Australia: home of the hole in the ozone layer, killer creatures, brave people—because they live with aforementioned killer creatures, stupidly hot weather, Soundwave and bloody brilliant metal bands. Australia practically exports metal bands with the likes of Parkway Drive, I Killed the Prom Queen, Make Them Suffer, Dream On Dreamer and Northlane. The Amity Affliction forms part of these mighty ranks. The intriguing thing about all these bands is that they all perform a variation of metal-core or post-hardcore. Maybe it is something in the water that makes Australians talented metal musicians?
Not only is Let the Ocean Take Me The Amity Affliction’s fourth album; it is also a milestone in their career as it marks their 10 year anniversary of being together as a band. With this in mind, one can only expect the album to be absolutely brilliant. The Amity Affliction does not disappoint. They produce what may be one of their best albums yet. Their original abrasive post-hardcore/metal-core hybrid sound has been more polished and refined into a more melodic yet hard-hitting metal-core sound. Ahren Stringer’s clean vocal are as haunting and soaring as ever while Joel Birch’s unclean vocals are at their finest. His comprehensible yet guttural screams form a beautiful contrast to Stringer’s soaring clean vocals.
This album takes on a much more personal aesthetic regarding the lyrics. Their previous album, Chasing Ghosts was an extremely positive album ,which was rooted within an anti-suicide message. LOTM on the other hand, takes a much darker and more personal lyrical path with Birch expounding on a variety of things that have occurred in his life in the past year and a half. Things ranging from a car accident that nearly killed him, passing out on the Warped Tour due to dehydration, and the overwhelming burden of playing therapist to countless fans who open up to him after the release of Chasing Ghosts. Another aspect of the lyrics are the rich imagery that constantly refers to the ocean. What I love about this imagery is how accurate and vividly descriptive it is. It gives you the impression that Birch is being crushed by the pressure of being an idol within the metal scene, or how his battle with addiction and his mental problems often make him feel like he’s drowning.
LOTM is kick-started, ironically, by the lead single off the album “Pittsburgh.” This song introduces you to the entire theme of the ocean and especially relates the Chasing Ghosts era themes of anti-suicide while writing from the perspective of a suicidal person. Birch spews devastating lyrics like “I’ve been searching for answers/ but I’m lost inside my head/ I spend every waking moment / Wishing this would end.” Another interpretation of this song is that it is about how Birch was feeling just after he woke up from passing out due to dehydration on the Warped Tour. It is possibly a reflection of thinking about what he had just done and trying to figure out why he did it.
“Don’t Lean On Me” cuts straight into the deeply personal lyrics. It opens with Birch screaming “Let the ocean take me” and progresses into Birch practically venting about how he is overwhelmed by the massive burden of responding to fans who struggle with depression and suicide. Chasing Ghosts touched a lot of people’s live and also caused Birch to become a means of support for these fans. This must be a heavy burden for anybody, as no musicians is trained to deal with a flood of people clamoring for help. Birch spews the interesting lyric of “All this sorrow / All this grief/ Its brings me to tears/ and I feel so fucking helpless when I can’t bring your relief.” It makes you stop and think about the pressure people are putting on you. A brilliant aspect of the song is how Stringer’s clean vocals play the role of reflecting the fan that needs Birch’s help.
“Never Alone” deals with same theme within in “Don’t Lean On Me” while maintaining a positive anti-suicide attitude. A striking part of the song is the end. It ends with a voicemail that is somebody’s suicide note. The cool thing is that this is followed by “Death’s Hand,” which is a brilliant and uplifting song which makes you think that the guy in the voicemail found the strength to go on. It also feels like it reflects Birch’s recovery from a car accident that almost killed him and his fight with addiction after Warped Tour. He spews the poignant lyric of “You gave me the strength to say/ hey death, get fucked”.
Let the Ocean Take Me may be one of the greatest albums I have heard so far during this year. It is undoubtedly one of The Amity Affliction’s greatest albums to date. Four albums in, and ten years old, and this band has swung from strength to strength with each release, and now Let the Ocean Take Me displays their true strength. This is a band that Australia should be proud of. They have delivered an album that manages to keep a balance between melodic and heavy while maintaining a lyrical balance between dark and positive. This is album with one underlying message: Stay strong, have faith and keep your hopes up high.
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