Most bands don’t age gracefully. After a decade or two, many lose their urgency, their momentum, their emotional range, and never reignite that which made them special.
The opposite is true of The Casket Lottery, whose newest full-length Short Songs for End Times showcases a band at their best—their tightest, toughest, most intense—and more than twenty years after their first release. On the opener “You Are A Knife,” it’s easy to hear the hallmarks that have defined the Kansas City-band for decades—the heat, the tension, the smoke so thick it’s hard to see the fire smoldering at the center. Here, Stacy Hilt’s bass bounces beneath Jason Trabue's throbbing drumbeat, beneath guitars that chop and churn up clouds of thick, dirty chords, beneath Nathan Ellis’ melodic screech. Short Songs for End Times seems to comment on a turbulent year as it unfolds, attempting to make sense of that which we wish we could forget. But it’s clear in this context that The Casket Lottery, who shaped midwestern emo’s transition into post-hardcore two decades ago, has improved with age. "We are still too loud and angry,” Ellis concludes, “but we have figured out how to play our instruments and craft a song a little tighter. The personal perspective of the lyric writer has matured, but the same energy, and the same motivation exists.”