ALBUM REVIEW: Dying Wish – Fragments of a Bitter Memory
Metalcore is, for the most part, a creatively moribund genre. As with all scenes, it’s not without its trailblazers and its cult diamonds in the rough, but ultimately it’s a form of music that’s swapped intensity for formulas, and sincerity for tropes.
Dying Wish are a metalcore band. But they’ve got no resemblance to the kinds of band that have just been mentioned. This is metalcore circa 2002: vital, visceral and venomous. A sound that’s pleasingly retro, without ever feeling dated. And it’s great.
It’s wonderful to hear a band tagged as metalcore sounding like this. When you listen to Fragments of a Bitter Memory, it sounds like a band in a room playing together and trying to destroy that room by doing so. This isn’t a group who are shackled to a metronome, pre-programmed synths, and MacBooks.
Also refreshingly, there are no djenting riffs or coloured rooms in sight when it comes to the band’s aesthetics. Though that’s slightly beside the point.
To be clear, Dying Wish don’t sound amazing because they standout from their peers. They standout from their peers because they are an excellent band. The song-writing evokes a bygone era of aggressive music, eschewing verse-chorus-verse structures for parts that wind and dive into each other. Each transition is as thrilling as the last. This is heavy music you feel as much as you listen to and not a single second of it outstays it’s welcome.
They do wear their influences pretty heavily on their sleeves. The start of Severing the Senses is more than a little close to This Is Absolution by Killswitch Engage, but it still feels more like a homage than simply ripping off. Obvious comparisons would be Killswitch‘s classic Alive Or Just Breathing and Poison The Well‘s Tear From The Red with just a dash of the frenetic, abrasive twists and turns of Converge around You Fail Me. They’re big names to throw out there, but these tracks are for the most part more than capable of holding up those comparisons.
This isn’t just a triumph for this style musically, Emma Boster’s lyrics are staggeringly intense. A true masterclass in catharsis, when combined with her excellent vocal performance across the entire record. It’s refreshing to hear a band from this scene channelling some sincere anger about the real injustices in the world, instead of the half-baked interpretations of Wikipedia articles about philosophical ideas that dominate a lot of this scene.
It’s a sign of the privilege of a lot of modern heavy music, that making musical accompaniments to ideas raised in The Matrix is seen as more inspiring than the battle for the liberation of the oppressed around the world. Having something to scream about makes those screams more impactful than any amount of layering and Pro-tools plugins ever will.
If there is a critique to be made, it is that the band’s commitment to their sonic signature is so consistent, occasionally you can get a tad lost as to where one track ends and where another begins. The end of Hollowed By Affliction and the start of Innate Thirst bear such a similarity that at first, it’s easy to mistake them as still being part of the same song. Though that feeling quickly passes, as Innate Thirst evolves into a totally different raging beast all of it’s own. How big an issue that is probably depends on how dedicated you are to Dying Wish‘s musical cause, but it is possible to see how some could get a bit worn out over the course of the entire record that is this intense. One person’s consistency is another’s lack of imagination.
Other people might also suggest the record only has two settings: breakneck pace or neck breakingly crushing. However, when you consider the goal is to break necks anyway, that doesn’t really stand up, does it? Just like how a staggeringly small number of Dying Wish‘s peers can stand up to this record.
Standout Tracks: Until Mourning Comes, Inate Thirst, Drowning InThe Silent Black, Cowards Feed, Cowards Bleed
For Fans Of: Poison The Well, Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour
Written by: Calum McMillan