Metal group Every Time I Die seems to be aptly named: Not only does its frenzied sound leave its songs grasping for breath, but the group was involved recently in a serious van accident. One unidentified band member posted a description of the crash on the group's Web site with so much casual detail ("My long island iced tea was spilt all over my 1/2 pound of alaskan king crab legs") as to confirm the group's apparent nine lives.
Although the band's latest, "Gutter Phenomenon," was recorded and released months before the crash, Keith Buckley's vocals capture the urgency of one teetering between life and death. Although most of the tracks feature Buckley's screaming growls over squealing guitar riffs, the group slows down its assault for a few actual vocal melodies and rhythmic handclaps on "Pretty Dirty," hinting at a softer side behind their death-escaping bravado.
Haste the Day takes metal in a different direction, alternating distorted vocals with clear singing. The results sound almost demonic, but Haste the Day is actually a Christian band. Their lyrics are more spiritual than preachy ("We're so weak but as one, we'll tear them down/We're gonna break these walls"), but the juxtaposition of hoarse growls and uplifting lyrics gives Haste the Day an unusual twist on traditional metal.
-- Catherine P. Lewis