Every Time I Die's sixth album is easily the Buffalo-based band's most experimental effort to date. Boasting an abnormal amount of melody and variety, 2012's "Ex Lives" sometimes plays like a sludge or stoner metal record. Furthermore, there is an increased sense of pure, true blue hard rock apparent throughout these eleven songs. The end result is some of the biggest standout songs in the group's catalogue, and easily a standout release in their discography.
Sure, there is plenty of old-school-esque Every Time I Die material to be had, here. For proof of this fact, proceed directly to the album's first two tracks, the Converge-meets-Dillinger Escape Plan-esque grinding opener that is "Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space" (which is filled with dirty, Unsane-like clangy bass grumbles and bruising hardcore breakdowns), and "Holy Book Of Dementia," an even more frantic and breathless mathcore sprint with thunderous double bass drumming.
But let it be known that "Ex Lives"' most remarkable and memorable moments are its most experimental ones. "A Wild, Shameless Man" is a much more restrained and in-control, mid-tempo chugger; and "Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow" is a very catchy, Southern-tinged rocker with some catchy swing and (what sounds like) a banjo/hillbilly acoustic guitar. And "Revival Mode" is even more experimental still in that it very much could be a Soundgarden or Audioslave b-side, what with its Chris Cornell-derived vocals and the inclusion of something that could even pass for a guitar solo (!). And finally, the set closes with "Indian Giver," an ominously sludgy cut of full-on stoner metal that ventures into Baroness/Torche-inspired brooding territory and Southern-fried Sabbath-y riffs.
But do not get your knickers in a twist just yet, because these moments, as experimental as they may be, are surrounded by blistering blasts of math-y hardcore. "I Suck (Blood)" is backed by Motorhead-esque speed punk drumming, a catchy, swinging groove, and hooky, moderately clean/very intelligible vocals. And elsewhere, "The Low Road Has No Exits" is an even more brutal math/noisecore jaunt; and "Drag King" is yet another slab of throat-straining hardcore with freak-out guitars and a potent, memorable vocal refrain.
While "Ex Lives" is not a genre-redefining release, it is the next best thing: An inventive and even more innovative record, and easily one of the finest ever to bare the ETID nametag. Hence, it is a recommended listen to both fans and newcomers alike.