Very few bands, if any, do it as well as Every Time I Die, and even fewer do it this well seven records into their career. Over the last fifteen years the Buffalo band have released incredible record after incredible record, and the trend unsurprisingly continues with From Parts Unknown, which is easily up there with their best, a rip-roaring ride from start to finish.
If you’re already familiar with Every Time I Die you’ll likely know what to expect from their seventh LP, and chances are that’ll be absolutely what you want. From the offset From Parts Unknown is ferocious, a brute of a record which seems reluctant to take the foot off the gas, and does so sparingly. It’s noticeably more thrash-oriented than the bands last release Ex Lives, and on tracks like El Dorado there’s shades of the bands earliest work, reminiscent of say, Last Night In Town, thick with a southern metal type of swagger. Collectively From Parts Unknown takes elements from each of the bands last six records and channels them vigorously, and it sounds anything but jumbled or confused, crazed but coherent. Every Time I Die are masters of their craft, and it constantly shows. Roaring vocals from Keith Buckley often accompany some sublime riffs and guitars courtesy of Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams, and with the three founding members again provide a solid backbone, which is complemented by drummer Ryan Leger (drums) and Stephen Micciche (bass). Every Time I Die are as formidable a force as ever, and everything on their seventh record comes together to form a true behemoth of a release.
From Parts Unknown is unstoppable once it gets going, and it does so with opener The Great Secret, which erupts after a haunting intro into emphatic cries of ‘Blow your fucking brains out!’ Considering Ex Lives opened with the line ‘I want to be dead with my friends’ not a whole lot seems to have changed, and once again Every Time I Die make an instant impact. From here on From Parts Unknown sets a blistering pace, a half-hour long sweat soaked adrenaline rush which thunders along, and man does it sound good. The record contains some of the heaviest songs Every Time I Die have ever laid down, and with Kurt Ballou of Converge on production duties it doesn’t come as a massive surprise. There are definitely similarities to Ballou’s band in the barraging If There Is Room To Move, Things Move and he does influence From Parts Unknown, largely for the better. The record is absolutely savage, and even if there isn’t room to move come the start of If There Is Room… there will be the end of the first minute if you react accordingly; it’s difficult not to when songs are this aggressive. Third track Decayin’ With The Boys is a riotous good time meant for a party, whilst Exometrium is a technical and tumultuous beast, with Buckley sounding particularly incensed as the rest of the band follow suit. Lead single Thirst could’ve slotted nicely onto Trash Talk’s recent No Peace which, until From Parts Unknown, was my favourite heavy record of 2014 to date. Thirst is short and spirited, dropping off around the midpoint to a great bass line, biting back twice as venomous, and despite being the shortest track, flashing by, it stands out in the best way, and it’s a shame the same can’t be said about following selection Old Light. Normally I’m a huge fan of all things Brian Fallon but his vocals don’t really work here, and you get the sense that Buckley could perhaps deliver his lines much better instead. Fallon does bring something new, but as a whole the track falls short of From Parts Unknown’s skyscraping-ly high standards. All Structures Are Unstable is a manic return to form, whilst the track that follows that, El Dorado, is the only track to pass four minutes, allowing for a lengthier epic. It carries a very New Junk Aesthetic feel to it, with Buckley toying with a cleaner delivery, switching between melody and menace on a whim before the track relents to a sole thick riff, coming back even dirtier. Towards the end it takes a seconds break and then writhes back into life with arguably the records heaviest minute which makes full use of a southern metal style – insatiable.
As per usual Keith Buckley is one of the angriest and most poetic frontmen in metal, as manic and dynamic as always whilst still delivering memorable lines lyrically song after song. A lot of the time Buckley’s lyrics are difficult to pick out as a result of their sonic accompaniment and screamed delivery but those which do stand out really make their mark. Experimental highlight Moor features the lines ‘All I want is his head and this horrible fucking world will be wonderful again / There’s so much beauty in love and when I eat his beating heart I can bring it back to us‘ over stomping, crushing instrumentation, one of the records finest moments. It’s a mile away from the song’s opening few minutes, during which Buckley sings over an off-key piano, eerie and effecting in equal measure. It’s the soundtrack to a tortured mind, and it’s as convincing as they come. Like on She’s My Rushmore from Hot Damn! Buckley utilises the literature of Shakespeare, and this time I’m assuming he’s using Othello as inspiration, hence the song’s title and troubled nature. It’s smart and sharp, and there continues to be a depth and imagination to Buckley’s lyrics which continues to set them apart. Idiot ends with another brilliant few lines in ‘All I want is for everyone to go to Hell / It’s the last place I will see before I lose my soul / All I want is for everyone to come to Hell / Then we can be free and learn to love ourselves’ finishing From Parts Unknown on a brilliant note. After a pummeling thirty minutes you get some genuine food for thought, a firm reminder that there’s more to Every Time I Die than just great riffs and facial hair. The record couldn’t have finished stronger, and Idiot is one of the best tracks, barbaric, featuring a ten second or so scream from Buckley to cap off his best record vocally, if not necessarily lyrically. From Parts Unknown does lack the sarcasm and wit of past work, but with lyrics like those above it doesn’t really matter in the long run, and you’ll struggle to find a heavy record which boasts lyrical content on a par with this one in 2014.
There’s only really one noticeable criticism I can say of From Parts Unknown aside from Old Light, and it’s that towards the end it does become slightly repetitive. There’s not really enough variety outside of Moor to keep things constantly fresh. Yes, Every Time I Die are ridiculously good when it comes to playing heavy music, but From Parts Unknown does run the risk of becoming a thrash-fest – which might play in your favour depending on your taste. Taking each song individually it’s likely the best collection of heavy songs you’ll hear this year – and even taken as a whole it might be – but personally I would’ve liked another track like the unique Moor to break things up.
All being said, Every Time I Die have done it again – of course they have. Regardless of how you rank the bands records (New Junk Aesthetic comes out tops for myself) From Parts Unknown should rank pretty highly, because there’s no doubting its abundant quality. This is one hell of a record, and Every Time I Die are one hell of a band. I started this review by saying that very few bands are as good as them, but with each listen of From Parts Unknown the ‘competition’ seems more and more insignificant, shouldered aside by a monolithic slab of exceptional music from a band who never really disappoint, and definitely don’t here.
From Parts Unknown is set for release July 1st, and you can stream it here via the Epitaph Records YouTube channel in the meantime.
Rating – 9/10
Listen to: Moor / El Dorado / Idiot