ALBUM REVIEW – “Let the Ocean Take Me” by The Amity Affliction

Just when it looked like I Killed the Prom Queen had indisputably retaken the Australian metalcore throne for 2014, one of the most acclaimed bands the country’s scene has ever produced have returned in as fine form as ever. Having a discography as consistent and well-regarded as any of their peers, The Amity Affliction have set a high standard for themselves as well as those around them, producing some of the most heartfelt and emotionally-charged heavy music of the last few years. 2012’s Chasing Ghosts both amplified the band’s international profile and topped the charts in their homeland, and so represents a difficult act to follow. Fans will be pleased to know that the towering anthems on Let the Ocean Take Me easily live up to expectations.

It’s clear from the get-go that this is an album with immense depth, more rewarding with each listen. Hook-drenched opener and single ‘Pittsburgh’ (which features a stunning use of choral female vocals before its final chorus) aside, the treasures here are often more carefully earthed than those of previous albums. The two longest songs, ‘Never Alone’ and ‘Give It All’, act as elaborate, sinuous conclusions to each half of the album and rely as much on texture and intricately-weaved, unpredictable musical structures as obvious hooks. ‘Never Alone’ in particular showcases a far more subtle and thus enjoyable use of electronic effects than many similar bands, while its long phone-call centred coda offers a mesmeric interlude into the album’s second half, which kicks off with the more aggressive ‘Death’s Head’.

As much as this represents a more mature and evolved sound for The Amity Affliction, there are moments of Let the Ocean Take Me that feel as uncompromisingly vicious as anything they’ve done previously, including the clearly cathartic ‘My Father’s Son’ (an exhibition to other bands of how to write and use breakdowns effectively) and the frantic initial blast of ‘Lost and Fading’. One of the band’s clear strengths has always been juxtaposition of screamed and clean vocals without the combination feeling hackneyed, and instead equally balancing the two techniques to keep their songs engaging from beginning to end. ‘Don’t Lean On Me’ is perhaps the best example of this, while also boasting background strings that elevate the chorus magnificently. Throughout, the album’s production strikes a strong balance between power and smoothness that matches the band’s music.

Overall a more positive and grandiose feeling record than its predecessor, Let the Ocean Take Me continues the band’s hot streak. Though it doesn’t see The Amity Affliction add any significant tricks to their repertoire it is as well-crafted a concoction of melody and muscle as anything else they’ve done previously, and feels different enough in tone to not sound tired or tedious. Leaning towards the more accessible end of hardcore-influenced music is no bad thing, especially when the results are as enjoyable as this.

Rating: 8 / 10

[Michael Bird]

‘Pittsburgh’

‘Don’t Lean On Me’

 

Amity

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