Gutter Phenomenon is 10 years old!
01. Apocalypse Now and Then
02. Kill the Music
03. Bored Stiff
04. Easy Tiger
05. Tusk and Temper
06. The New Black
07. Champing at the Bit
08. Gloom and How it Gets That Way
09. Guitarred and Feathered
11. Pretty Dirty
The term “gutter phenomenon” was coined in the 50s to describe the sinfulness of that new fangled, tight-trousered ‘fad’ that was rock and roll. How apt, then, that Buffalo party metal outfit Every Time I Die chose it as the moniker for their third album; brash, dirty and way too much fun to be right and proper, Gutter Phenomenon is one of the classic, quintessential Every Time I Die records.
Indeed, at the time the bad-boy aesthetic was certainly one of their main selling points – but rather than the cock-sure swagger that comes with most of those leather jacket-wearing ruffians your mama warned you about, there’s a tangible air of self-deprecation about ETID. A 2006 interview with Lancaster Online was titled “Hardcore, but not hostile”, which pretty much sums it up; they rev up on a metaphorical motorbike, and then sing about being a cunt.
But sell it did: their first album to debut on the U.S. Billboard 200, it reached #71 on the main chart, and #10 on the independent chart. If nothing else, it got them on the radar: indeed, gamers may well be familiar with “The New Black“, the album’s signature single and perhaps even one of their best known songs, featured as iot was on both Guitar Hero II and 2006 racing game MotorStorm. If any album was their breakthrough, it was this one. It’s accessible, but retains that rock n roll edge that makes what they do so satisfying.
Helping them along the way were a couple collaborators, which again might have given them a push. In particular, the vocal stylings of Gerard Way on “Kill The Music” might have grabbed the attention of rabid My Chemical Romance fans, but the appearance of Glassjaw/Head Automatica frontman Daryl Palumbo on “Champing at the Bit” won’t have done any harm either.
As ever with ETID, the stars of the show are the riffs. Andy and Jordan have shown over the years how astute they are at writing both catchy and aggressive guitar lines – the perfect foil to Keith’s vocals, which are half bravado (“We should all just thank god I’m alive.”), half scathing deprecation (“Your captain nailed his feet to someone else’s ship at the sight of me.”) – and Gutter Phenomenon is fit to bursting with big, brash guitar work. From the stop-starts of opener “Apocalypse Now And Then” to the scratchy quality of “L’Astronaut“, it’s never exactly flashy, but it’s sweaty and satisfying, and you can see the threads that run from this right into 2007′s southern rock masterpiece The Big Dirty.
Every Time I Die released five records in the noughties, but I don’t think anyone has ever really tired of them. Indeed, one of the most endearing qualities about Every Time I Die records is their brevity; every two years you get thirty solid minutes of riffs n’ roll with absolutely no filler and one of the best modern metal lyricists. Gutter Phenomenon was no different, and like all of them should be lauded for its place in launching the band to where they are.
If you’ve never heard it, grab your mom’s car keys and head for the nearest dive bar with it blaring because fuck yeah, we’re gonna party tonight…