Unlike hardcore acts that draw inspiration only from other hardcore acts (a choice that leads to uninteresting inbred arrangements), Every Time I Die embraces southern metal's rhythmic grooves, eerie East Bay Ray-style guitars, and garage rock's cocky swagger. Frontman Keith Buckley enunciates every shriek like a gleeful demon in a horror film, and during the tuneful hooks, he sounds sassy, not sissified.
Except for one lamentable lapse (an incongruously peppy "whoa-oh" chant during the otherwise explosive "Guitarred and Feathered"), Gutter Phenomenon maintains the intensity throughout its pressure-condensed 11 tracks and 34 minutes. Most modern hardcore tunes operate in strict compliance with a two-breakdown minimum, and Every Time I Die serves plenty. However, its breakdowns are so slow, and the songs surrounding them are so manic (with all instruments racing, not just the drums), that the contrast toys with time, making four-minute numbers seem like epics. The results recall a playful Pantera, or Refused without the revolutionary rhetoric and electronic enhancements. In a genre stocked with calculated crossover acts that blend punk and metal like musical alchemists, Every Time I Die seems like an organic amalgam of incendiary influences.
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