We live in uncertain times. Technology has undoubtedly enhanced our existence, but it has also made us vulnerable to government interference, sensory overload and identity theft. Generally this isn't the type of subject matter breached by hardcore bands, but then again Buffalo, New York's Every Time I Die have never been a typical hardcore act. In fact for over a decade the band have been forging their own musical and ideological path via their immediately distinctive brand of aggressive music—and that process is culminating with the band's fifth full-length (and Epitaph debut) New Junk Aesthetic, an album that sees the band not just shifting the hardcore paradigm but completely reinventing it via brutal riffs, impassioned lyrics and kinetic energy.
Currently comprised of vocalist Keith Buckley, guitarist Jordan Buckley, guitarist Andy Williams and bassist Josh Newton, New Junk Aesthetic sees Every Time I Die returning to their roots in order to craft their most devastating release to date. However in true EITD fashion, there's a method behind their madness. "When we were writing these songs it was a real awakening for the band," explains vocalist Keith Buckley. "We were like, 'we've been a band for almost 12 years and now we're on a new label and have a second chance at life'—and I think it invigorated everyone to write heavier, faster music," he continues. "When we were listening to the demos I was like, 'Jesus, I haven't worked on stuff that's this difficult to write to since [2003's] Hot Damn!, so it's really cool to go back to that again and capture it on tape."
From the opening battle cry of "Roman Solider" to the album's grandiose rock finale "The Sweet Life," New Junk Aesthetic is a sonic progression for the band that takes their seasoned sound to the next level. "The scene right now is saturated with people doing nonsense; just sort of adding a million different instruments and ignoring time signatures, so I think in some ways this entire album is a reaction to that," Buckley explains. This statement is especially evident in tracks like "White Smoke" and "Who Invited The Russian Solider?" which are instrumentally stripped-down, yet manage to sound far more aggressive than so-called metalcore acts who rely more on gimmicks and empty posturing than anything of substance.
Correspondingly, in usual Every Time I Die fashion, the lyrics on New Junk Aesthetic are anything but typical hardcore ranting and read more like a thesis statement than rehashed rhetoric. "A lot of the songs on the record turned out in the theme of constantly being watched or followed; it delves a little into paranoia, but there's reason for people to be paranoid now because there are people watching them all the time," Buckley explains. "It's not something that's an irrational fear anymore, it's legit," he continues. "With YouTube and cameras everywhere, everything you're doing could show up on the internet without you even knowing [it]; you could have a million views of you doing kung fu in your backyard when you think you're alone and you won't even know that many people have seen you—and that sounds funny, but it's actually kind of scary when you think about it."
However while the subject matter may be serious, that doesn't mean that Every Time I Die haven't abandoned their iconic sense of humor, which has helped them forge a deep relationship with their fans and given them a reputation as one of the most entertaining acts to tour alongside. "No one writes riffs as jokes, but I think of humor as a really good defense mechanism to truncate all the things that could cause you to micromanage your own life," Buckley explains. "I think humor is the best defense mechanism because once you understand what's bothering you it's easier to deal with if you spit it back out as a joke," he continues. "Obviously I've been around long enough understand the way the world works, but I'm just not going to let my own issues get to me the way they get to so many other people. I'd rather laugh about something than let it ruin my day—and I think that ideology figures into our music, too."
Every Time I Die's unorthodox approach to music has also allowed them to crossover to various scenes and make dedicated converts all over the world. "I'm really grateful for the fact that we can go on Ozzfest one year and Warped Tour the next," says Buckley. On these tours Every Time I Die have bonded with countless acts from across the sonic spectrum which is evidenced by the fact that Bronx's Matt Caughthran lends his vocals to "The Sweet Life" while Dillinger Escape Plan's screamer Greg Puciato is featured on "The Marvelous Slut." "Obviously as a musician you have an obligation to the people that like you and you don't want to let them down," Buckley explains, "but as someone who listens to many types of music, being able to work with people in so many different avenues is a blessing—and I'm not going to bypass that because I'm worried about what other people think."
Ultimately that type of attitude is exactly what has helped Every Time I Die thrive for over a decade and forge their own path in an increasingly homogenized musical landscape. "I think that we're always one step ahead of the curve and we know that this isn't going to last forever so this is the only chance we have to make this count," Buckley responds when asked how the band have managed to outlast so many of their peers. In the end, ETID acknowledge that everyone will have their own interpretation of New Junk Aesthetic, they just want people to give it a chance and make up their minds for themselves. "Maybe this album is the best thing in the world and maybe it's garbage, but at least you're hearing it," Buckley summarizes. "It's all personal interpretation."