Review Summary: "I can't stay here knowing love is not enough."
In life, so far that I’ve observed, we as humans seem to latch onto ideas or people that we can connect to. There is something about the draw of realising ourselves at a deeper level through the art or concepts that we consume that attracts us. Usually those realizations are minor, but in other cases those things are far rarer and end up playing an almost magically powerful way of shaping our character. That’s just a surface level scratch at what Low Teens has become to me, but it certainly sets the stage. I’ve played this record so many times that every lyric has begun to write itself into my very veins. That is the power of what such forms of art and thought can do.
Low Teens appeared to me almost mystically at one of my lowest points. During the frigid and violent winter of my senior year in highschool, during the period where everyone was reminiscing and conversing about where they were going off to college, I was stuck. I was stranded in my hometown and forced to attend the local community college for financial reasons. Nothing felt right to me at that point. I had reached a low point in my ongoing battle with insomnia and anhedonia, I had recently undergone a nasty breakup with a girl that had fooled me thoroughly about her character, and while everyone seemed so optimistic I was feeling far from anything but a deep sense of apathy and frustration. I awoke, I existed, I drank, and then I slept. My life was so painlessly simple, and yet it felt like the most grating slog on an endless path of chipped glass and jagged concrete. Even still, something kept me going in the most low and desperate way. This album provided a point of anger and meaning that I could relate to. A reference point that proved I wasn’t alone against the deep sense of apathy that was gnawing at everything inside of me. For a time that seemed so bleak, this album and a lot of cheap beer were the only things that kept me moving. That is what Low Teens achieves.
Keith Buckley, and the rest of the band in Every Time of Die, have never been strangers to angry, apathetic, and alcohol-induced music. But there was something different about the lyrics in this album - Keith’s personal life. He has often mentioned coping with the difficult issues in his life by clouding them in a sense of tongue-in-cheek humor and playfully deceptive lyricism, but far less of that comes in to this album. Keith had finally found a lover that made his life make sense, and yet nothing good can truly last. He wrote this album as his wife was hospital bound in a state that nearly lost both her life and the life of his new child. While any new father should be ecstatic at the idea of childbirth, an already exhausted and nihilistic Keith was forced into a new state of being - nearly losing the only two things in his life that had finally given him meaning. Lyricism was his coping method and in the intense fear that permeated that brief period of his life, he was torn to shreds internally. Instead of coping how he normally would, he penned the most lyrically raw depiction into his soul that a talented lyricist could ever muster. A brief but painful writhing against the fear and agony in his very being as he wrestled with the hopeless frustration of trying to understand why all of this was happening to him. Luckily, his wife and child survived, but that event allowed him to create the most powerful and honest lyrics that he had ever written. Lyrics that almost made sense of this abstract mess of being that we exist in, lyrics that almost made sense of this mess of being that will never fully make sense.
With all of the heartstrings tugged, and the messy melodramatic truths I’ve spilled about myself, this is also the pinnacle of ETID’s history in terms of execution, instrumentalism, and enjoyment. Every influence built up over the last four albums find themselves utilized perfectly in the concatenation that is this album. There are no weak links at all. None. The production and instrumentals are powerful and groothing in a southern styled mess of carnage, and the lyrics are poetic, nihilistic, and deeply honest. Every moment has a purpose and every lyric has a place. I am excited for ETID’s future, but I can’t physically imagine them creating a better and more fulfilling album than this.
I’ve listened to a great many number of albums over the years that exist within the metalcore and hardcore territories, but this album consistently surpasses any other to me. Passed Botch, passed Fear Before the March of Flames, passed Poison the Well, passed Converge, to me this album is the definitive metalcore/hardcore album. Maybe it’s the personal meaning that this album continues to develop internally for me, but this album has swallowed me whole regardless. Though my opinion may be meaningless, this album has become a definitive part of my life that I hope will never leave. That is the power of Low Teens, and by extension, that is what art and thought can do for the human mind. It can define it and shape it in such a way that we can better realize who we are and what we mean. It can help us find an intuitive and informative reference point against the void of meaning, and is there anything else one can hope to find out of art？