August 21, 2018 The Amity Affliction – Misery (Album Review)
Fresh off the final Vans Warped Tour, Australian Metalcore outfit The Amity Affliction are making a return with their sixth album, Misery, out Friday, August 24th via Roadrunner Records.
A follow-up to 2016’s This Could Be Heartbreak, on their latest effort, The Amity Affliction weave Electronic beats and Pop Rock elements into their typical heavy sound. These elements are quite a new step for the band, a lineup that now consists only of Vocalist/Keyboardist/Bassist Ahren Stringer, Vocalist Joel Birch, and Guitarist Dan Brown, following the departure of Drummer Ryan Burt in early 2018. No stranger to lineup shakeups, it seems as though the band took this time to reevaluate their sound and take something entirely new into the studio.
Easily the band’s least heavy effort to date, Misery is likely to divide The Amity Affliction’s considerable fanbase. Bringing in multi-platinum Producer Matt Squire, who has worked with everyone from Demi Lovato to Panic! at the Disco, the majority of these tracks are radio ready, easily accessible, and relatively tame when stacked up against the band’s previous efforts. It is no surprise that after fifteen years the band is looking to take a step in a new direction, but Misery may be too much too soon.
Fans were given their first dose of the Electronic sound with album opener “Ivy (Doomsday),” which was released back in June. A decent lead in to the record, this opener is likely one of the catchiest tracks found on Misery despite being one of the least Pop-infused. With a chugging beat, raw chorus, and heavy breakdown, “Ivy (Doomsday)” is one of those songs that is meant to be played and enjoyed live.
Following that up with another single, “Feels Like I’m Dying,” one would hardly think that they were listening to the same album. Starting off with a straight-up dreamy Pop intro, this song weaves in plenty of Electronic elements in what seems like an effort to sound more like Enter Shikari. However, what comes out is a track so polished that it feels a bit hollow.
Like many of the tracks on Misery, “Feels Like I’m Dying” deals with some heavy lyrical material. In case you could not tell by the album title, the lyrics focus heavily on dealing with depression, but for some reason songs such as “Burn Alive” and Misfits-riff “D.I.E.” pop like bubble gum so that any depth is lost. That is not to say that every track on the album lacks feeling. For example, “Holier Than Heaven” features a catchy mix of clean as well as raw vocals, making it far and away one of the album’s standout moments.
Vocally, many of these songs are performed exceptionally well, particularly when the clean and unclean couple up for some classic call-and-response type arrangements or thoughtful layering as heard on “Set Me Free” or “Black Cloud.” In fact, the vocal performances are enough to drive the record along despite any other shortcomings. Fans of bands like Linkin Park or who love the Hard Rock of the early 2000s might find a few kernels of joy in Misery, but perhaps The Amity Affliction are better off when leaning all the way into their standard pulse-pounding breakdowns. Different and surprising, CrypticRock gives Misery 3 out of 5 stars.