Dying Wish – Symptoms of Survival (SharpTone Records)Friday, 27th October 2023
Not quite the dirty word it used to be a decade ago, metalcore has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence over the last few years. In addition to some of the stalwarts of the genre standing strong, younger bands have taken up the flag and have been raising it high – serving as a reminder of the genre’s ‘glory days’ in the early/mid 2000s while dressing it up with some modern trappings. One of these bands to watch has been Oregon’s Dying Wish, who all but exploded onto the scene with their debut full-length Fragments of a Bitter Memory in 2021. Taking on that more European-centered melodic death metal slant on guitar melodies, they ran with it and merged it with some absolutely brutal breakdowns and hardcore ethos. It showcased a band that was hungry and oozing with potential. That said, their follow-up Symptoms of Survival not only delivers on that potential, it positions Dying Wish as one of the most breathtaking bands in modern metal.
Some high praise for an introductory paragraph, but a few listens to Symptoms of Survival and you can see where that enthusiasm stems from. Dying Wish capitalize on their ability to absolutely punish the listener with earth-shattering breakdowns and raw aggression, and add to it a greater color palette for the band to work off of. Two-to-four minute songs act as energetic bursts, filled not just with rage but some sorrow and remorse as well. The title track starts things off on the heavier end of the spectrum, featuring some buzzing chugs while incorporating some bits of chilling melodies at times. It acts as a great warm-up and stage-setter before early single “Watch My Promise Die” really rumbles the speakers as it’s thrashy tempo increases into breakneck mode, only for the band to stop on a dime and incorporate a melodic break led by vocalist Emma Boster that spirals back into a menacing breakdown. “Starved” then hits that sweet spot of melodeath-infused hardcore that Unearth and Darkest Hour championed, hitting the pause button only momentarily for a brief melodic moment before it dives back into some venomous chugging.
The one-two punch of “Path to Your Grave” and “Paved in Sorrow” serves as the high-water mark for the emotive side of the band to come out. The former kicking and screaming in fury (with even some blasting in effect), but offers a bit of a dreamy Killswitch Engage-esque chorus that all but soars into your head, offering a brilliant contrast from the venom surrounding it. “Paved in Sorrow” acts as a genuine ballad to follow, a vulnerable track that allows Boster to really take the lead with poignant lyrics atop a gentle, slowburn of instrumentation that builds around her. It’s a beautiful track full of sorrow and regrets, and that authenticity keeps it from feeling like an oddball on the album. It’s back to chaos thereafter, with “Kiss of Judas” being one of the album’s finest points in terms of sheer ferocity. Galloping, urgent riffs lead the way over Boster’s shouts, sneakily adding some melody along the way, building up to one of the most violent and memorable breakdowns on the release. That caustic streak continues for much of the second half of the album, but the final two cuts inject some standout melodies to give the ramaging energy something to bounce off of – “Torn from Your Silhouette” showcases exactly the sort of duality of melody and scathing aggression that the band has mastered. The closing cut, “Lost in the Fall” ends it on a menacing yet somber note as the melodic moments employ a dreary feeling that let’s you sit with it at the end.
Dying Wish showcase a brilliant evolution in their sound, which makes them all the more potent yet refined. Symptoms of Survival may give you some nostalgia for the pummeling metalcore days of old, but it isn’t content to linger there. Offering a spread of emotions jumping past rage and anger and into self-introspection and regret, there’s a more modern feel here as the band moves between visceral, kinetic energy and more heartfelt feelings that other acts in this space simply can’t replicate. Come for the beatdown, but stay for the genuine displays of raw emotion.