Here we are, at least two decades on from the coining of the accursed metalcore tag, and new records that noisily justify the genre's existence are in short supply. But then a band like DYING WISH come along and smack you so vigorously around the opinion-dispenser that all cynicism needs to be firmly put to one side, at least for their ferocious debut's 36-minute running time. This Portland quintet make no claims to be musically revolutionary, but what they do, they do with an urgency and supreme focus that makes this a very easy album to love. With a sound that takes the best and most vicious parts of the last 25 years of metallic hardcore and related ugliness, DYING WISH may still be evolving and will doubtless sound very different a few years from now, but these songs boldly cluster-bomb the adrenalin bull's-eye, delivering an almost comical amount of inch-perfect beatdowns and bursts of flat out, deathly fury. Meanwhile, vocalist Emma Boster serves up an eye-popping, spittle-spraying and ultimately believable performance that marks her out as a (slightly terrifying) metal star in the making.
It starts with "Cowards Feed, Cowards Bleed": 105 seconds of lurching, swivel-eyed unpleasantness and neck-murdering grooves. It's exactly as angry as you might expect in the midst of today's insanities, but also brilliantly lean, streamlined and fuss-free. Everything that follows exhibits the same desire to make every part of every song count, which makes the brutish, thrash-fueled likes of "Hollowed By Affliction" and "Innate Thirst" instantly engaging and genuinely exciting. More atmospheric fare like "Severing The Senses" and the title track point to more nuanced melodic ambitions, while the brooding battery of the closing "Drowning In The Silent Black" brings Boster's clean vocals to the forefront, amid some of the gnarliest riffing on the whole record.
It's obvious that DYING WISH will grow from here: most sensible folk can't, after all, play straight-ahead metalcore forever. But "Fragments of a Bitter Memory" swings, spits and punches with great intensity, harking back to the days when the genre was a breath of fresh air, but informed by an extra two decades of reasons to be fucking livid. Proper metalcore, you might say.