Metalcore is more than just music for the Virginia-based band Dying Oath. For them, the genre is about delivering a message through the energy and passion of body language and facial expressions. The power of emotion drives their live performances.
“You can feel what we’re trying to say in the music,” says Mindy Jackson, co-vocalist for the band. “You can see what we wrote in real life and not just things that we made up and put on paper.”
Building off influences of 2000s metalcore bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage, Bullet for My Valentine, Asking Alexandria, Bring Me the Horizon and many more, Dying Oath brings forth the best of what made that era in metal so great: strong elements of melodic death metal.But, they try to do it with a modern view, with a clean male vocal and harsh female vocal combo.
Jackson says it’s something “people that enjoyed the 2000s metalcore genre back in the day can still cling to, but it’s also something unique to Dying Oath that people will enjoy and interpret for themselves.”
The band, kick-started back in 2018 by lead guitarist Josh Hagee and rhythm guitarist Ryan Endicott, has taken many forms. After playing with a completely different lineup of musicians, the two ventured out to find new members who agreed with what they wanted to do musically. They didn’t find them right away, but Jackson says the band now has its final lineup, which features her, co-vocalist Nestor Idler, drummer Sean Stafford, lead guitarist Josh Hagee, rhythm guitarist Ryan Endicott and bass guitarist Kristen Sawyers.
That lineup has played only a handful of live shows together but recently won a fan-vote-based contest, Vote For Your Favorite Band, sponsored by tastytrade, DWPresentsand That Zebra Show, despite entering a week later than everyone else.
The competition exposed the band to 319,229 viewers, which Jackson says means more than making money. After entering the contest, Dying Oath’s music was played on That Zebra Show’s Twitch livestream. Then each week for a month, fans were sent links to vote. Dying Oath came out on top with 2,572 votes.
“Everything you do helps with exposure,” Jackson notes.
Because the band doesn’t have a recording contract, they’re on their own to expand their fan reach. Although it costs money and eats up a lot of free time, reaching out to fans brings comfort to Dying Oath. They’re part of a music community that supplies them with an outpouring of support, and they rely on word of mouth to bring in new fans, as well as DIY mass promotions and marketing through their social media pages.
The band also keeps up with a separate, more intimate fan page with about 1,000 followers. There, they interact personally with fans and post exclusive videos and other behind-the-scenes content not available on their public accounts.
“The good thing is that all these people support the band, not only by coming to shows or buying merch, but by helping us by promoting as well,” Jackson says.
Their support goes beyond that, though. The band recently set out in their van to travel and play a few shows in different states. As a band on the road, they experienced the obligatory van troubles, forcing them to cancel two shows and come up with the money for repairs. But their fan base quickly rallied, sending donations through the band’s PayPal account to get them back on the road.
Now that they’re back in motion, Dying Oath is set to play a few festivals during the summer, delivering their melodic metal tunes. With two vocalists, Jackson and Idler bounce off one another with hearty, deep emotional screams and smoother melodies, accompanied by heavy instrumentation.
After working on a full-length album for the past year, the band hopes to release it in the next few months, displaying a more developed and mature sound, Jackson says. As an independent group, Dying Oath would like to reach the point where music could be their full-time gig. If they don’t, though, Jackson says they’ll continue making music regardless.
Start with Dying Oath’s End of Days, a song that shows the progress the band is making. Each song for them is like a natural evolution.
Pay attention to the emotion the vocalists express and how that’s countered by sporadic and upbeat instrumentation. The band’s goal is to make listeners feel connected and empowered.
Kendall Polidori is The Rockhound, Luckbox’s resident rock music critic. Follow her reviews on Instagram and Twitter @rockhoundlb.