Artist: Left to Suffer
Album: And Dying Forever (EP)
Have you ever seen those follow-up exposés on child stars—you know the where are they now? type bits? They usually only end one of two ways—they either end up snorting coke off of a prosthetic limb behind a dumpster (which, hey, if that’s your thing, more power to you) or someone who did…well, alright, even maybe “normal,” as far as the circumstances go. If you apply the same to up and coming bands, you can start to discern the same pattern. I can’t even keep track of the number of bands I’ve discovered from a promising debut album or EP only for them to totally vanish—or worse, turn butt-rock. After a series of remarkable EPs, Left to Suffer return with And Dying Forever, a release which begs the same question: with a rapid rise to relative fame, how will the band fare? While this is a topic that will unravel over the next several paragraphs, here’s one spoiler—they definitely didn’t turn into “adult alternative” or whatever other catch-all is increasingly popular among the aging metalcore crowd. Instead, the band act to expand and refine their blend of nu-metalcore and deathcore on And Dying Forever, putting forth a demonstration of refined aggression that balances deft, devastating breakdowns with melancholic, moody and even pop-friendly sensitivities to create something that very much feels like an expansion of their critically acclaimed On Death.
And Dying Forever does a lot of things right, but isn’t without its own shortcomings, and ultimately, both of these draw from the notion that the EP serves as a relative companion piece to the 2021 EP On Death. And Dying Forever captures much of the hectic, intense energy abundant within Left to Suffer’s previous release and channels it, making it feel less primal and more focused and precise. The result are songs like “Whisper,” which pummels at the listener with a cannon-like kick-drum and breakdowns that toggle between dissonant chugs and fierce scratching (a la Yüth Forever, a cult classic). Other songs—like “Overwhelming Power” see the band continue to capitalize on their most aggressive tendencies with frontman Taylor Barber’s grisly mid-range yells smoothly transitioning into monstrous bellows and sharp, ear-splitting shrieks. However, And Dying Forever isn’t without its more melodic aspects as well, best heard on the record’s introductory track “Rest Your Head,” and sprinkled throughout the concluding number “Fatal Attraction.” While these moments might be contentious in some respects, they do an excellent job of adding more depth to the EP, adding in some breaks between blistering breakdowns, provided largely by serene—if not somewhat chilling—cleanly sung passages. “Fatal Attraction” does an exceptional job of this, not so much utilizing a scream/sing dynamic as it does more melodic and melancholic fretwork to space out the band’s more sinister backbone. Left to Suffer blend the more radio-friendly elements of nu metal and alternative in alongside their otherwise punishing styles of metalcore and deathcore to create something diverse and engaging, although, is not without its pitfalls.
As I alluded to earlier, the biggest pluses and minuses regarding And Dying Forever come from its similarities to its predecessor; in many ways on And Dying Forever, while registering as a continuation of On Death, feels moreso like a collection of B-Sides from its predecessor than it does the next logical step in progression there from. While songs like “Overwhelming Power” and “Whisper” are some of Left to Suffer’s finest, others—like the introductory track “Rest Your Head”—feel like an idea that was only barely finished and fleshed out before recording, with little of the same impact and replay value as many of the band’s other cuts. In a different vein, “Fixated”—while insanely catchy—is also somewhat grating, or, at least the chorus is. While the verses reflect a majestic infusion of nu-metal into the band’s burly metallic backbone, the chorus is a sing-song chant which, again, is about as catchy as herpes, but similarly irritating. Despite these little hiccups, the overarching detractor from And Dying Forever simply comes from the fact that it feels as though Left to Suffer were simultaneously trying to refine and expand their sound at the same time, and the result is a band in the throes of dysphoria. Much of the band’s more overt deathcore styling is abandoned in favor of Metalcore’s heavier end—which is fine, welcome even—but when paired against electronic and trap influences on “Fixated,” the blurry and messy “Rest Your Head” and “Fatal Attraction,” which despite being a solid song seems to borrow rather aggressively from various lyrical and instrumental elements heard from the band’s peers, the result is a record that doesn’t really have an identity of its own; a stark contrast from On Death.
And Dying Forever is a good record—I know it seems like I just tore it to bits a little—but as a standalone EP and within the context of Left to Suffer’s discography, it is well above average. Several songs—“Whisper,” “Overwhelming Power” and “Fatal Attraction” are grade-A cuts of Left to Suffer’s standard-issue meat, which are bound to become some of the band’s most played and adored songs. With that said, it isn’t without its downsides—downsides that really stem from the EP ultimately not being anywhere near as cohesive, focused or unique as On Death or A Year of Suffering, and as a consequence, feeling a little…lost. Rumor has it the band are already hard at work with their next offering, and given the immense promise packed into their first two releases, one can only hope their next won’t take the forever in And Dying Forever too literally.
For Fans Of: VCTMS, Bodysnatcher, Extortionist, Alpha Wolf
By: Connor Welsh