Review Summary: You can't argue with "Last Night In Town". You won't be able to get a word in edge-wise.
It's been eleven years since the release of Every Time I Die's first album, "Last Night In Town", and with everyone losing their soup over "Ex Lives" I felt I should come back to the record that literally blew my ***ing mind at the age of fourteen; a record that, without any doubt, greatly influenced a majority of metalcore acts at the turn of the millennium and is still emulated to this day. Surprisingly, the band have expressed they have a hard time remembering which songs were on this outing. Jordan Buckley himself proclaims that he has no idea how to even play most of it anymore and wonders how he was able to play it in the first place. If you've ever heard the chaos that is the centerpiece of every track on "LNIT" then you will wholly understand this sentiment.
"I hate this city.", a sampled quote from the David Fincher film "Seven", kicks off the wall of noise that names itself "Emergency Broadcast Syndrome". It is quite the introduction to a record that is literally going to kick you in the face, kick you in the face on the way down and then kick you in the face again when you try to get up. I've always found the cold, mechanical approach of "LNIT" appealing since I was younger. There's a definite disconnection between you and the music that draws you in. Keith Buckley's raving, distorted vocals drive the hostility of the atmosphere the band has created through blunt force, crushing hope between it's restless progressions. Softer moments appear on "Here's Lookin' At You", "Punch-Drunk Punk Rock Romance" and "Nothing Dreadful Ever Happens" but they are short-lived and not as soothing as they are unnerving. These are the passages where you are introduced to Keith's clean vocals for the first time as an actual component to the music, lending a subdued-by-morphine feel to the songs until the psychosis returns via the riffing madness dueled out by Andy Williams and Jordan to plummet you into the lowest lows.
If there was a memorable bass player that ETID has utilized in the past it would be Aaron Ratajczak. His bass playing not only compliments the music but pushes it even farther than you thought it could go. Just listen to his playing on "Pincushion", "Nothing Dreadful Ever Happens" (where he also contributed piano to the end of the track) and "Shallow Water Blackout", to name a few, as undeniable proof of this statement. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to mention any other ETID release where the bass playing has been as top-notch as it is presented here.
During the recording of "LNIT", Keith was in a hurry to finish writing lyrics for quite a few songs so there are moments where he is literally ranting without any real direction due to penning his words in a drunken, insomnia induced state as he was still finishing his classes at Buffalo University while going back and forth to the recording studio. "The Logic Of Crocodiles", one of ETID's most beloved songs, is on that list although the serious nature of the music mixed with what you would think to be a satirical attack on the corporate world would make you think otherwise. This rushed method helps highlight the dysfunctional attitude of the album, giving it personality despite the fact some of the lyrics were conceived strictly out of time restraints.
All of the components that make-up ETID's first full-length are damn near flawless. Their vicious take on the metalcore sound has evolved over time but nothing since has been quite as brutal or abrasive as "Last Night In Town". Every turn they're waiting to pick a fight with your ear drums and your ears will always lose that battle. In closing, "Shallow Water Blackout" may be the best closer of any ETID record. When you are greeted at the final breakdown with the lines, "The elevated vibration of hysteria / Magnified by the armor of tarn / Flashing lights paint veins across the sky / And everyone along the roadside just wants to see a saint / Oh, the serenity of sirens / The allure of the femme fatale / And her defibrillator hands can't stop me now / I feel quite alright", you realize they just summed up the whole ugly mess in a few stanzas under a monolithic riff. You can't really ask for anything else.
Thank you ETID for one of my favorite albums of all time.