Sound — 5
Like Moths To Flames was Chris Roetter's charmed third time to find a band he could call home, after his status as the original vocalist for Emarosa was cut short, and his post-hardcore band Agraceful broke up after releasing just one album. And with the band signing to Rise Records after only releasing one single, charmed it indeed was. With their debut album "When We Don't Exist" covering all the standard bases of metalcore in a run-of-the-mill fashion (chock full of chug riffs, singalong choruses, and death chord breakdowns with "fuck you" chants), their 2013 follow-up album, "An Eye For an Eye," showed some growth in their melodic side, with better choruses and more impressive lead guitar riffs.
With Roetter divulging that the band's songwriting power coming from founding guitarist Zach Huston and lead guitarist Eli Ford, Huston's departure last year would naturally incite unease with Like Moths To Flames and their listeners. In the wake of that news, Roetter spoke in an interview about welcoming change in whatever form (as opposed to comfortable stagnancy) and how he was looking forward to the next batch of music the band were preparing to write. That next batch of music brought forth in their third album, "The Dying Things We Live For," however, doesn't quite show the change Roetter raved about appealing to.
Most noticeably on the music side of things, "The Dying Things We Live For" cuts down on the melodic aspect that shined bright in "An Eye for an Eye." Aside from the commanding strumming riff in the chorus of "The Give and Take," lead guitar melodies that used to soar above the plodding chug rhythms are now either buried in the mix (see the faint offerings in the choruses of "No King," "Thrown to the Wind" and "Fighting Fire With Fire") or reduced to feeble tonal texture roles (heard in "Never Repent," "Destined for Dirt" and "Wither").
Like Moths To Flames use this reduction to focus more on the meatier metalcore riffs, which show some good activity in the uptempo "The Art of Losing" and "The Give and Take," but that duly renders the rest of the album's low-fret riffs to pale in comparison - worse off, one of the verse riffs in "Fighting Fire With Fire" sounds near identical to the ending riff in "Wasted Days." And with breakdowns also have the tendency to overlap in identity (especially the tuplet bursts in the breakdowns of "Thrown to the Wind," "Never Repent" and "History Repeats"), as well as harsh vocals layering to group growling at the ends of verses in nearly every song, the sound of "The Dying Things We Live For" renders itself uncannily tedious.
Lyrics — 5
Similarly to the one-sided sound of "The Dying Things We Live For," Roetter's lyrics in the album also come off sounding flat and narrow in expression. With a consistent harping on the theme of terminality, Roetter states and restates his nihilistic thesis in nearly every song, from his bitter spitting against the sick cycle of modern society in "Fighting Fire With Fire" ("I refuse to sell my soul for a place to die") and his scornful takedown of religious faith in "Never Repent" ("Just know that there will be no song of grace to lead you in / No holy water that will rid you of your sins"), to downright wishing for annihilation in "Thrown To The Wind" ("I'm counting down until the day that the sun swallows the world whole / And all of Hell follows").
Not only do Roetter's lyrics of misery overlap on expression within the album (like the line "It's hard to play this game that you never win" in "History Repeats" using the same structure as "Hard to love with a heart that's already dead" in "Destined for Dirt"), but they overlap with lyrics in the previous "An Eye For an Eye" - the line "Will there ever be a life worth all this pain?" in "History Repeats" is synonymous with the line "Is this life worth the sacrifices made along the way?" in "A Feast for Crows," and the line "We all breathe our last breath alone" in "Never Repent" is basically the same line as "We all die alone when we breathe our last breath" in "My Own Personal Hell."
Overall Impression — 4
Roetter may have stated that 2015 was going to be a big change for Like Moths To Flames, but "The Dying Things We Live For" conflicts with that claim severely. With the album's continuance of milking comfortable metalcore songwriting tropes and slimming down on melodic elements to counterweight the metalcore moments, the album's sound ends up being very one-dimensional, and with the lyrical style also being as stagnant of an aspect, the business-as-usual status of "The Dying Things We Live For" makes it the least compelling album in Like Moths To Flames' catalog.