A Cold City Set Ablaze – Every Time I Die and the virtues of Buffalo, New York.
An article by Kris Kielich
I hail from a city in the U.S. called Buffalo. Located in the Western most part of the state of New York. It’s bordered by one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and is known for being the birthplace of chicken wings, its pro sports teams, and its proximity to Niagara Falls. It’s part of the country known as the “Rust Belt”: a line of industrial cities that saw a downturn after steel mills closed down years ago.
It also gets very, very cold.
Buffalo in the winter can be harsh and bitter, and the temperature with the wind chill is often below zero. That, combined with the feet upon feet of snow we receive thanks to the aforementioned lake and the abysmal performance of our aforementioned sports teams creates a complex attitude of those who have lived their lives in the area. It’s a mix of cynicism and gratitude, of compassion and bitterness. Citizens of Buffalo are hardy folk who know how to have a good time in spite of the ice, because they know the joy that comes from being battered and banding together, and waiting for the beautiful Buffalo summers that emerge from the cold.
The same is true for the music of EVERY TIME I DIE.
Growing up a metal fan in the area, it became immediately apparent just how important Every Time I Die was to the local scene, as well as how well they capture the spirit of the town they came from. When I first heard the monstrous opening riff to “Wanderlust,” that perfect combination of grit, sludge, and melody, I was hooked. To this day I feel a swell of pride whenever I listen to them and remember that these dudes are from Buffalo.
First and foremost about my love of this group is frontman/lyricist Keith Buckley. Not only can I say from personal experience that he’s an incredibly forthcoming and open person, but his lyrics are some of the best examples of what I suppose could be called blue collar poet laureate writing. It’s as if Soren Kierkegaard or Franz Kafka suddenly decided to head down to the steel mill and get some grime under their fingernails and sweat under their hardhats.
His well read background as an English teacher and his sardonic wit marry a perfect blend of literary reference, existential questioning, absolute, and some of the best executed wordplay of the genre. That, and his absolute grief and anger at having been put through some horrific experiences create a vocalist and lyricist who is vital to the here and now and one who captures the pain often expressed in metal in a whole new light. There are too many amazing lines to quote from songs, so check out “Map Change,” “Typical Miracle,” “Moor,” and “Holy Book of Dilemma,” as just a few of my favorite examples. From the urgency of questions of life and death to seething in anger over the assault of a loved one, it’s thought provoking work through and through.
Meanwhile, the rest of the band do their part to do their hometown proud by reflecting the heartbeat of this town. Just as the snow turns brown and filthy from the boots that tread through it on the asphalt of the city streets, so do the riffs and guitar work of Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams reflect that sludge. One always complements the other, and the riffs in ragers like “El Dorado,” “Decayin’ With the Boys,” and “The New Black” get the crowd moshing and surfing like nothing I’ve ever seen at a live show. The riffs and breakdowns are brutal, but with enough spice to give some great flavor, like a perfect Buffalo chicken wing. Bassist Steve Micciche adds that thunderous low end, which is especially noticeable on their newest album, Low Teens.
And drummer Clayton “Goose” Holyoak is new to the party, but from what I’ve seen, he can play those oh so tasty drum fills that ETID is known for with the best of them. Micciche and Holyoak are that rhythm of the thundering late night train that carries the factory workers, regretful drunks, and the late night dreamers of Buffalo home. And it’s a beautiful picture indeed.
Oh, and if you’re interested in catching an Every Time I Die live show, you best be prepared because it’s going to be a rowdy one. Bodies will be flying, and the whole crowd will be moving from the front to the back. Seeing a few ETID hometown shows in my time, I can honestly say they are some of the most energetic live metalcore shows that I’ve ever seen. When you first hear Keith Buckely’s gravelly roar in brutal songs like “Saturnalia,” “The Coin Has a Say,” or “Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space,” you’re going to be thrown if you’re not prepared. These guys know how to deliver in a live setting, and they know how to get the pits moving and continue to amplify the crowd song after song. You want some crushing breakdowns, you got it. You want some shout along choruses and memorable lines? Done. It’s everything you could want out of a great metal show.
I think, at the end, that the one thing that makes Every Time I Die one of my favorite groups in metalcore is that not only that they’re from my hometown, but that they always have had the “never say die” attitude of Buffalo from day one. They’ve never been the biggest metalcore band in the scene, and they may not go down as one of the great institutions of the genre. But like the people of the city that they, and I, come from, they always, always, always know that the joy of life comes from working as hard as you can for the people you love every day, and receiving the love they give you in return. Whether it’s in its sports, in its businesses and corner stores, its factories and its streets, and especially in its metal, Buffalo knows how to grind every single damn day. It earns its respect and its love the hard way, by fighting for it. Through a shared sense of brotherhood, the people of Buffalo reach down through the snow to grasp their neighbors hand and lift them up, no matter the circumstance. This is why Every Time I Die will continue to be vital years into the future of the genre.
Every Time I Die will show you just how cold it can get, and just when you’re about to freeze to death, they will lift you out.
And you will know the light that comes from surviving the coldest, darkest places. That is something that never goes out of fashion.
I am very proud to host this article about Every Time I Die and valuable contents by our Senior Editor and music journalist Kris Kielich. To find out more about Kris, sneak peek into his music background and bio at:
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