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Metalcore as a genre is no stranger to emotional messages hidden beneath harsh vocals and heavy riffs; and neither are metalcore veterans Like Moths To Flames.
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Ten years into their career and the Ohio band are still going strong, having just released their fifth studio album No Eternity In Gold. There has been a lot of turmoil in Moths as a band leading up to this point, from line-up changes to label moves and every struggle in-between. For vocalist Chris Roetter, it’s these struggles the band have faced together that made for a strong, authentic album this time around.
“I’d say the same thing about every record, I’d say it’s our best one. But I think this is like truthfully, the best representation of the band,” says Roetter.
Much of this truthful representation on No Eternity In Gold comes from Roetter’s own honest approach to his lyrics, with each of the 11 tracks on the album tackling an issue that the singer struggles with on a daily basis, from religion to relationships.
From just the three singles put out prior to the record’s release, Habitual Decline, YOTM and Selective Sacrifice, there’s already a clear pattern to the issues explored in Roetter’s lyrics.
“So, I think Habitual Decline kind of encapsulates, I’d say the entirety of what I’ve been writing about throughout the course of my career in Moths, and that’s kind of just my ongoing struggle with faith and how it’s always not the most tangible thing to me … ”
“It’s very overwhelming, I think, for my brain to kind of comprehend as I get older, a lot of the things that were pushed on me when I was younger. So, it’s kind of just my struggle with [religion] and, you know, just the lack of, I don’t really know how to word it.”
“It just doesn’t feel like I’m like very welcomed within the religious world, or at least the world that I was brought up in.
“Year Of The Moth [YOTM] kind of pushes more towards, just classic relationship struggle, which for me is kind of opposite cause, I mean, my wife and I have been together for a very extended time. More so for me, it’s kind of focused around some of the friends that I’ve had and made through the band, through members of the band that have stepped away from their spot. I tend to wear the band on my sleeve, because it’s kind of like, I don’t know, it’s my baby. I’m one of the longest standing original members outside of Aaron [Aaron Evans, bass/backing vocals].”
It’s like my version of therapy to write about the things that I go through.
[ Chris Roetter ]
While each track on the album has a different focus, one big consistency in Moths’ writing is religion, and Roetter’s own struggles with his faith and belief. This is a theme touched on in more than one track on No Eternity In Gold; a reflection of Roetter’s own attitudes towards his religious upbringing and how it has impacted who he is today.
“Selective Sacrifice is … Like that’s my very blunt religion song … I think ultimately, Selective Sacrifice takes reign as far as being the ultimate song that kind of touches on that idea.
“For me, a lot of my upbringing was like, if you did certain things wrong that, you know, quote unquote ‘Christianity viewed as wrong’, then you were wrong. When ultimately, a lot of the things that I think maybe you would feel convicted about within that religion or belief system, I didn’t really feel all too linear with.”
“I think most of what, like the attention of that song, is kind of directed at somebody else, but the idea of it is kind of like the whole embodiment of religion for me and how it was a struggle. How ultimately, you know, the morbid reality is that we get one life here.
“So, you know, anticipating this eternity somewhere else makes things complicated here for people that want to live in the now and want to be present in their emotions and you know, that kind of stuff.”
Regardless of the topic touched on in each song, one thing that remains important to Roetter’s writing is authenticity, which translates to these personal themes explored on the new record.
“It’s important to write from an authentic spot, you know, to where you do feel those emotions … I guess that’s why I continuously write about the same things that I’m writing about. It’s kind of just my ongoing battle because it’s my way of exercising the things that I’m trying to say.”
“You know, like I mentioned earlier, I wear the band on my sleeve. So, when somebody says something about the band, whether it be negative or positive, I take it to heart often times, and I want the emotions that I try to portray within the music or within a live setting or how I talk about it, I want to, I still want to be passionate.”
“I don’t want to write things that, in two or three years, that I’ll be like, ‘Man, why did I write that?’”
Though this authenticity is important to Moths’ music, it’s not necessarily the approach every band takes; and there’s nothing wrong with that according to Roetter.
“I definitely think it’s subjective to the band, you know. Cause somebody could listen to some Moths and be like, ‘Well, this doesn’t really do too much for me’ and that, to me, is okay. Because there are people out there that the music does something for them, the content, the lyrics.”
“It’s like my version of therapy to write about the things that I go through. Whereas like, you know, somebody else really likes to tell a well-written story that might not portray their life exactly, that’s just their approach. So, for me, it’s just what works for me, and that’s what works for us as a group.”
I think it’s the most powerful record that the band has ever done. I don’t think it’s the most, melodic, or heaviest; I just think it’s the best.
[ Chris Roetter ]
One of the biggest things that sets No Eternity In Gold apart from Moths’ previous records is the recording process of the album. While Roetter says the band would usually only go into the studio with six or so planned tracks, for this record Moths went in with as many as 30 instrumental tracks to cut down to just 11–giving Roetter a sense of what the full album was going to be before he wrote his lyrics.
“I don’t even really know how to put it into words, but like, it was just a lot easier, even though I didn’t go in with lyrics, to have music that I knew the dudes were proud of, that made me step out of my element and really make sure the things that I was writing were at the peak of my performance. The best that I could do.”
“Because I felt like if I let them down, I wasn’t really doing them a justice by, you know, doing bad things on what I viewed as great at music.”
So how does No Eternity In Gold compare to Moths’ work so far? Is it truly another album that Roetter believes is the band’s ‘best yet’?
“I think it’s the most powerful record that the band has ever done. I don’t think it’s the most, melodic, or heaviest; I just think it’s the best. I think it’s the most well-rounded, I think it’s the best that the instrumentals behind myself have sounded, I think it’s the best that I’ve personally sounded.
“We’ve been listening to the record since February, and I still jam it a couple of times a week, and I still feel very strongly about it. I think the way that everybody talks about it amongst our camp will translate to how it’s perceived by other people. And I don’t mean that I expect everybody to like it. More so just, we enjoy it and I think people will see that.”
Whether No Eternity In Gold is your favourite Like Moths To Flames album or not, it’s certainly the most authentic in Roetter’s eyes. Regardless of if listeners agree, Roetter is just happy to still have this platform to write what’s important to him and his bandmates ten years into the band’s career.
“For us, we just like to treat the band like an open book, you know, there’s nothing that we’re trying to hide from people. The band isn’t necessarily trying to quote unquote ‘reinvent the wheel’, but we’re just very thankful that, 10, 11 years in, that we do still have a platform and a place where we can write and have fans and friends and family who still support and listened to the band.”
“So, it’s a learning process for us too, but, you know, I’m excited to share, nonetheless so.”