Texas metallic hardcore pack Will To Live are making a resounding comeback in 2023 with their new hard-hitting LP, “The Therapy Sessions,” set to be released on May 26 via Another City Records. With a history spanning over two decades, Will To Live has played a pivotal role in establishing the hardcore foundation in Texas, influencing bands like Power Trip, Frozen Soul, Iron Age, and Bitter End. Today, we’re stoked to give you an early listen of the full thing, with a special track by track commentary below!
“The Therapy Sessions” consists of eight powerful tracks that blend hardcore punk intensity with punishing breakdowns and formidable riffs. Each song tells a tale of survival, delving into themes of emotional abuse, spousal abuse, indoctrination, loss, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
Led by vocalist Roberto “Rob to Live” Galdamez, drummer Mike “Fury” Arellano, bassist Eric Gibson, and guitarists Daniel Austin and Chris “Conflict” Hatfield, Will To Live showcases their evolution while staying true to their roots. This release demonstrates their growth as a band over the years, combining insightful and inspiring lyrics with the relentless energy and ethos of hardcore punk, augmented by the brutal force of death metal breakdowns.
“The Therapy Sessions” is not only their most powerful performance on record but also their most urgent and necessary lyrical material to date. Addressing the importance of mental health, Will To Live offers a compelling and emotionally charged album that resonates deeply.
The album comes as a poignant collection that shares the stories of brave survivors. It explores the triumph of light in the darkest of places and pays tribute to those who battle mental health issues. Through energetic and powerful tracks, Will To Live showcases the transformative power of therapy and the resilience of the human spirit. From stories of overcoming severe abuse to escaping cults and surviving trauma, the album emphasizes the importance of support, understanding, and the journey towards healing. It serves as a testament to the fact that even in the depths of despair, there is hope and the possibility of a better tomorrow.
“The Therapy Sessions” track by track analysis:
“The Therapy Sessions is a collection telling the stories of brave survivors.” – comments the band. “Some are in a good place now, while others are still weathering the storm. These are not my stories, but they are stories that must be told. The world needs a testament; the world needs to know that even in the darkest of places, light can prevail. This goes out to all these brave warriors, their families, and mental health professionals who walk side by side with them – often – into the depths of hell.”
Words by the band:
Session 1: Molded
This one is the opening sledgehammer, a short and sweet statement saying that Will To Live is back, filled with energy, urgency, and purpose. It tells the story of a person I know who endured severe mental abuse, which developed into a major depressive disorder, which led to feelings of worthlessness and failed suicide attempts. In their thirties, this person eventually sought professional help, and through therapy, they managed to carry on with a relatively stable life. Stronger, fearless, molded through suffering.
Session 2: Cold Embrace
This song marks a slight departure from what long time Will To Live fans may be used to. While galloping metal riffs have been featured in previous songs, the rhythm of the vocal delivery on the verse is different from our usual. It has catchy choruses with the classic Will To Live heavy groove midsection. This track tells the story of an academically gifted person who endured mental abuse by their parents. The very people that wanted to see this person succeed pushed so hard that the person eventually broke. Scholarships and honors programs were replaced by depression and crippling anxiety which was self-medicated through several controlled substances. At 35 years old, this person now sees a different side of things. Therapy has played a role in understanding, as well as letting go of toxic thought patterns, and perhaps even acknowledging that the intentions of this person’s parents were not malicious. It took me years to get it: This is how you were taught to shape me into someone – a torch in this dark world!
Session 3: Resolute
Resolute may be the angriest and most percussive song on the entire record. It starts off with a heavy groove that eventually changes to a fast part that unravels into circle pit madness. This song has a different style chorus as well. Finalized with a singalong that ends in a pummeling classic Will To Live breakdown. The lyrics are based on two different, unrelated individuals and their experience with marital abuse. I spent more time with these two subjects than with anyone else whose story is told in The Therapy Sessions, and that’s why I decided to include both of their stories in the song. You often hear stories of spousal abuse where the victim is female, but you tend to hear less about these cases involving a heavily tattooed bear of a man. Yet, both people experienced mental and physical abuse at the receiving end of their spouses. The gentleman took a bit longer to seek therapy, but eventually both came to a similar conclusion, and both are now in stable situations, working on themselves. I’m resolute, I will not allow anyone to destroy my life again!
Session 4: Ever After
This track is two-step heaven. It features a catchy, driving beat with a heartfelt chorus, and the crushing breakdown at the end incorporates a little homage to Morbid Angel. This therapy session centers around my friend, who was raised in a cult. Without splitting hairs on definitions, this is an organization that isolates, has a rigorous control system over its members, and the level of influence and control is such that once a member is ousted, or they manage to escape, they know little else besides “that” world. It’s designed that way: fealty or excommunication. My friend carried on with life as best as he could out of the closed-off world he was raised in, self-medicating the damage he felt inside with different substances. Eventually, my friend spiraled so far out of control that he almost died, and not ironically, his mother, who had remained part of “that” religious institution, rescued him from death’s grip. True love doesn’t have contingencies, nor demands (such as “fealty or else”). My friend is alive and well now, and he’s an entrepreneur in the food industry. Real love kept me alive – pulled me from death’s grip, without a second thought.
Session 5: Before You Go
This one is the most nostalgic of all the songs on this record for me. It has elements of something Will To Live would have written in the early 2000s, yet with an updated, matured sound. Circle pit parts. Two-steps. Anthem-worthy chorus. What is there not to like? This song is not inspired by one specific person. I think it’s the therapy session for all of us who are tired of seeing our friends and loved ones check out. What can you say to someone that is in that frame of mind that won’t make them immediately shut you out? This is an open love letter to those friends and family members in a bad place, who may be thinking of checking out, or who have accidentally left us while self-medicating their hurt. I had a lot of friends in mind when I wrote this, including my own nephew, Ari, who passed away January 1, 2021. I hope people identify with it. I wouldn’t dare to say I know your pain. Just believe I’ll always…always be there for you!
Session 6: I Am
Oh yes, this is another angry one, and the subject matter, which I will discuss in a minute, demands it. The furious intro has lots of ride cymbal attack, sounds like a hammer forging a weapon upon an anvil. This is followed by some call-to-answer lines that eventually lead to a galloping driving riff that any Carcass fan will appreciate. The classic Will To Live heavy breakdown makes another appearance and is followed by a section that mirrors the furious intro section to close with. Along with Session 4, this is the only other track that specifies the gender of the subject. This is about someone I know who survived a vicious sexual attack. This is that woman’s firsthand account of what she felt the day of the attack, and most importantly, how she survived, and how eventually through therapy she finds herself as an empowered survivor – not a victim. Not that this couldn’t happen to a man, but in this case, it happened to a woman who is now doing well. I am the weapon now!
Session 7: Into the Jungle
This is an intro, a stompy warm-up to the following track. A way to get some energy going for the final charge. Lyrically, this track foreshadows the sad story that is to come.
Session 8: Nothing is Over
This was actually the first track we wrote for this album. We wrote it years ago and just left it in the cooler until the time came to write a full album. The song is fast and urgent, as the subject matter demands. It features a midsection that should make Crowbar fans proud and finishes with what is likely the heaviest breakdown of the entire album. The track title took inspiration from my favorite dialog from the movie character, John Rambo. Not only that, I also took inspiration from many friends who went off to war and didn’t come back the same. Much like the movie character, they’ve had a hard time coping with civilian life, PTSD, survivors’ guilt, etc. Interviewing some of these veterans, including some involved on the medical end and veteran services, confirm that while there are resources for returning veterans, the process can be lengthy and difficult. So much so, that many go without proper mental health services, leading to untreated conditions that can – and do – spiral down to divorce, homelessness, suicide, etc. This song says, “you’re not alone.” Leave no one behind.
Presenting these stories with the respect they deserved has been an honor, and it presented a challenge because I wanted to do right for these folks. Also, because my life has been so privileged, starting with great supportive parents and a healthy support system, it was hard to write some of these things. I trust you all will get something out of these stories. If nothing else, hopefully it can be a comfort knowing you’re not alone.