Every Time I Die
Newport's TJ's, 6th April 2008
Reviewed by Nadine Ballantyne
If you can be classified as a fervent admirer of Metal music and happen to reside in Cardiff or its neighbouring areas, then tonight presents an awkward dilemma. Admirers have either caught the train to Bristol to witness Cleveland, Ohio Metal act Chimaira perform at the Bierkeller, or are fruitlessly attempting to track down event tickets for Every Time I Die's sold out Newport jaunt. Carefully weighing my judgment in light of the last performance yours truly saw courtesy of Chimaira, the preferred option is to carefully gamble, and view a group which yours truly has never heard in the flesh.
During 1998's winter, siblings Keith and Jordan Buckley formed Every Time I Die in Buffalo, New York. Aside from the two siblings, the group's inaugural lineup featured; guitarist Andrew Williams, bassist John McCarthy, and drummer Michael “Ratboy” Novak. The outfit conducted a brief tour which roamed the vicinities of Toronto, Canada and the group's native city, and befriended Goodfellow Records mainman Chris Logan. Cut in November 1999, debut EP Burial Plot Bidding War duly arrived in 2000 via Goodfellow Records. Prior to the recording of the group's inaugural full length, bassist McCarthy was replaced by Aaron Radaczyk. Cut at Zing Studios in Westfield, Massachusetts, Last Night in Town was issued in August 2001 by Ferret Records. A supporting tour slot under Killswitch Engage promoted the album, as did being part of the annual Warped Tour during 2002's summer. A bassist switch occurred yet again, and so Steven Micciche took over Radaczyk's duties. Laid down from February to March 2003 under the guidance of Eric Rachel, sophomore album Hot Damn! arrived in July. A North American supporting slot followed, this time under Jackass star Steve-O. Micciche left in early 2005, and was replaced by Kevin Falk (ex-Between the Buried and Me). Three months later, Falk was usurped by Chris Byrnes (ex-NORA). In mid 2005, the group were part of the Sounds of the Underground tour. With guest vocal appearances from My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way and Glassjaw's Daryl Palumbo, third album Gutter Phenomenon witnessed distribution in August. From late August through to early October, Every Time I Die trekked through North America with High On Fire, The Chariot and The Red Chord. Warped Tour 2006 occupied the summer, and Chris Byrnes played his final show with the group on August 19th at Michigan's Dirtfest - former The Chariot member Keller Harbin filled the vacant position. In a basement within North Tonawanda, the group penned material in support of a fourth album. The recording process began in March, and Steve Evetts produced. From early July to early August 2007, Every Time I Die participated in the third annual Sounds of the Underground tour so that the forthcoming album could be promoted. The Big Dirty was released in September, and sold fourteen thousand copies in its first week of release in the United States, debuting at number forty-one on the Billboard 200 chart. Another bassist change followed that month, marking the induction of Josh Newton (erstwhile Shiner and From Autumn to Ashes member). Alongside Killswitch Engage, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Parkway Drive, the group toured the United States during January and February 2008. As the result of an injury incurred during basketball, drummer Mike Novak was forced to sit out the tour. From mid February to late March, Every Time I Die featured on the Take Action Tour.
Every Time I Die's live ethic, combined with their allegedly energetic material, has been the source of much speculation. To be brutally frank, only an idiot wouldn't choose to be in attendance. Additionally, the concert's venue is none other than the legendary TJ's. Boasting a sweet tooth for Metal gigs, the venue's overwhelming atmosphere is littered with mosh pits, and bouts of crowd surfing. In the likely event of landing onto the stage, the only possible exit is to venture back towards the crowd. That is, unless you're receptive to the notion of an onstage confrontation between yourself and the group. Taking such points into account, Every Time I Die's experience should prove splendid.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids
Upon arriving at the venue, Scary Kids Scaring Kids currently occupy the stage. Lifting their name from Emo Hardcore act Cap'n Jazz's 1998 full length Analphabetapolothology, Post-Hardcore collective Scary Kids Scaring Kids formed in Gilbert, Arizona during 2002. Originally, the lineup consisted of; Tyson Stevens supplying vocals and occupying bass, both DJ Wilson and Chad Crawford handling guitars, and Peter Costa hitting the drumsticks. Following the additions of Steve Kirby and keyboardist Pouyan Afkary to the group's ranks, Wilson chose to switch to bass duties. Cut with Bob Hoag, inaugural EP After Dark was recorded in March 2003 while the group's members were still high school seniors. Independently issued via Hour Zero in June, a reissue by Immortal Records came in February 2005. Once absolutepunk.net posted the group's EP online, a buzz began to circulate Scary Kids Scaring Kids. Following that, they inked a deal with the aforementioned Immortal Records. Produced by Brian McTernan and laid down in under five weeks from January-February, inaugural full length The City Sleeps in Flames arrived in June 2005. During May 2006, Justin Salter replaced Costa as drummer. Since that time, the position has gone to James Ethridge. Supervised by producer Don Gilmore, the groups eponymous sophomore album came in August 2007, and peaked at eighty on the US Billboard Top 200 Charts.
October 18th 2005 at Cardiff's Coal Exchange was the last occasion at which this reviewer saw a performance by Scary Kids Scaring Kids (sharing the support slot with Candiria), and on that specific night Bridgend's Metalcore act Bullet For My Valentine assumed the headlining slot. Unfortunately, a lifeless ambience seemingly robbed the atmosphere of all oxygen. Occasionally, what can only be accurately described as a scene kid would clamor “look at the fit guitarist”, and would fail to pay sufficient attention towards the material being showcased. Tonight's audience seems relatively familiar with the supporting acts however, and exhibit an open willingness to become more acquainted. Despite the fact that the group's Metal credentials pale in comparison to those held by Every Time I Die, Scary Kids Scaring Kids' still conduct a respectable performance nonetheless. In scattered moments, the odd tune stirs the audience's emotions. Accessible, the material comprises a joyous listen. If given the option to choose a preferred audience demographic, a huddled room of Metal admirers definitely should take precedence over scene kids (having said that, a few are littered throughout the motley crowd). Measured against their studio material, Scary Kids Scaring Kids' live sonics weigh a heavier punch. The set rapidly progresses, and the venue's maximum audience figures are met. The stage shares minimal room with each respective group member, thus firmly eliminating the possibility of guitar spins or swings.
Drop Dead, Gorgeous
Striving to reclaim precious minutes, the changeover is hurriedly fraught. When it comes to events organised in TJs, the beginning of a set usually fails to adhere to scheduled times. Drop Dead, Gorgeous demonstrate more vibrancy onstage, and possess a slightly more visible flair for Metal. However, this can be solely attributed to the fact that stage space now seems somewhat more abundant. For a thirty minute duration, Drop Dead, Gorgeous take charge of the reins. Forming in mid 2004, Denver, Colorado's Drop Dead, Gorgeous (not christened after the 1999 comedy Kirsten Dunst as the name would suggest) was originally comprised of the following musicians; Aaron Rothe (vocals/keyboards), Danny Stills (vocals), Danny Cooper (drums), Kyle Browning (guitar), Jake Hansen (bassist), and Dan Gustavson (rhythm guitar). Posting compositions via their respective MySpace and Purevolume pages, this brought them to the attention of Rise Records. The group inked a record contract with that very label in September 2005, though couldn't immediately tour prior or after the release of inaugural January 2006 EP Be Mine, Valentine due to the fact that half of the outfit's members were still in high school. Cut in Oregon during November 2005 with producer Kris Crummett (Fear Before, Anatomy of A Ghost, Still Life Projector), inaugural full length In Vogue arrived in May 2006. 2006's summer saw Drop Dead, Gorgeous paired on dates with the likes of Scars of Tomorrow, Folly, and Calico System. In October, it was announced that the group had signed a deal with Interscope imprint Suretone Records and that producer Ross Robinson (Machine Head, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Sepultura, Norma Jean etc.) would spearhead production on their sophomore effort. To plug that full length, Drop Dead, Gorgeous joined the Rise Records tour alongside labelmates The Devil Wears Prada, Dance Gavin Dance, and At The Throne of Judgment in June. July witnessed several Mexican dates, and that was succeeded by a stint as part of the Vans Warped Tour 2007 (from July 25th to August 25th). Issued in August 2007, Worse Than a Fairy Tale documents the fictional tale of a serial killer who claims his victims in a town by the name of Saylor Lake. Aiden, Still Remains, and 1997 benefited from support courtesy of the act on dates during September and October. Despite the fact that original members had taken various hiatuses, the band's inaugural lineup was intact during mid 2007. However, Rothe departed ways in December as the result of musical differences.
Reaping the benefits of a larger fanbase, the group's followers muscle their way nearer to the stage so that they can scream along with vocalist Danny Stills. Without prior warning, pits erupt in a congested room with audience figures that seemingly violate fire safety rules. A somewhat “epic” quality defines their chosen sound, and every song yearns towards grandeur. The group, especially Stills, display much emotion onstage, and shows no hesitation in interacting with the audience. Given the fact the material possesses a certain tone, the music would greatly suit movie soundtracks where Rock acts figure amongst the recording artists. Without doubt, music critics and listeners alike should take more note. The role of a supporting act is to maximise anticipation for the headlining act, and Drop Dead, Gorgeous ably satisfy those requirements. The audience's appetite for Every Time I Die has substantially increased, so let's hope they grace the stage rather soon.
Every Time I Die
A lengthy amount of time passes, and anticipation increases yet more. Stationed at the side of the stage, Every Time I Die await the opportunity to administer a stellar performance. Technical difficulties, until being resolved, prevent the commencement of the performance, and lifts the spirits of no involved parties. The sound man is gravely irked, and barks at the crew onstage. Every Time I Die's stage crew harbour the same feelings, and yell at TJ's personnel. An unfortunate consequence which can be solely blamed upon the botched mixing of cables, Every Time I Die's patience is slowly dwindling. Once Every Time I Die graces the stage though, the negative aura evaporates. Within a matter of seconds, jubilance lingers. In the confines of the front row, all involved receive an upbeat high five courtesy of the guitarist. Energetically brimful, the group are ready to fire on all cylinders. The set's late beginning sacrifices no minutes nor vibrancy nonetheless, and no audience member will prematurely leave. A dynamic might connotes the group's tracks, and that dynamic might equally figures within the collective's live performances. A sublime experience to behold, the audience lust to participate. Numerous incidents of crowd surfing gush forth, much to the vocalist's gratification. Supplying fuel to the flames, vocalist Keith Buckley implores them to continue. Such words fail to appeal towards the security personnel's affections, not that such words ever do. From the moment he waltzes onto the stage, the vocalist beams an irrepressible charm. Candid humour is a sincere quality which can prove difficult to successfully implement within a live setting, but not for this specific vocalist. Each audience member lies within the palm of his hand, and clasp towards him whenever he spills into the crowd. Security personnel begin to address the ensuing fracas, and take appropriate measures. However, the group launch their perspiring torsos into the very heart of the crowd. A multitude of mobile phones and wallets comprise tonight's lost items, and so numerous individuals situated beside the barrier are crushed, enduring bruises in the process. Such negative developments cannot alter the fact that Every Time I Die has rendered a phenomenal performance, something that outweighs those ill fortunes. It's unlikely that Every Time I Die will return to the venue during the foreseeable future, or perform concerts to such audience figures. The time happens to be 11:49pm, and the actual day is Sunday. Nobody cares, and nobody muses as to whether a train home is actually available.