Dying Wish is a band that truly embodies the sentiment of ‘they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.’ There is just something about the Portland, Oregon band that scratches that mid-2000s itch that not many bands of the modern scene truly come anywhere close to. Making a name for themselves with a unique blend of Bullet For My Valentine-style riffage and Disembodied-esque breakdowns, Dying Wish broke out onto the Metalcore scene with their magnificently riffy 2021 debut LP, Fragments Of A Bitter Memory.
While that record was certainly good in its own right, there was always something about it that screamed “this band is good, but they can do even better,” and I’m very pleased to say that hunch was absolutely correct; 2023 sophomore LP Symptoms Of Survival improves upon its predecessor on just about every front.
Alright, let’s get the unpleasant part out of the way—the album’s opening titular track isn’t nearly as great as the monstrous throwdown that Cowards Feed, Cowards Bleed was. Yes, I’m aware that I just said that this album is an improvement upon the debut, we will get there. This cut opens with a kickass riff, but doesn’t seem to get any more interesting from there. While the rest of the album certainly makes up for this rather lacking entrance, I do find myself a bit disappointed by this opening track. However, no sooner had I been let down by the titular track was I immediately picked up by the intense grooves and soaring melodies of Watch My Promise Die, a surprisingly dynamic cut that paves the way for what is an incredible record. Path To Your Grave follows suit, moving at a breakneck pace between blazing fast metalcore riffage and captivating, open singing sections.
At the end of the day, it’s all personal preference, but I do tend to believe that Dying Wish is at their best when they’re showing off their melodic chops. Torn From Your Silhouette is easily one of the band’s best songs, showcasing brilliantly catchy vocal runs and finger twisting guitar licks. Im sure this particular track was an easy pick for the first single from the record, with its perfectly air-tight songwriting indicating how much of a step up this next record would be in comparison to their last.
Paved In Sorrow is perhaps the best example of perfected melody from Dying Wish, being the standout ballad of Symptoms Of Survival. I’ve made the Bullet For My Valentine comparison once already in this review, but god damn if this song doesn’t sound like something straight off of The Poison or Scream Aim Fire, in an excellent way, of course. I mean, that opening clean riff straight up sounds like the riff from Bittersweet Memories (not on either of the two albums I just mentioned, I know). The song opens with soft swells and reverb-y plucks, all crescendoing into an explosive, chorus-heavy back half that will leave you breathless. Definitely one of the highlight tracks from Symptoms Of Survival.
However, this album isn’t all just clean sung choruses and melodic, nostalgia-fuel riffs. If there’s one thing that the singles thus far have failed to indicate, it’s that the majority of this album is fucking heavy as shit. Particularly, Starved, Prey For Me, Tongues Of Lead, Kiss Of Judas, and Hell’s Final Blessing are all fire and brimstone, trading clean-sung choruses for a pure, surging rage.
Tongues Of Lead is an immediate standout, with its pounding double bass grooves and slicing, vicious chugs and riffs. The song barely breaks the two minute mark, but manages to pack three songs’ worth of action into one tight package. Kiss Of Judas is another highlight, being a fast paced, aggressive cut that only slows in tempo during the gargantuan, earth-shattering breakdown at the songs midpoint. Seriously, that thing is in contention for a top breakdown of 2023.
The album concludes with what is perhaps the best Dying Wish song ever written, and one of the best singles of the year in the absolutely exquisite Lost In The Fall. The first half of the song features a back and forth of ripping riffage, booming breakdowns, and massive choruses, all before transitioning into a cathartic, tearjerking finale. The structure and songwriting present here is perfect to the T, leaving not a single second of filler space. It’s a truly perfect song, in every sense of the word.
While Symptoms Of Survival might not be a perfect album, it shines as an example of Dying Wish further improving their formula of songwriting. The album stands head-and-shoulders above 2021’s Fragments Of A Bitter Memory, which was already a great album in itself. Slowly becoming one of the bigger names in the metalcore scene, Dying Wish will certainly further cement their position in the metalcore hierarchy with the release of Symptoms Of Survival, and for good reason; this album is fucking good. However, I truly believe that in a few years time, we could see this band put out something even bigger and better, and I can’t wait for that day.
For fans of: Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive
‘Symptoms Of Survival’ by Dying Wish is released on 3rd November on Sharptone Records.
Words by Hunter Hewgley