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01. Apocalypse Now And Then
02. Kill The Music
03. Bored Stiff MP3
04. Easy Tiger
05. Tusk And Temper
06. The New Black
07. Champing At The Bit
08. Gloom And How it Gets That Way
09. Guitared And Feathered
11. Pretty Dirty
Of all the groups playing this style of music, Every Time I Die have always been the most overtly obvious piss-takers. From their wickedly funny interviews, penchant for dressing up or the hilarious promo video for "Ebolorama," the group are notorious wind-up merchants to the extent that occasionally the group’s wise-cracking overshadows their music.
With this in mind, it seems that Gutter Phenomenon is an attempt to firmly establish the group’s presence in the field and during the writing period the musicians made much of the fact that they were keen for this album to be taken seriously - focussing on memorable songs instead of memorable parts.
But have the band achieved their goal Well, yes. And no.
The production by Machine has given the band their fullest sound to date, backing the guitars with a thick rhythm section. However, the new production has had a detrimental effect on Keith Buckley’s vocals: his bluesy howl now a thing of the past, his voice now guttural, abrasive and unfortunately, less distinctive.
Similarly the vocal cameos from Gerard Way of (My Chemical Romance) and Daryl Palumbo (Head Automatica/Glassjaw) feel like a strange inclusion, as all three singers sound so similar it’s difficult to tell when it’s Buckley delivering a melody or a guest. Palumbo in particular seems like a strange choice as in the past Buckley has been accused of aping his delivery. The cynical might suggest it’s an attempt to draw in curious fans from those more melodic acts.
Ironically, for an album that was so clearly concerned with memorable songs, sections of Gutter Phenomenon fail to capture the frantic urgency that made Hot Damn such an enjoyable listen. The songs "Easy Tiger" and "The New Black" feel like forced attempts to delve into a Southern Rock direction whilst the last two songs on the record pass by without impact.
It's not to say that this is a weak album by any means. Tracks like "Kill The Music" and "Tusk & Temper" showcase the band’s reckless abandon, whilst "Gloom & How It Gets That Way" is quite possibly the best song the band has ever written. A master-class in dynamics, it’s proof (as if it were needed) that guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams are two of the most mind-bogglingly inventive guitarists in metal, and confirmation that the twisted lyrical vignettes of Keith Buckley, ("You weren't supposed to open the door, just keep the plane from drifting off-course… The choir on the black box rejoiced splendidly, singing hallelujah the king is dead"), should be turned into short stories.
Bottom Line: It would be foolish to write the band off yet, as this is still a strong record, however in comparison with the evolution in sound of other important follow-up albums (Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, Beecher) this feels less a leap forward, more a tentative step.
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