Aughts metalcore heroes get together and make some noise

Whoa! Here is an EP by Better Lovers, a group combining former Every Time I Die members Jordan Buckley, Steve Micciche, and Clayton “Goose” Holyoak with former The Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato, plus producer and member of Fit for an Autopsy and END, Will Putney.

The four-song EP, God Made Me an Animal, opens with “Sacrificial Participant,” and immediately Puciato’s manic, veiny-neck vocal fills the room. At 1:10, the song spins melodic with a fretboard-tapping, cymbal-riding passage under Puciato’s rubbery and subtly R&B-influenced vocal, "You got manipulated, told lies behind my back / I’m not the one you hated, you’re just looking to unpack.”

At 2:13, the song downshifts, freeing reverb-heavy notes and splashy cymbals to run with the falsetto—“You’re losing time to move, outcomes keep you second guessing / entombed still inside the womb, and I’m not sure you’ll get the message.”

Every Time I Die and Dillinger toured together years ago, but in 2022 Buckley saw Puciato performing in Las Vegas, and one thing led to another. Puciato says, “We’ve all hung out, gotten to know each other, and it’s all fire now. Everyone has already been through shit. You know yourself better. Your ego isn’t as big as it used to be. You can share your opinions. It’s a cool dynamic.”

Buckley says likewise: “This is my life’s work. I learned all of my lessons, passed all of the tests, and took all of the right turns and the wrong turns. It turns out what I thought were wrong turns got me here, and that’s all that matters. I have no regrets. I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

In April, Better Lovers put out a single, “30 Under 13”—right away, you hear an aughts-era breakdown move into a glazed-thicc riff. At 2:08, the song drops into speed metal topped off with a virtuosic little guitar solo. Puciato often dominates songs, but the rhythm section gets time in the spotlight on this one. The finalé crushes with breakdown-style riffing and the attention-seeking vocal, "How far are you willing to reach? You can’t become like this fucking machine! Oh, you shouldn’t hold onto me, hold onto me, let go of me, let go of me, try to hold on to me, hold on to me, try to let go of me, let go of me, of what you’ll never be!"

It shows lots of Puciato’s nose in your face, but the video looks good. The dark background and red and warm-white lights burn and reflect off instruments and faces, all stars in a dying galaxy.

“For some reason, this song got me,” says Puciato. “Once that happens, you have the toe of the dinosaur skeleton in the dirt. You start brushing it away, and soon you have a fucking T-Rex.”

Drums hop ahead as the guitar and bass move with wild agility on the EP’s title track, “God Made Me an Animal.” At 1:25, the song hits fault-line-grooving riffs. At 2 minutes, a melodic muted-metal sequence jets, the vocal crooning, "Deny your skin and bone, pretend the flesh hides stone / I’m sitting here, we’re talking, but we know we have to go / and I’m afraid there’s nothing that can make this clearer / I wish that we could be nearer / anything to get you here or closer—anything to get you closer, anything to get us closer, anything to get us closer!"

Puciato describes the project: “Better Lovers definitely feels like its own thing. I’m in so many lanes right now, so it was important that one lane didn’t step on another. However, nothing I’m doing is this vicious. This is full-on scathing. It’s been really fun. I forgot how much I liked that.” Buckley also comments on what the project means to him: “Greg and Will rejuvenated me and made me even more confident.”

Listen here. Putney mixed and mastered the EP; it sounds crisp and clean. God Made Me an Animal was released July 7, 2023. Better Lovers are about to tour, sometimes headlining, sometimes backing. Here are the planned tour dates:

July 13 Buffalo, NY Rec Room (Early & Late Shows) SOLD OUT
July 14 Detroit, MI The Majestic Theatre
July 16 Chicago, IL The Salt Shed
July 17 Louisville, KY Old Forester’s Paristown Hall
July 18 Cleveland, OH The Foundry SOLD OUT
July 19 Reading, PA Santander Arena
July 21 New Haven, CT College Street Music Hall
July 22 Syracuse, NY Sharkey’s Bar and Grill
July 23 Toronto, ON RBC Echo Beach
July 24 Montreal, QC L’Olympia
July 25 Ottawa, ON Galerie SAW Gallery
July 27 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony Summer Stage
July 28 Brooklyn, NY Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
July 29 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Pavilion
July 30 Worcester, MA The Palladium Outdoors
July 31 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
August 1 Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues
August 3 Tampa, FL Yuengling Center
August 4 Boca Raton, FL Sunset Cove Amphitheater
August 5 St. Augustine, FL St. Augustine Amphitheatre Night Market
August 6 Atlanta, GA Coca-Cola Roxy
August 8 New Orleans, LA Orpheum Theater
August 10 Houston, TX Bayou Music Center
August 11 San Antonio, TX Boeing Center at Tech Port
August 12 Dallas, TX The Factory in Deep Ellum
September 24 Birmingham, AL Furnace Fest
October 4 Brighton, UK Chalk
October 5 London, UK New Cross Inn SOLD OUT
October 6 London, UK The Dome SOLD OUT
October 7 Leeds, UK Brudenell Social Club (Early & Late Shows) SOLD OUT
October 14 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room SOLD OUT
October 15 Los Angeles, CA The Roxy SOLD OUT
October 16 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre

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