Portland, Oregon outfit, Dying Wish, first came into public consciousness two years ago with the release of their 2021 debut, Fragments of a Bitter Memory. An angry metalcore quintet with a charismatic female vocalist, the group toured this year with Hatebreed, Counterparts and Kublai Khan and have a busy 2024 ahead, where they will be playing the Download Festival, supporting The Acacia Strain in Australia, and joining August Burns Red in Europe. Now is a great time to prepare for the next twelve months with album number two.
Dying Wish play the type of metalcore that aims for the throat rather than the heartstrings. Even the hardcore crowd can appreciate the vitriolic intensity of their music. Opener, ‘Symptoms of Survival’, is Slipknot meets Sick of it All with the shock and awe precision of Fear Factory. “Domination in my veins / Life must end for those I face / I have no mercy left for you,” screams vocalist, Emma Boster. Behind her, the guitarists chug their strings harder than a carpenter hammering a nail into a timbre frame. It reminds you that nu metal brought psychopathic aggression into the mainstream all those years ago. Dying Wish are not a nu metal revival band, but they appreciate the chromatic down-tuned riffing that made it such a unique genre.
The songs on this album seldom extend beyond three minutes. They don’t need to. Listen to the crunch of the down-picking riffs in ‘Watch My Promise Die’. The modulation to a faster melodeath assault at 01:05 leads into a surprise radio chorus of hesitant melody. The breakdown at 02:30 is like an unforgiving marshland waiting to ensnare humans foolish enough to wade through it. This is vengeful music. Emma Boster has more vitriol in her veins than a Palestinian exile living in Turkey. Drummer, Jeff Yambra, makes you work for the groove in ‘Starved’. ‘Prey for Me’ is one long series of syncopated guitars with occasional gallops of continuous rhythms. You’ll feel like you’re moving through an underground drainage system with a crouched posture during the breakdown.
How do you re-energise a tired genre? Maybe Dying Wish have the answer. ‘Path to your Grave’ is a highpoint of this record. “I could have let your faults kill me / But I found strength in spite / The hell that hides inside my mind no longer burns in fear of you,” roars Boster. The band second-guess you with a vicious burst of blast beats and then lead into a sorrowful rock chorus. Boster’s orthodox singing voice needs a little work to withstand the distorted guitars sizzling through the mix. It’s not quite powerful enough to deliver an anthem, but it aches with emotion. Likewise, ‘Paved in Sorrow’ drops the lethal aggression in favour of an abstract shoegaze approach. Here, Dying Wish sound like the extreme alternative rock of the English generation that emerged from Holy Roar Records in the 2010s, yet they manage to force their drop-tuned guitars into the chorus. Boster’s voice soars towards the end in a more fervent sorrow.
Dying Wish are at their most comfortable in a vicious hardcore groove, where they can raise their shoulders and sway them like a boxer waiting for the bell to announce the first round. Boster’s venomous hiss is reminiscent of Larissa Stupar (Venom Prison) in ‘Kiss of Judas’. ‘Tongues of Lead’ delves into Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven and reshapes it in the image of Knocked Loose. How sharp are those riffs? You can feel the boots of a stage-diver on the back of your neck as the jostling in the pit throws you forward.
Symptoms of Survival is an intriguing listen. Dying Wish know that gritty metalcore is what makes them tick, but they show signs of incorporating a melancholic side to their art. To realise this, they will need to work on their vocal lines. Boster’s clean voice is a work in progress on ‘Torn from your Silhouette’. It feels a bit flat when she tries to sing – not so when she growls and screams. The band are far more successful on closing track, ‘Lost in the Fall’, where they achieve the right equilibrium between aching heart sorrow and murderous aggression. Here, you can already see how the Dying Wish sound might evolve – it depends on the continuous self-discovery of their singer and her willingness to expand her voice.
Life on the road should solidify Dying Wish and tighten their resolve. They have an album to promote and new audiences to convert. Symptoms of Survival should see them do that with considerable ease.
Release Date: 03/11/2023
Record Label: SharpTone Records
Standout tracks: Symptoms off Survival, Path to Your Grave, Tongues of Lead
Suggested Further Listening: Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue (2019), Blood Youth – Visions of Another Hell (2021), Creak – Depth Perfection (2023)