REVIEW: Like Moths to Flames – The Cycles of Trying to Cope [2024]

Artist: Like Moths to Flames
Album: The Cycles of Trying to Cope

It isn’t terribly often that a band really seems to hit their stride closing in on two decades into their tenure—and sure there are some examples, there sure as hell aren’t that many in the high-burnout, high-turnover beast known as metalcore. Like Moths to Flames are one of those bands. With a career defined by several extraordinarily strong early releases that, in many ways, defined the “scene” of the early 2010s, it seemed like the band really had no room left to climb, starting on top and staying there through the release of their immense release An Eye for an Eye. The years and releases that followed were experimental, in a way. Not so much experimental as in the band experimented with other genres—Like Moths to Flames have been, are and will likely always be a metalcore archetype—but their sound, message, lyricism and demeanor would shift, grow and expand. The result is not only several excellent release, but the album that serves as the subject matter for this article: The Cycles of Trying to Cope. A touch over fourteen years into their career, and Like Moths to Flames have crafted what is their most comprehensive, diverse and immersive record yet—and to call it what it is, it’s their best. Defined by punchy, anthemic breakdowns admixed with soaring choruses and a backbone of technically savvy, eternally groovy metalcore instrumentation, The Cycles of Trying to Cope is a stunning record that makes 2024 the definitive Year of the Moth.

Those of you following Like Moths to Flames from the Sweet Talker days know that the band’s breakdowns have always been unique even as the more polished “risecore” sound took hold. Tinted with groove and spattered in technicality, the band have always been outstanding at making heaviness catchy. The Cycles of Trying to Cope is absolutely no different. From the opening salvos of “Angels Weep,” the listener is greeted with Roman Garcia’s pummeling percussion working with the fretwork from guitarists Zach Pitney and Cody Cavanaugh. Like Moths to Flames have an incredible track record for above-average instrumentation, but The Cycles of Trying to Cope takes this up to another level. “Over the Garden Wall” and the stunning “What Do We See When We Leave This Place?” Highlight the bands ability to infuse bodacious, groovy bounce with riff-heavy metalcore. Other songs—a personal favorite, “Gone Without a Trace”—focus less on the band’s battle-tested blend of grooves and chugs and more on stunning harmonies with subtle tints of groove to create a song that could be considered radio-friendly in a strictly complementary way. “Gone Without a Trace” uses bouncy and bright drumming with melancholic fretwork to take bits and pieces of the Like Moths to Flames we’ve seen as interludes in or between tracks previously and expand it into one of the most well-rounded songs the band have crafted, and a stunning example of what the depths of the record holds.

Chris Roetter’s voice is the anchor to Like Moths to Flames—when everything else in the band has been in a state of flux, his voice has been the constant, alongside things like death and taxes. The Cycles of Trying to Cope doesn’t seem Roetter necessarily changing key elements of his vocal approach, but it does see Roetter exploring singing just as much as he explores his screaming ranges, making each track incredibly multifaceted. “Paradigm Shift” and “What Do We See When We Leave This Place?” See his harsh, mid-range yell shine as bright as it ever has, but where he Roetter deserves the most praise is for his lyricism and performances on “Gone Without a Trace” and “Kintsugi.” These songs have practically no screaming and barely a breakdown to be found—but they serve as arguably two of the strongest songs on the record. Both have bonafide earworms for choruses, and lyrics that force the listener to spend time thinking about their meaning and impact long after the song comes to a close. Have no fear, though, as Roetter’s shout-before-a-breakdown antics and bitter harsh roars have plenty of runtime to shine on The Cycles of Trying to Cope—“heavy” Like Moths to Flames has gone nowhere.

I was astounded, and continue to be astounded at The Cycles of Trying to Cope. A record I expected to enjoy I’ve ended up loving, and while there may be one or two songs that fall just flat of the heights set by “Kintsugi,” “Gone Without a Trace” and “What Do We See When We Leave This Place?” They are by no means slouches. Like Moths to Flames’ sixth full length record is their finest, and a contender for one of 2024’s apex metalcore records with precious little in the way of tangible flaws. It remains to be seen how Like Moths to Flames come to terms with trying to cope, but I can only hope they have cycles of churning out more records like this long into the future.

For Fans Of: Polaris, Currents, Alpha Wolf
By: Connor Welsh