The Amity Affliction haven’t broken any boundaries on their fourth LP, Let the Ocean Take Me. The album stays firmly within the band’s comfort zone as songwriters, which may be exactly what some fans are looking for, but it leaves the rest of us wondering why nothing has changed since their previous outing, Chasing Ghosts.
The new album also falls short of the band’s head-turning 2010 release Youngbloods, on which they worked with Grammy-nominated American producer Machine, a proven master of the Goldilocks technique. Machine helped the band break the mould of their earlier discography to uncover a sound somewhere between pop and hardcore, weaving in keys and synth without compromising the band’s belligerent sound.
But on Let the Ocean Take Me, Amity seem hampered by a case of inertia, a prime example being the album’s first single, Pittsburgh. Its colourful, pop-oriented choruses that flank growl-laden passages which sound almost shoe-horned in, while relatively pleasant, confirm that the band could never bring themselves to stray too far from their vintage sound.
Watch: The Amity Affliction – Pittsburgh
Your basic recipe for an Amity Affliction song is thus: verses are an open forum for frontman Joel Birch to scream away his demons, while choruses are the soapbox for Ahren Stringer and his clean, rhyme-simple vocals. This is usually followed by a bridge, wherein Birch provides a resolution to the track’s invariably dark themes – note “Hey death, get fucked!” on Death’s Hand or “I ain’t a hollow shell no more” on FML. Then breakdown, build up, and back to the chorus.
On the new album, tracks like Never Alone and Don’t Lean on Me serve as clear examples of the band’s regression to their time-honoured genre ambiguity. The choruses are frustratingly poppy, with keys and synths distracting from the band’s hardcore nucleus. We’re offered a brief respite during the grunge-like verses of Never Alone, before the chorus barrels in with that irritating candy-rock sound.
Of course, it must be noted that regardless of any artistic slip-ups, the band remain ethically spotless. As on their previous two LPs, the anti-suicide themes are rife. Birch continues to sing with heartfelt passion about his battles with depression and anxiety, declaring Let the Ocean Take Me his most personal album yet, following a near death experience on the 2013 Warped Tour.
The Amity Affliction’s fourth album is, for better or worse, very much a rehashing of the same old formula. But it’s one that is tried and true, and for a band that prides itself on a commitment to giving fans what they want, Let the Ocean Take Me serves as the perfect statement of who this five-piece from Gympie are. Kind of comforting, no?
Watch: The Amity Affliction – Don’t Lean On Me
The Amity Affliction’s fourth album, ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’, is out now.