Every Time I Die’s headliner in support of last year’s Low Teens brought out three bands you could more or less easily categorize as “hardcore”: Knocked Loose, Harm’s Way, and Eternal Sleep. And they brought it to a smaller venue than the one they played Boston last time, which they sold out easily here.
Eternal Sleep kicked it off early with their brand of modern, heavy metallic hardcore. For a smaller-ish hardcore band, they’ve been doing longer tours regularly now: Last year they had a two-week outing with Nails and a half-month with Cruel Hand in the fall. (Not to mention a 2015 fortnight with Code Orange which included Harm’s Way, actually.) It absolutely shows, as they’ve evolved into a very tight and entertaining live act; they performed with a crisp precision you don’t always hear in this style. They played cuts from last year’s very solid The Emptiness Of… like “Red Herring”, “Revisionist”, “Straw Man”, and “Flesh/Blood”, a few of which have some clean singing not unlike that of early ETID, really. Despite them opening, there was a nice-sized crowd already present, and kids were definitely into it, smiling and moshing across the floor at various junctures.
For whatever reason, Harm’s Way has been a band difficult for me to fully enjoy. I think I’ve always just heard them as too heavy and monolithic to really penetrate, if that makes any sense; I gave them a fair shake here and certainly didn’t hate it. They might not be my cup of tea, but it’s hard to deny how well they brew it. Their set was also a very congruent follow-up to Eternal Sleep’s: heavy, metallic hardcore with a steady, headbang-worthy beat, a frontman possessing a lower-end, corrosive growl, and a little bit of clean singing every now and again. And certainly a shade heavier, with two guitarists instead of one. But they also threw in drum samples and industrial-sounding interludes that made things interesting and stand out from the pool of ‘90s-influenced bands they find themselves in. They played well, and there was a slight uptick in crowd activity as they pounded through their set.
Harm’s Way and Eternal Sleep are certainly the most harmonious pairing of all bands on this package. In a way, Knocked Loose are operating in the same headspace - again: heavy, metallic hardcore you could say, more or less - yet in a very different way. Theirs is a strange mutation of it, with deathcore and early 2000s metalcore influences stewed in. It was very goofy; picture the surface-level heaviness of the Acacia Strain with earlier Code Orange’s random part patchwork, and enough “Massachusetts!” and “side-to-side!” callouts to make up a drinking game the band’s members probably couldn’t legally partake in. It ignited the crowd into thrilled hysterics. Many were moshing, as far as I could tell behind the packed audience on the floor with a limited vantage point of what was going on (there was at least one person escorted out with a broken and/or bloodied something-or-other), and just as many were standing still and throwing their fist along in the air. For what it’s worth, they also played well; they just carried a particular tone and seemingly nonlinear songwriting style that’s just not my thing.
Every Time I Die came out to very warm and raucous cheers, which wasn’t terribly surprising; Boston’s a good market for them, with a wide mix of open-minded hardcore kids, 30-year-olds who never outgrew their early 2000s metalcore tastes, deathcore fans, and people who probably just like “heavy rock” or whatever. And they’re a veteran band who have never rested on their laurels, progressing tastefully in tinkering with their sound and having no long gaps between new records. As he is wont to do, frontman Keith Buckley shouted out all the Boston influences they said they wouldn’t exist without: Converge, Cave In, the Hope Conspiracy and American Nightmare. Buckley also strongly nurtured the intimate atmosphere, proclaiming it a hardcore show and encouraging all to steal the mic and share the stage, like a cross between Scott Vogel and Dan Yemin. “You can do whatever what you want,” Buckley said, even encouraging dives when there was no music. He bantered amicably throughout the set, mentioning they were Bruins fans now that ex-Sabre Drew Stafford was in Boston, and even introduced one long-time dedicated fan and brought her on stage. With no barricade and an unusually lax security detail for the Middle East downstairs (I’ve seen it go both ways, from this to zero tolerance), it made for a very fun and open gig. You could tell by the end the band was running out of steam, the songs sounding just a little bit slower and messier, but that was because they were giving it their all for the other 60 minutes they were blasting through with reckless energy. I certainly have my favorite records of theirs and preferred some songs to others (“If you’re old, come up and sing along,” Buckley said before playing a Hot Damn! favorite), but taken as a whole it was a super entertaining set, with surprisingly good vibes in the room throughout. They even threw back to Last Night in Town for one song, touching on all eight (!) of their full-lengths. It all culminated in a stage invasion for the last song, with the ultimate highlight being guitarist Jordan Buckley lifting up a Wizard Security rep (maybe the top guy; he’s probably the oldest) on his shoulders.
Set list (9:23-10:25):
- Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space
- Decayin’ with the Boys
- Bored Stiff
- Romeo a Go-Go
- The New Black
- Two Summers
- It Remembers
- The Coin Has a Say
- Emergency Broadcast Syndrome
- Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Battery
- I Didn’t Want to Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway
- No Son of Mine
- Map Change
- Fear and Trembling
- Awful Lot
- Indian Giver