixth studio set might just be Buffalo hardcore crew ETID’s greatest album yet.
Raziq Rauf 2012
It’s something that Josh Homme has spoken about with Queens of the Stone Age: music that’s hard enough for guys, but sweet enough for their girlfriends. That’s what Every Time I Die have perfected with Ex Lives, the Buffalo-founded band’s sixth album. They are not only stalwarts of the heavy music scene today, but they’re also as seminal as QOTSA. They have become a band that all other bands around them aspire to be like.
From the balance of sweet-as-honeysuckle melodies and harsh, crunching rasps to the inventive and challenging lyrics, there is much to think about when listening to Ex Lives. The graphical wordplay that frontman Keith Buckley uses is always stunning, but it’s amusing and devilish in equal measure. The repeated line "When the iron sharpens the iron," from opening song Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space, is inspired by the Book of Proverbs – yep, it comes straight from the Bible. But Buckley’s not a religious man; far from it, in fact, as he points out later in Drag King and I Suck (Blood). The use of such imagery in his lyrics, however, is an incredibly powerful thing, despite his personal stance on religion being far from positive.
Something else Buckley probably wouldn’t like is that dating television advert doing the rounds right now, the one with a chap playing his ukulele to a girl across a station platform. Said lovesick sort could take a tip from the ETID singer’s book – swap the uke for the banjo found in Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow, get some better lines and he might have this reviewer jumping across the tracks to listen to another line of witty lyrical brilliance. Well, thinking about it, at least.
Revival Mode, the song from which this album’s title is taken, is a master-class in melodic production. With piano tinkling through every important moment, it’s a vaudeville jazz hands extravaganza – as much as a rock song can be, anyway. The dirty, meandering solo from Danzig guitarist John Christ is the sole cameo on Ex Lives – but ETID don’t need any illustrious friends on their albums any more. They’re the main attraction, and have been for some years now.
As with so many other bands, Every Time I Die are still heralded by many for a past album, in their case 2003’s second set, Hot Damn! – but Ex Lives is guaranteed to change a few minds as to what stands out as their finest collection. This is a wholly unholy album. Revel in it.