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I’ll be straight with y’all. As much as I adore Like Moths To Flames, their material over the last few years has been spotty at best. The first hint of stagnancy from the Ohio four-piece came in the form of 2015’s decent but rather flat ‘The Dying Things We Live For,’ which didn’t compare to their first two monstrous outings. Then came ‘Dark Divine’ in 2017, which although being a well-written and enjoyable album, was ruined by a clunky mess of a mix. 2019’s three-track EP ‘Where The Light Refuses To Go’ followed a similar trend, but felt watered down in the songwriting. A short story made even shorter, the band has had a rocky half-decade or so, with diamond fragments peaking through the soil every so often. All things ebb and flow; sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. Fortunately, it seems like Like Moths To Flames’ train of inconsistency is finally coming to a crushing halt at a new station with 2020’s full length LP, ‘No Eternity In Gold,’ seeing the group coming out on top.
By no means am I saying that this latest record is perfect or even the ideal Like Moths To Flames record; it certainly has the odd flaw. For one, nearly every single fan by now has noticed how quiet vocalist Chris Roetter is in the mix. For any other band, this wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but let me offer a big fat stinking hot take that might help this critique make more sense: Chris Roetter is one of the best metalcore vocalists around. Roetter is one of the few vocalists who seamlessly captures so many ranges of human emotion – from pure, unfiltered rage, to unadulterated pain and sadness – whilst maintaining a recognizable voice. It’s emotion and technique all in one. Roetter is the core ace up this band’s sleeve, and to hear his voice be somewhat muzzled in any shape or form is a mark on what is otherwise a fantastic contemporary metalcore record. But enough of that, let’s talk some positives, because there’s no shortage when it comes to ‘No Eternity In Gold.’
This LP seamlessly funnels all of Like Moths To Flames’ past sounds into one cohesive unit, while adding in touches of freshness and hitting new territory at certain nodes. Every fan of Like Moths To Flames, past and present, will likely find something to love about this record. The eerie noodling leads, haunting arpeggios, and crushing metalcore chugs of opener ‘The Anatomy of Evil’ automatically brings me back to 2013’s classic ‘An Eye For An Eye,’ featuring devastating, old-school “risecore” open-ote breakdowns throughout. It’s also glossed up with what is the band’s heaviest, stickiest intro guitar riff in years, serving as the perfect introduction to a kickass album.
The breakneck riffage of ‘Fluorescent White’ feels like something right off of ‘The Dying Things We Live For,’ albeit leagues better in quality and carrying an underlying tone of sadness and a depressive tone. This track in particular is one of the group’s finest in recent memory, with an excellent, instantly memorable vocal performance from Roetter, and just the right amount of groove and nuance from Isaiah Perez of Phinehas, who tracked drums for the record, adding to its robust rhythmic backbone.
Elsewhere, ‘Burn In Water, Drown In Flame’ will likely go down as one of the metalcore genres’ favorite songs of the year, with its ridiculously over-the-top heavy chugs and riffs, and brutal breakdown sections. The real highlight, though, is that anthemic and absurdly catchy chorus. ‘Killing What’s Underneath’ is likely to be the sleeper hit of the record, following a more post hardcore-ish sound that feels like its straight off of the band’s last record. Featuring yet another massive chorus, as well as a surprisingly heavy breakdown to aid the song’s riffier nature, there’s no doubt that this track will score some loving talk among the group’s die-hards.
This isn’t to say that every single song present works out in the band’s favor. As there are a couple of duds that just don’t hit quite as hard as expected. ‘A Servant Of Plague’ features some unique guitar work for Moth’s usual play style, as well as an interesting, toned-down chorus, but fails to leave any sort of noticeable mark on me, personally. It’s the first song on the record’s track list that doesn’t have any sort of head-turning moment that fully catches my interest. Immediately following this, there’s the softer, shimmering, reverb-filled ballad that is ‘Demon Of My Own.’ It certainly does its job at diversifying the album sonically, but falls victim to the same problems as its predecessor; it simply doesn’t have anything within it’s run that keeps me coming back for more on repeat listens. Doomed to the skip button, it seems.
These moments on ‘No Eternity In Gold’ just feel like filler, like eventual B-sides, rather than cuts that should’ve made it onto the final album. That being said, they do accomplish the role of being more experimental tracks for Like Moths To Flames. The silver lining being that such ideas could be further continued, explored (and perhaps nailed better) on future releases.
‘No Eternity In Gold’ is, without a doubt, the comeback album that I’ve been personally expecting from Like Moths To Flames. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s the band’s second best record overall, sitting just behind ‘An Eye For An Eye.’ If you like your breakdowns heavy, your choruses huge, and your vocals powerful (screaming and singing alike), this is the metalcore album you should be listening to. Everything from the brute staccato chugs of ‘Habitual Decline,’ to the heart-stopping, 808-filled madness that is the breakdown finale in ‘Spiritual Eclipse’ is fantastic, even if the album does have the occasional small stumble. Like Moths To Flames have positioned themselves back on the path of success and memorability, crafting a release that laughs in the faces of their many lacking core peers. There might be “no eternity in gold,” but there just might be an eternity in this kind of tightly-wound, well-rounded modern metalcore.
The Anatomy of Evil
Burn In Water, Drown In Flame
Killing What’s Underneath
A Servant Of Plague
Demon Of My Own
‘No Eternity In Gold’ is out Friday, October 30th: