For as much derision as it gets, metalcore as a genre is pretty solid at systematically determining which of its acts get the most success. Typically the best acts find themselves thriving, and while lesser ones might enjoy brief spurts of favour, they’re often quick to die off. Of course there are exceptions (Memphis May Fire immediately spring to mind), but few metalcore bands have showed a tenacity to break this rule like Like Moths To Flames. They’re not the best band in the world by a long shot, but to see them peddling their safe, unremarkable metalcore like they are is certainly admirable to see.
The problem is that they are safe and unremarkable though, and on Dark Divine, you would hope that something has clicked after four albums to tell them that they drastically need to step up their game. But alas, Dark Divine offers very little to work with, an album with no really drastic low points but an equal amount of highs, and the sort of flatlining listen that can’t even spark any sort of passionate reaction even while it’s playing. For argument’s sake, it’s not the worst metalcore album ever, but that’s counteracted by the sinking feeling that Like Moths To Flames aren’t even trying to push themselves creatively.
It’s not even as if Dark Divine is totally incapable of working; when Chris Roetter sticks to his admittedly impressive clean pipes, Like Moths To Flames step into more melodically fertile territory that offers a much more agreeable counterpoint to the typical metalcore fare. Tracks like Nowhere Left To Sink and Empty The Same owe more to melodic post-hardcore with big, windswept instrumentals and a vocal performance driven by range and power, and by keeping in that lane, there’s at least room for Like Moths To Flames to advance. Again, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about these moments, and they remain handily leapfrogged by numerous acts who’ve pulled off this sound with more concise, anthemic gusto, but for an album like this, they at least offer something by way of quality to attach onto.
It’s certainly preferable over Like Moths To Flames’ typically dull metalcore, which not only feels deeply entrenched in an early 2010s branch that hasn’t exactly aged well overall, but they can’t even do much with it. As tempting as it is to dub Like Moths To Flames a diet Asking Alexandria (especially when Roetter sounds uncannily like Danny Worsnop), at least they have the balls-out attitude and swagger that comes from a known hard rock influence; Like Moths To Flames are so boxed into the metalcore bubble that it makes it all the easier to see where they stagnate. As well-constructed as the likes of From The Dust Returned and Mischief Managed undoubtedly are, they fall into such banal metalcore tropes of greyscale riffs and breakdowns, and fail to hold any sort of interest beyond a chorus that may or may not stick for a little while longer. It’s such a tired formula, not helped by a total over-reliance on it and it alone that rejects the cross-pollination with other styles that can at least give this sort of thing some extra colour and vibrancy.
But at the end of the day, it’s not as even this is much of a disappointment. Like Moths To Flames have never been much of a force to be reckoned with, and Dark Divine only serves to underline that fact. It’s metalcore of the most bland, unimpressive stripe that doesn’t even try to innovate or connect beyond a very surface level that may appeal to the most ardent of metalcore completionists, but no one else. Even if it’s not unsalvageable, Like Moths To Flames display such a willingness to evolve that it’s difficult to know what the purpose of this album even is. Just remember that for every band like this, there are so many better alternatives worth investing time into.
For fans of: Asking Alexandria, In Hearts Wake, Memphis May Fire
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Dark Divine’ by Like Moths To Flames is released on 3rd November on Rise Records.