Set up a scenario in your head where either your boss at your job, your “friend,” or someone else of moderate importance has wronged you. Now put together a soundtrack of cataclysmic anger to vent to. My friends, and fellow consumers, behold: Like Moths to Flames‘ first LP, titled When We Don’t Exist, is the rage fest you’re looking for to fit the destructive mood.
This record hardly gives way to slow down, because each track escalates further and further, cramming technicality and meatiness into breakdown after breakdown. If you’re familiar with bands of this nature (Oh, Sleeper/Betraying the Martyrs/Our Last Night), then you know what to expect. Now, because this genre is so black and white at times, this type of music is either done well or done badly. You can breathe a sigh of relief LMTF came out on the better side with this freshman full-length.
Starting with some surprisingly well-chosen orchestrated strings/programming, the album explodes with opener “The Worst In Me.” From the get-go, you know what you’re in for. When the chaos ensues, the assault it was intended to create rises to mountainous proportions. It is full of bass, technically exasperating drumming courtesy of Lance Greenfield, and Chris Roetter’s shredding calls for help mixed with near pitch-perfect cleans. The melody in this song sets the tone for the record; it’s dark, vicious, and reeking of empathy and aggression. “GNF” continues the trend, with a monster of a “fuck you” track. I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing Danny Leal from Upon a Burning Body come out of the woodwork with an intense “I don’t give a fuck/about the way you’re feeling!” Guest vocals are always nice, especially when they are done correctly.
Third track “No Hope” is just as rigid as the previous two songs, trading blow for blow with the furious breakdowns that layer its formula. Unfortunately, like a few of the songs on the record, it just doesn’t stand out. “You Won’t Be Missed” contains one of the stronger clean vocal choruses, almost worthy of Roetter’s old band Emarosa. “Faithless Living” is one of the strongest songs altogether, constructed with passionate vocals throughout, and a tastefully done breakdown near the end. If you’re a fan of their Sweet Talker EP, you’ll be excited to know that “Real Talk” and “Your Existence” made it on here as well. How did they fare? Well, they’re about the same, except with tightened arrangements and more promising vocal work.
Heading towards the second half of the album, there is no stopping this train once it has gotten this far. “Trophy Child” boasts some of the heaviest moments altogether, but that is debatable because all metalheads have different tastes when it comes to what they consider “heavy.” It all culminates into a tumultuous two-and-a-half minutes of urgency. “My Own Grave” is a song of panic and angst; the vibe that holds its harness is astoundingly dark. This record does have deeper intentions than it first exudes, but you have to let it grow on you for it do so. “Something to Live For” and “Praise Feeder” go out with a blitzkrieg of sound and decay, but there is something oddly reassuring about reaching the closing passages of the album. You know what that is? The fact that there is no slow burner/acoustic track to divide the speed and mood. That is something we’ve come to expect from most metalcore bands, and that result is strangely gratifying.
For a band so young, they’ve taken the craft of relentless chaos to the standard the industry has been calling for so desperately over the past few years. So what should the next step for this five-piece from Ohio be musically? Variety, sparseness, and the art of surprise. This album is solid and they’ve got the chops, but if they want to have a chance at being more than subtle mediocrity, they will have to take the next step.