In 2021, I stumbled across the single “Cowards Feed, Cowards Bleed” from the debut full-length Fragments of a Bitter Memory by Dying Wish. This band was brash, unapologetically heavy, and wore their influences on their sleeve with no shame or reservation. There was something novel and special about that album, and much of it stemmed from the fact that nobody told them it was 2006 anymore. It wasn’t a “throwback” record, but Dying Wish had perfected a sound that lost a lot of steam in the lexicon of mainstream metal – heavy, early 2000s metalcore – with the utmost sincerity. Fragments remains one of the best records of 2021.

Since April 2023, Dying Wish has been releasing a steady stream of singles from their sophomore full-length, Symptoms of Survival. The formula from Fragments is mostly intact, emphasizing the groove element, and even more focused songs and varied arrangements, and breakdowns that flirt with filthier dissonant chord voicings. Most songs feature a main melodeath-esque riff coupled with a breakdown passage or three. Vocalist Emma Boster keeps the clean vocals to a minimum, and guitarists Sam Reynolds and Pedro Carrillo seem to be going through a serious Heaven Shall Burn-phase on a songwriting level.

At the center of this very short album is “Path to Your Grave,” the best summation of their sound and mission statement. Razor-sharp riffing, constantly shifting groove, big harmonized tremolo picking, clean and dirty vocals, and, of course, gnarly breakdowns. These aren’t modern djent-style breakdowns; they’re not overly concerned with writing the most rhythmically complex pieces – the focus is squarely on the groove, and they’d rather see the bodies fly in the pit than watch the music theory nerds try to count out an unusual time signature. Oddly, the song does seem to divide the album sonically – the latter half of this album emphasizes more melodic elements.

Immediately following that high point is an experimental track for the band, “Paved in Sorrow” – a ballad that owes as much to the modern influence of Spiritbox as it does to early Bullet for My Valentine. Song placement here is critical; it perfectly winds down “Path to Your Grave,” and I hope the tracks are kept together in a live setting. This probably felt like a huge risk to the band, but as a listener, it doesn’t sound out of place at all. Of course, they immediately backpedal with “Tongues of Lead” and “Kiss of Judas,” two of the heaviest (and best) songs on the record.

“Torn From Your Silhouette” already feels like an old friend, having been out since April 2023. The rollout for this album has been very long, considering it has a November release date, but such is distribution in the age of streaming. That being said, this was an incredibly wise choice for a first single. It’s the crown jewel of the record – the riffs hook you in, the breakdowns groove, and the big singalong clean vocals are about as close to timeless as it comes for a sound so rooted in early 2000s metalcore. The album closes with “Lost in the Fall,” the latter half of the song experimenting with more melodic and clean elements – perhaps an indicative of the band’s future direction. 

Ultimately, Symptoms of Survival surpasses its predecessor without compromising on their core sound. This deserves a space in your collection next to Bleeding Through, and Heaven Shall Burn. Perhaps they’re just young and hungry, but this record outclasses so many modern releases by the very bands and movements that inspired them. 


Dying Wish, Symptoms of Survival, is available now (3rd) via Sharptone Records.