Sound — 6
Have you heard of this thing called metalcore? Some of it's pretty good. It's got all the great melodic riffs from metal music, the production's really heavy and... well... it doesn't have much to do with hardcore punk these days but that's where the name came from. Sounds exciting, right? Well, the best thing about it is that there are so many bands doing it at the moment. If you get bored of one, you can just move on to another and keep on headbanging. You'll come across Like Moths To Flames 10 or 20 bands into the cycle; they only started a few years ago in Ohio but their new album "An Eye for an Eye" comes out of the blocks with the confidence of a band who's been doing it for a long time.
They like to do it with a fair amount of dissonance. Slow riffs crunch in tritones and half-steps, guided by bass drum patterns which change speed every few seconds to keep listeners guessing. Creepy clean guitar overdubs on "Deathmarks" and "The Blackout" strike an uneasy chord which, besides making the whole thing a little heavier, prepare the listener for the changes which come with the choruses: overegged drama, Americanised emotion and lots and lots of vocal harmonies. You'll get an adrenaline rush when the moodiness is stripped away.
One of the other things you tend to find in modern metalcore not everybody's into them is breakdowns. This is where the band all lurch together into a single groove on a low, heavy note, stripping the music of anything which doesn't feed into that rhythm. Like Moths To Flames did this a lot on their first album, "When We Don't Exist," and I think they've used some of those ones again here. It's hard to tell. "Into the Ground" and "A Feast for Crows" have traces of djent, another type of groove-based metal, using its signature guitar sound to make the low chugs bounce. Eli Ford and Zach Huston tune down to Bb, so it's just as well not every breakdown has the same production or else you'd want to rip your stomach out.
If it's originality you're after, then there is a degree of it here. Seasoned metalcore fans tend not to be too impressed by breakdowns anymore, but between the ominous backdrop and Will Putney's punishing mixing job the five-piece forge something of an individual sound. "Serpent Herders" and ethereal closer "My Own Personal Hell" are standout tracks, setting the scene with bespoke atmospherics and making the inevitable descent into brutal, gruelling dissonance all the more satisfying.
Lyrics — 7
Vocalist Chris Roetter invests great deals of anger into this band. Every other word drips with hate. The difficulty is that it's only passed onto the listener half of the time; anti-Christianity's not for everyone but you can at least go along with "Nothing But Blood" ("I've bled myself enough for you/the holy one") but there are some moments which are oddly less appealing ("what I really need is for you to go f--k yourself"). Besides the half-baked pop-rock of "In Dreams" (no, really), Roetter screams with honesty and desperation, which always gives metal and hardcore bands an edge regardless of whether you can relate to their lyrics.
Overall Impression — 6
If you haven't been scared off yet then I suggest you listen to a couple of tracks at the bottom of this review. If you're in the right state of mind and you're the right age then this album is more than capable of taking you on a ride. It's very powerful if you let it have its way. Either way, I hope you enjoyed your adventure into the world of modern metalcore! Like Moths To Flames do it quite well, I hope you agree, but they struggle to do anything really spectacular and that kind of sums up where the genre is at these days. Now, do you want to listen to something else?