We actively choose to survive. We don’t passively wait for it. Instead, we make the choices we need to in order to navigate life’s most treacherous terrain with our bodies, minds, and souls intact. Dying Wish both survey and soundtrack this struggle on their second full-length offering, Symptoms of Survival [Sharptone Records]. The Portland, OR quintet—Sam Reynolds [guitar], Pedro Carrillo [guitar], Emma Boster [vocals], Jeff Yambra [drums], and JonMackey [bass]—strike a balance between evocative melodies awash in pain and soundscapes born from a chaotic collision of heavy metal and hardcore. Amassing millions of streams, selling out shows, and earning widespread acclaim from Brooklyn Vegan, Revolver, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, and more, the group expand their vision thematically and sonically on these 11 tracks.
“As a title, Symptoms of Survival encapsulated the record, because we were trying to write about the human experience of failure and what you go through to get by,” notes Pedro. “It really summed up what we wanted to say.”
“We wrote from a broader perspective,” adds Emma. “We definitely wanted to be able to relate to anyone with this body of work.”
Dying Wish have continued to strengthen an unbreakable bond with audiences since emerging in 2018. Their full-length debut, Fragments of a Bitter Memory , yielded fan favorites such as “Cowards Feed, Cowards Bleed,” which amassed 2.1 million Spotify streams. Inciting widespread critical applause, KERRANG! rated the album “four-out-of-five stars” and raved, “Fragments of a Bitter Memory is an album you need in your life, with songs as catchy as they are human.” Plus, Revolver hailed it as “one of our favorite albums of the year.” Along the way, they toured with everyone from Motionless In White, Hatebreed, The Devil Wears Prada and Counterparts to Limp Bizkit, Terror and Kublai Khan.
Meanwhile, Dying Wish wrote and recorded what would become Symptoms of Survival with producer Randy LeBoeuf [The Acacia Strain, Kublai Khan]. After teasing this chapter with “Torn From Your Silhouette,” they heralded Symptoms of Survival with “Watch My Promise Die.” It deftly balances shudderingly heavy guitars and a pummeling groove with dynamic vocals, turning on a dime from piercing screams into a powerful hook.
“It deals with the fear of the public eye and the fear of failure,” Emma reveals. “I wrote it from the perspective that sometimes you just succumb to your weaknesses. I never considered giving up, but I wondered, ‘Can I seriously handle this?’ I was doubting and questioning myself. I love this band and these guys so much. So, that weakness affects not just me, but everyone else involved who leans on me. By giving up, I’d be hurting others in a sense.”
“There’s a level of duality,” Pedro elaborates. “When I was writing from my perspective, I saw how ‘living my dream’affected my family, relationships, and friends. The song was my promise to be a good friend, partner, sibling, and brother. You ty to keep the promise even though it’s dying.”
Powered up by a knifepoint precise thrash riff and throat-ripping growl, “Lost In The Fall” deals with “losing control and letting go, whether it’s a relationship, a career, or a place,” as it subsides into a pit-splitting breakdown and entrancing refrain. Coming full circle, “Path To Your Grave” doubles as a spiritual successor to “Fragments of a Bitter Memory.” A galloping charge crashes into a slow, trudging groove only for the momentum to pick back up again.
“I’d never really spoken about this experience as a kid until Dying Wish,” she states. “The first record was the moment for me to share my story. By telling the story, I was able to grow and move into a new level of feelings. ‘Path To Your Grave’ is basically written about the same experience, but a few years down the line. At the time, the situation had such a chokehold on me. Now, I feel like I’m the one who’s in control. I’m still angry, but I won’t let it bring me down.”
“Paved In Sorrow” represents the album’s emotional apex. Stitching together spacey guitar and a steady beat, an ethereal soundscape underlines a vulnerable and vital vocal performance from Emma as she somberly confesses, “I failed to protect you from the storm.”
“This is the ballad,” she continues. “We wanted to write from a loving place, but it’s essentially admitting guilt about potentially allowing someone else to be harmed. After my parents split, I didn’t speak about the trauma I endured with my stepfather—my sister’s father. As I got older, I felt partially responsible for her trauma, because I left her with him. It’s my epiphany. I’m trying to show I changed and recognized I wasn’t there to protect her before, but I am now.”
In the end, Dying Wish might just encourage you to keep going.
“We’ve found our sound,” Emma leaves off. “I hope you hear it and think, ‘I can’t wait to see what this band does next’. To me, Dying Wish is a little bit of a movement. We push boundaries. We write heavy songs, but we also write melodic and heartfelt songs. We care about our community so much. We hope you relate.”