Australia’s metalcore group The Amity Affliction attempt to get deeply personal and emotionally wrenching in the band’s fifth album This Could Be Heartbreak.
The term metalcore now is getting more meaning as the sub-genre is starting to finally gain appreciation do some of its bands now getting big recognition like Bring Me The Horizon and Parkway Drive. Combining elements of metal and the hardcore punk scene ON PAPER sounds like something that shouldn’t pair. But as time has gone on, bands have proven it can work.
Australia’s The Amity Affliction have been going strong in the metalcore scene since 2003. Now with their fifth full album This Could Be Heartbreak, the band is going for something that is “deeply personal and emotionally wrenching” according to their press release. With an album cover and title like “This Could Be Heartbreak”, it definitely gives the air of emotional. Back in 2014 The Amity Affliction released their best-selling album to date Let The Ocean Take Me, which went platinum in their homeland and also landed in the top 40 selling albums on the US Billboard 200. Emotional and deeply personal was a description that also applied to that album with many grim topics about personal struggles. So if that is any indicator, then the 2016 entry won’t have a problem in holding anything back in emotion.
The most noticeable dynamic when listening to The Amity Affliction is the vocal duo of Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch. There are many metalcore bands out there that incorporate a clean and unclean vocal switch well, but The Amity Affliction might have one of the better renditions of it as the clean vocals truly sounds straight from a punk band while the guttural but well defined screaming hits home on the metal side. But even with the divvied up singing duties to include a cleaner melody throughout the songs, the overall style is still quite hard and heavy. Just from the opening minute of the album you can easily get an impression of both the band’s style and the overall feeling of the new album.
The album opener feels like the highlight of the album. At four and a half minutes it features every strong point of the band. The alternating singing styles, some great drumwork that comes out clear and perfectly timed, a unique bridge to build onto the already grim mood that lyrics about death can bring, and a great guitar solo that sounds like it was stripped out of the hair metal days.
Along with everything I just described about I Bring The Weather With Me, the song also captures that description of “deeply personal and emotionally wrenching”, as does a majority of this album. The first half really flows into each other at that sense as the tempo and mood don’t change a bit through tracks like This Could Be Heartbreak, Nightmare and Tearing Me Apart. In these songs and a majority of the album it feels like The Amity Affliction are doing what they know how to do best. It’s this metalcore writing style and playing format that suits them and they are utilizing it to their advantage. As the track list goes on you understand how it really is their bread and butter.
Just like in the album opener, Tearing Me Apart has a well-orchestrated alternation between vocalists and the drums from Ryan Burt really hit hard and drive the song in terms of keeping the intensity at a high level. The chorus is easy to sing along with and feels fluid from the verses in the song. Even with Joel Birch giving a performance that includes a bit cleaner of singing to go along with his intensity, it still all feels like a solid performance.
One complaint about the album is that the metalcore format the band goes with is so consistent throughout This Could Be Heartache that it feels a bit repetitive after listening for a while, especially when diving into the second half of the album. Tracks like Fight My Regret, Some Friends and Wishbone all become a status quo type feeling. That feeling however might be to many fans liking, and regardless the album ends as strongly as it starts.
Even if the style of song does become repetitive after the first half of the album, the first half of This Could Be Heartbreak is still extremely strong and definitely gives the air of passionate musicians playing their hearts out. There is a raw aggression combined with showmanship and musical talent that many bands would aspire to. Overall, This Could Be Heartbreak is a good entry in the metalcore world and should satisfy any of the band’s past fans as well as listeners who enjoy two contrasting vocalists working together. The Amity Affliction are still going strong and capable of delivering now five albums into their career.