Every Time I Die’s Gutter Phenomenon is the 2005 follow up to 2003’s Hot Damn! It finds the band making a monumental leap forward in terms of its sound while still maintaining their core, raw sensibilities. Gutter Phenomenon was produced and mixed by someone known simply as “Machine,” whose credits also include Haste the Day (Pressure the Hinges), Demon Hunter, Impending Doom, Miss May I, and Lamb of God among others.
I give a lot of props to Machine for the production value, because I firmly believe it helped take the band to the next level in their genre. Obviously, it helps that ETID without fail write killer jams, but the overall “feel” of the record is well-enhanced due to his handiwork.
The Burial Plot Bidding War (2000), Last Night In Town (2001), and Hot Damn! (2003) all sound cheap. There’s no way around that. They sound cheap because they were cheap. While it helped to establish an identity for the band, the production values were low. The albums, for the most part sound muddy and as if they were rushed. In a way, this actually added to the allure of the band. The records sounded messy – nobody expected them to be perfect, but this was a band with punk roots. It made kids want to see them live where they blew people away.
Meanwhile, Gutter Phenomenon sounds much more clean – but by no means polished because of the genre. It bolsters guest appearances from Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) and Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw/Head Automatica), and a slew of “best of ETID” hits.
The first indication of the progression the band made post-Hot Damn! is the opening track, “Apocalypse Now and Then,” which, contrary to popular belief, is NOT a reference to the feminist guide to the end of the world.
“Kill the Music” rips off with a literal tiger/lion/jaguar/apex predatory roar. “Bored Stiff” may very well be the best Every Time I Die song, period. And that’s just the first three songs. There’s ample cowbell in “Tusk and Temper” and “The New Black,”” a precursor to “We’rewolf” from their next release, The Big Dirty (2007). “Champing At The Bit” shines because of Palumbo. “Guitared And Feathered” is a gem.
Gutter Phenomenon is equal parts brash and abrasive. But as always, a major selling point for Every Time I Die is lead vocalist Keith Buckley’s lyrics. His words have always been pointed and pissed off, but the guy is clearly a genius. The mini-stories he weaves, the imagery he crafts sound more reminiscent of something a college English professor would write in his spare time, not the singer of a metal band. Maybe that’s stereotyping.
Feast your eyes:
We are capable of the kind of love about which only the petrified can speak.
Concede him the microphone let him sing the triumph of the frauds to all his loyal sycofanatics.
We all cater to the fire, once the walls come rushing down for shame.
I can say it better than you felt it.
And I can be it bigger than you needed it.
I haven’t lived a day of my life apart from the one that everyone’s read about.
I’ll spark de-evolution.
I was specially bred for the cover page of your magazines.
ETID has never been about musical cheap thrills or recycling material. Their musicianship is sharp, and their lyrics are on some kind of next level genius stage. Definitely one of my favorite bands.
Standout tracks: “Kill the Music,” “Bored Stiff,” “The New Black,” “Guitared and Feathered” – chock full of the hits, man.
Weakest track: “L’Astronaut” or “Pretty Dirty”
RIYL: Hardcore, metalcore, jamcore. The Chariot, Norma Jean, Converge.