June 10, 2014 - Roadrunner
Australia’s the Amity Affliction have always incorporated life’s transformative experiences into their musical and lyrical framework. Their moniker originates from the hardship following the traffic accident death of a high school friend; Joel Birch has historically used his position as frontman to discuss his battles with anxiety and depression; and “Pittsburgh,” the lead-off track to Let The Ocean Take Me, concerns the circumstances and aftermath surrounding Birch suffering a near-fatal seizure at the Pittsburgh stop of 2013’s Warped Tour. There’s a deeply personal and emotionally wrenching side to this band, one you don’t usually find with most breakdown-centric, sing/scream metalcore. With that in mind, it’s only natural to think that now would be as good a time as any for the band to branch out beyond the sound that has many perceiving them as little more than nippers on the heels of We Came As Romans and Of Mice & Men.
Let The Ocean Take Me makes great strides in keeping one foot in the metalcore pool while doing a multi-directional genre dance with the other—sort of like a new-school hokey-pokey for those who would sport full sleeves and spacers. “Pittsburgh” and “Give It All” fittingly drop a “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”-style choir into a flurry of crunchy, mid-paced riffs and furious harmonies. “Don’t Lean On Me” utilizes pensive piano and engaging minor-key combinations alongside a chorus and middle-eight designed for mass salutation in the 110-degree heat of Warped’s suburban parking lots, whereas “My Father’s Son” is a definitive display of how labyrinthine pop and djent-y metal can co-exist. Despite the quintet’s positive spit-shining of the songwriting craft, there are far too many instances where the vocal melodies of clean singer/bassist Ahren Stringer sound recycled and their inclusion of electronic-inspired blips, bloops and Auto-Tune is charmingly clumsy at best (“Forest Fire”) and reprehensibly generic at worst (“Death’s Hand”).
They’re obviously still working out the kinks that come with stepping out of one’s comfort zone, but all in all Let The Ocean Take Me is an encouraging signpost that sees the Amity Affliction slowly tearing up the blueprint that drove their early works.