You’ll know it’s the Australian band, The Amity Affliction, when you hear their new album, Misery, but it may take you a second listen to be sure. Their sound has evolved from their previous albums and while the new sound works well on some tracks, there are some where it definitely doesn’t. The two common themes in this album are adding synthesizers and using way too much repetition.
The album opens with “Ivy (Doomsday)” and gives the listener a taste of what to expect from the rest of the album with the the synthesizer in the intro and the vocal effects on Joel Birch’s screams. The blend of their old sound and the new direction they’re taking make this a great choice for the opening song in this album.
The next song, “Feels Like I’m Dying”, shows the versatility of Birch when he is singing clean vocals. What I didn’t like about this track is how it feels like the end of the ‘Feels like I’m’ screams were cut off while editing. Maybe that’s the sound they were going for but it didn’t feel natural. Also, the high pitched electronic voices at the end made me want to just press next and not finish the song. While there are a lot of good songs on this album, this one wasn’t my favorite.
“Holier Than Heaven” is one of my favorite tracks on this album. The verse starts off with soft vocals with a low bass and piano. There are a few lines of screaming to contrast the softer clean vocals. Lyrically, this is one of the most emotional songs on the album. It seems like he’s talking about how he’s being dragged to the bottom and there’s nothing he can do about it. This song is very repetitive but not too much so. It adds to the song in a way that gets it stuck in your head, not in a way that’s annoying.
I was almost immediately turned off to “Burn Alive”. Starting the song with bright chimes didn’t fit with the theme of the song. When I think of burning alive, I don’t think about happy chimes. Also, the lyrics were very repetitive. I know the song is called Burn Alive but they don’t need to say it in almost every line.
“Misery” is a very synth heavy song. It works in most places but the synth voice in the chorus doesn’t flow well with the rest of the song and it’s distracting. When I’m trying to figure out what it’s saying, I can’t focus on the rest of the song. This song’s best quality is the lyrics. Although the title is Misery, it’s a very hopeful song. Like the line ‘I’ve seen the future and I wanted to live.’
“Kick Rocks” starts with just a solid drum beat then goes into the synthesizer that has become common to this album. This song reverses the typical scream in the verse and sing in the chorus. The verses are soft with just the synth and the drums and then everything comes in with screams of “Just kick rocks!”. A chorus should be what you remember about a song and they did it well here.
“Black Cloud” is one of my favorite songs in Misery. It starts off with a powerful intro then lets the drum and bass carry the verse. The music is pushing a strong drive through the song and it matches the lyrics perfectly. A good example are the first two lines of the chorus, “While this black cloud follows me, and forces me down to my knees”.
“D.I.E.” is a good song but I but they didn’t need to teach me how to spell die. At one point they spelled it out 12 times in a row. Maybe they wanted us to know that ‘We’re all gonna die’ because they said it enough times that I’m not going to forget. The music is good though so it may be a good song to add to your workout playlist.
“Drag The Lake” had me excited from the start. Hearing a “Kick it!” then a strong intro. After that, the music is great but I didn’t know what the song was about until the end when he says “There’s nothing wrong with my depression”. I still don’t know why I can’t find him if I drag the lake though. Did he get better? Is he in a different lake? Lyrically, this song lacked closure.
“Beltsville Blues” started off with a catchy guitar riff. It goes from soft verses, to heavy choruses, to the bridge that is just screaming. It has a good blend of vocal styles and has more of their old metalcore sound.
The chorus is the strength of “Set Me Free”. It’s extremely catchy. An interesting thing about this song is that the first verse uses clean vocals but the second uses screaming. This was the first time I heard a guitar solo in this album and he didn’t disappoint. It is my favorite song of this album.
“The Gifthorse” seems like the perfect song to end Misery. It starts off soft and stays that way for most of the song until the last chorus. Then it comes in heavy with the guitars and screaming. It shows how he’ll never be free from state of mind that he’s in:
“There’s a message at the bottom of this bottle
And it’s calling out to me
There’s a message at the bottom of this bottle
Saying I can’t set you free”
The album was appropriately named Misery because of the many dark themes. Ironically, one of the most hopeful songs was “Misery”. Although I had a few issues with some songs, this is a solid album. Don’t take my word for it though. Listen to it and if you like what you hear buy the album and support the band!