So you know how a band will take something that they wrote that does really well with the fans and expand on it? The Offspring, for example, found out that by writing a "witty" punk rock song they could sell lots of albums.
On Every Time I Die's last album Hot Damn!, that song was, "I've Been Gone a Long Time." Featuring a cowbell and some rock n' roll infused riffage, kids in the metalcore scene fell ridiculously in love and to this day it still receives the most crowd response in their live set. Well, it seems as if Every Time I Die took that formula and made an entire album out of it. Gutter Phenomenon, the third full-length from this Buffalo, New York quintet, is full of hammer-on-pull-off riffs that made that song stand out from the standard metalcore fair.
Don't get me wrong; this is still very much a metalcore album. Breakdowns are abound on the album; sometimes they're a bit facetious, other times they seem just right. Either way, I initially enjoyed this album more than Hot Damn!, but that excitement has started to fade. The main reason is that the vocals don't sound as great as they did before. Many times during this album, when Keith Buckley wasn't whining or actually singing, his screams sounded so forced that I actually feel pain in my throat. - that can't be good, right? They just don't seem as natural as they did on the previous albums.
Guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andrew Williams, on the other hand, are in top form as they bust out twisted riff after twisted riff. They stick to the same off-kilter tempos throughout most of the album, but the hammer-on-pull-off riff formula starts to tire towards the end of the album. The tone sounds great, but I find myself bored by the time I get to "Pretty Dirty." The bass and drums sound great too, but this album seems lacking in the urgency that Hot Damn! had. Part of this can be contributed to the unnecessary song length throughout most of the album. Many times, the band just repeats a riff over and over, goes to a bridge, and then goes right back to the previous riff. This gets tiresome after three or four minutes.
Lyrically, however, this album would deserve a 9.5. I've always loved the extended metaphors, frank sarcasm, and witty intelligence to Buckley's lyrical style and he doesn't disappoint here. How could you not like something like this?
Pull the car over, you're frightening the kids. What did you promise us about grinning in the rear view without your fake teeth in? Keep your glass eye glued on the end of the highway up ahead of us. The collision is always licking its lips.
This album is okay. "Kill The Music" and "Gloom and How it Gets that Way" are my favorites of the album, but this album lost its novelty fairly quickly. If you're a fan of this band, you'll probably like it. Most everyone else will hate it.
6.5 / 10
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