When talking about an album created from true traumatic events, any criticism can be difficult to give. Not only is it difficult to get the full breadth of the artist’s creative process simply from being an outsider looking in, but often, complaints can be misconstrued as denigration towards the artist or the events, rather than merely being applicable to only the art.
That’s possibly the best prelude to discuss Tim Castle’s crippling depression and anxiety that made him afraid to leave the house for two years, and the inspiration behind A Promise To Forget’s debut Dying To Live, because this isn’t a great album, at least not in the way the emotional grip it has should make it. That’s nothing to do with the content or execution, mind; Castle mightn’t have the widest range in terms of vocals, but he can pull off heavy melancholy on a track like Veins, and any screams feel instinctive and natural rather than stylistic. It definitely helps for an album weighed down as heavily by its own writing as this is, whether that’s the loss of a loved one on Sylvia, or simply a breathless cry for help on Ravens And Writing Desks. Either way, A Promise To Forget keep their writing at the forefront of the album, and it really does stand out as a result.
It also has the knock-on effect of the actual music suffering as a result, in that the band struggle to find any kind of consistency among these ten tracks. Even when they do, it’s hardly thrilling, largely zoning in on a mix of wet alt-rock, post-hardcore imported directly from the mid-2000s and an approximation of metalcore that falls away from the most derivative form, but doesn’t provide much excitement. And while that’s not all bad – Power manages to hold its own in a Rise To Remain-esque way – Dying To Live doesn’t nearly feel as visceral as it could for its subject matter, even if gentle smatterings of piano and especially the strings on Veins make for some drama that works well. Overall, compared to albums in recently memory that have gone to similar depths, Dying To Live feels kind of toothless in its approach, having very few moments where the instrumentation and lyrics connect for a satisfying whole.
That’s not to say this is really a bad album, more a case of an album that needs further development to hit the peaks it’s capable of. A Promise To Forget feel like they’re playing it safe at the minute when they could really do more, and they would probably fare a lot better by doing so to. Even so, the weight, ambition and story that Dying To Live is trying to tell is commendable, especially in capturing it in such an honest light.
For fans of: Funeral For A Friend, Rise To Remain, Cytota
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Dying To Live’ by A Promise To Forget is released on 11th August.