If you got comfortable with Every Time I Die’s departure to a more southern party sound on The Big Dirty, the prepare to be uncomfortable with this one. ETID has shed off their party clothes, and they have gone back to work. The boys seemed to have missed the sounds of Gutter Phenomenon and Hot Damn!, because on this release, they’re living in the past.
Where The Big Dirty gave you some room to breath in between the more aggressive songs, The New Junk Aesthetic is relentless, starting with the opening track “Roman Holiday”, which is just one long breakdown. From this point, the album plays quite similarly to Gutter Phenomenon, where it’s just fast aggression, followed by more fast aggression. “Wanderlust” is “The New Black” of this record, and the whole real difference between this and its 2005 counterpart is just that; it’s been four years, with an album in between. The band has become better at what they do. For once, they have a bassist (Josh Newton, formerly of From Autumn to Ashes) that seems to want to be in the band. Mike “Ratboy” Novak left the band shortly after the recording of this album, but you couldn’t tell there was any drama going on in the band, because the drumming is as tight as ever.
A main attraction of this band is Keith Buckley’s lyrics. The ex-English teacher has always been known for writing often witty, memorable one-liners. While, maybe not as prominent as on ETID’s other release, Buckley continues to give the listeners what they want. On “White Smoke”, he repeats “Heavy dagger, be brief” over an extremely moshable breakdown that would fit in nicely with the material on Hot Damn! On “Who Invited the Russian Soldier?” the line “There is nothing to see here, and nothing gazes back at me” sticks out because of its sheer bluntness.
While I loved Gutter Phenomenon, it has made me enjoy this album less. Because the two albums feel so similar, it makes The New Junk Aesthetic already seem old to me. This album is extremely solid, possibly great, but after hearing what this band has previously released, it knocks this release down a little bit. For their next go-around, I would love for them to move forward, instead of getting stuck in reverse.