Like Moths To Flames – Dark Divine
Release Date: November 3rd, 2017
Usually, when a hard or heavy band softens their sound it’s a polarizing move that can lead to accusations of trying to be more radio friendly, or the ultimate insult, “selling out”. Other times, however, it can be motivated by a band recognizing their own strengths and weakness and choosing to drop what they’re bad at to focus on the good. This was the case with Bring Me The Horizon, a deathcore band who shifted into hard rock, and it was all for the better. We can now add Like Moths To Flames to that list as well.
The bands earlier work treaded the line somewhere between hardcore and metalcore, but like a lot of acts in this genre, it was kind of generic. The bands singer, Chris Roetter, isn’t the greatest screamer in the world. He pretty much utilizes a middle range yell that lacks the diversity of higher shrieks or lower growls. Without much variety, its easy for the screams to get tiresome. That said, his good clean vocals are pretty good, with a nice tone and register that sounds a little more punk than metal.
While I was familiar with Like Moths To Flames before this album they weren’t really a band I was all that into, mostly for the reasons mentioned above. But when the band started releasing promotional singles that revealed a new softer sound that played to the bands strengths I took attention and was eager to give the full album a listen.
The opener, “New Plagues“, is a nice way to kick things off, with melodically metal guitars backing the verses and a nice catchy chorus. The lead single “Nowhere Left to Sink” is actually one of the weaker tracks in my opinion. I do like the opening riff, and it’s perfectly listenable, but a little too simple and doesn’t really stick with you.
Even though the music is softer that doesn’t mean the music is any less hard-hitting. Many of the calmer moments with melodic vocals manage to carry a more moody or somber melody, especially during the verses, allowing it to retain a dark feel. This is first heard in “Shallow Truths for Shallow Minds”, one of the first heavier tracks on the disc, and many others, including “Empty the Same”.
I tried to talk to God and he just gave me a rope.
A few of the tracks did stand out to me as being better and more worth repeated listens than others. The title track “Dark Divine” (listen here), and the single “From the Dust Returned” (listen here) are some of the best songs on the album. They both have big booming chorus that will rock out arenas. Dark Divine has an interesting lyric about trying to talk to God and being given a rope, which could be interpreted as being used to climb out of ones hell, or to hang oneself.
My personal favorite, and the one track you should definitely take the time to check out is “Even God Has a Hell” (listen here). It showcases all the best things the band is trying to do with this album in one song, with depressive verses (“prayed for light and I was only given dark”), nicely harmonized pre-chorus, an emotional hook with a great melody.
“Mischief Managed” and “Instinctive Intuition” are where things to start to seem like they were running out of ideas. They’re ok, but basically, retread sounds already heard on earlier tracks.
My main criticisms would be that while almost all of these tunes are solid, some even great, none of them really stand out to me as amazing songs that keep getting better and better. The songs are mostly good and stay good on multiple listens, but never really move beyond that (other than the 3 standouts I mentioned). I also found that even though the reduction of the screams was helpful, during some of the longer stints with unclean vocals I did find myself wishing the vocalist had more diversity. Even just some differing emotion, or dropping lower in tone would have helped to break the monotony.
I’m losing faith in faith again.
The lowest point of the album for me would have to be the last two tracks, “The Skeletons I Keep“, and “False Idol“, which seems like an attempt to serve up some songs in the older style found on their previous records. It’s a weird way to go out when the rest of the album breaks new ground for the group and is a marked improvement over their old stuff.
Overall, this is a record you can put on and find yourself liking a lot of what it has to offer in terms of instrumentation, vocals, and lyrics. There may even be a handful of tunes you find yourself coming back to. But I think that outside of making their sound more palatable there’s a lack of creativity in the songwriting that makes things a little too formulaic, and ultimately this effects the albums staying power. Worth picking it, but I don’t think it’ll go down as a classic of the genre.