Every Time I Die singer Keith Buckley openly acknowledges that his band felt it had a lot to live up to with the group's new CD, The Big Dirty.
Much of the pressure came from Gutter Phenomenon, the fourth release from the Buffalo, N.Y., group. That album earned rave reviews (Revolver magazine, in fact, named it album of the year for 2005) and established ETID as one of the most distinctive and talented groups on the Hardcore/Metal scene.
But while following up Gutter was a challenging proposition, Buckley said he came to embrace the pressure that came with writing and recording The Big Dirty.
"That's all over the lyrics, that stuff," he says. "That's a common theme, just being on a Petri dish. There are just so many more people expecting certain things, but at the same time that really is necessarily. For me personally I need that pressure because being comfortable is absolutely no catalyst for being creative."
Much of the pressure, Buckley says, stemmed from wanting to retain a distinctive identity within a genre that has grown much more populated in recent years.
"I think that there was a lot of internal pressure with this record," he says. "We're all so inundated with millions and millions of bands and you have access to everyone's music, it's really important to kind of stay one step ahead of the pack because there's going to be a slew of new bands that are coming out and just copying other styles. So it was really important for us to do what we've done, which is always to try to stay ahead of the curve."
So far during its career ETID has done an admirable job of carving out a distinctive niche within the crowded Hardcore/modern Metal scene. ETID formed in Buffalo in 1998 and debuted two years later with a five-song EP, The Burial Plot Bidding. But it wasn't until the band returned with its first full-length CD, 2001's Last Time in Town, that it really started to make a mark on the Hardcore scene.
In attempting to stay ahead of other bands and retain its distinctive identity, Buckley says the band stepped back toward the more technical playing of its earlier albums while retaining the melodic appeal of Gutter Phenomenon.
"As far as I'm concerned (The Big Dirty) is more like a Hot Damn, Part 2, which is really just to say it's got the same sound," Buckley says, referring to the band's high-powered 2003 sophomore album. "It's very raw, and there's a lot more Punk attitude in it, which I think Gutter didn't have. But I think the songs are like a part two. I don't mean a carbon copy of it. I mean it's as if we wrote it like we wrote Hot Damn, except we're far more mature now and we know what we like and we tweaked everything up a bit.
"I think the hard songs are a lot harder, and I think the melodies are a lot more memorable. I think we've just stepped it up in every aspect of our songwriting."
The Big Dirty takes the sound ETID began to crystallize on Gutter to a new level. Songs like "We'rewolf," "Pigs Is Pigs" and "A Gentleman's Sport" offer good examples of the stylistic mix, as drummer Mike Novak churns out high energy tempos while the guitars of Jordan Buckley (the singer's brother) and Andy Williams fly from melodic riffs to unhinged chords and fills. The result is a furious sound that also packs a melodic wallop.
Fans who see Every Time I Die on its current tour with Killswitch Engage and Dillinger Escape Plan will get a taste of The Big Dirty. But Buckley says the band will resist the urge to load its set with new songs because he knows the audience is just getting to know the new CD.
"They want to hear something they're familiar with, so you have to pander to the crowd," he says. "But we're excited to play new stuff and we do make the final call."
EVERY TIME I DIE plays Bogart's on Saturday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)