October 23, 2014 The Amity Affliction – Let the Ocean Take Me (Album Review)
Australian band, The Amity Affliction, have made it through thus far by using transitional ways of playing live to as many people as they can. Having been signed to Roadrunner Records since 2012, they recently released their fourth studio album Let the Ocean Take Me. This album debuts their new guitarist Dan Brown, replacing Imran Siddiqi. Recorded in Evergreen Studios in Brisbane, AU with producer Will Putney, (Winds Of Plague, Upon A Burning Body) much of this album is extremely personal for vocalist Joel Birch. Having had a near death experience during the 2013 Vans Warped Tour as a result of alcoholic withdrawal seizures, Birch realized that his lifestyle was having a major impact on his girlfriend, band members, fans, family, and friends. Joined by Ahren Stringer (Bass & Clean Vocals), Troy Brady (Guitar), along with Ryan Burt (Drums) and the aforementioned Brown (Guitar), Let the Ocean Take Me is an album which has new and old fans curious alike.
Beginning with “Pittsburgh,” an atmospheric opening gives way to charismatic scream vocals from Birch, inter-woven with Stringer’s clean vocals. Feeling like a young and contemporary album, the addition of the children’s choir takes it somewhere else with such dark lyrics lifted by the innocence of youth. Meanwhile the track “Lost & Fading” will draw comparisons with bands such as You Me At Six and All Time Low. This track is very commercial and current, which considering their insistence on not changing their sound to fit in with trends, is remarkably catchy, heavy, yet dark and brooding at the same time. Piano chords define the start of “Don’t Lean On Me,” which is a song dealing with the pressures of having fans write to Birch, explaining their problems to him yet him feeling unable to help them because of the issues he himself is struggling with and worried that he will bring them down with him. “The Weigh Down” also deals with Birch’s need to be supported through a difficult time and talks about his depression and how he does not need other people’s problems adding to his own. “Never alone” ends with a voicemail that is both brutal and honest, as well as dreadfully sad. “Death’s Hand” relates directly to his near death experience, and is a thank you to his fans for keeping him going and being there for him, as does “F.M.L.,” though this song takes a more positive look at finding a future that he nearly did not have. The song “My Father’s Son” is full of rage and anger, self-loathing and acceptance of who he is, while “Forest Fire” describes the feelings of frustration and being unable to escape from the depression. Finally, the track “Give It All” concludes the album with children’s voices giving it poignancy. It is a lament about the pressures and expectations of being in a band, and how hard it is to fulfill them sometimes.
Let the Ocean Take Me is not a happy album, it is full of angst, regret and darkness. While some songs deal with Birch’s battles with depression and anxiety, the frankness of the lyrics and the way he bares all is very brave. The songs are meaningful and Birch is clearly making efforts to put his self-destructive life behind him. The clean and scream vocal style suits the personality of the album well, and Stringer’s vocals complement Birch’s brilliantly. The music is modern, fitting, and heavy. The drums are supplemented with triggers while the guitars amplify the meanings in the song, and they both drive the emotions of the vocal performance and the music’s energy to prevent the songs from becoming too depressing in themselves. All in all, a very gratifying album, and one that is very real and relevant. CrypticRock gives Let the Ocean Take Me 4.5 out of 5 stars.