Two years of touring anywhere and everywhere in support of 2003's "Hot Damn!" has paid off in helping Buffalo's EVERY TIME I DIE create an album that comes as close to harnessing the energy of the band's raucous live performances as it's likely to ever get. One of the "scene's" strongest live acts, translating said energy to compact disc should speak volumes to those who've witnessed the band's insane stage presence. Keith Buckley's vocal lessons also pay off in a big way. His patented manic screams have been refined, but only in the sense of being fuller and more controlled. Rather than bring ETID's style in line with the emo vocal overkill of so many of today's 'core bands, the addition of clean vocals to Buckley's repertoire simply broadens the sound on tracks like "Apocalypse Now and Then". Trust me, the added vocal variety is not about polishing the album into a commercially "acceptable" product, even if some will find it an easier listen than past efforts. A couple of special guests participate in the vocal revelry as well. Daryl Palumbo (GLASSJAW) and Gerard Way (MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE) contribute to "Champing at the Bit" and "Kill the Music", respectively.
"Gutter Phenomenon" still sounds like an ETID album, an attribute that the overly discerning critic may liken to unnecessary risk aversion. Be that as it may, never once did I get the feeling that the band was attempting to morph into a more traditional "metalcore" act in which breakdowns are key and the overused clean/harsh vocal approach is paramount. The group never really fit snugly into the genre anyway. While fundamentally a hardcore band, ETID is also a barnstorming rock 'n' roll machine that just happens to utilize angular rhythms, dissonant chords and schizophrenic drumming. Nothing has changed with "Gutter Phenomenon". A blue-collar work ethic and freewheeling, fun loving attitude should always keep ETID honest, allowing the band to continue to make entertaining albums. Carefully selecting sound enhancements without abandoning the core approach keeps the music fresh, though still familiar. Most importantly, "Gutter Phenomenon" is about letting it all hang out and freaking the fuck out. What else would you expect from ETID?