For Fans Of
The two names that first come to mind when one thinks of Australian heavy music are Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction. The latter, if you’ve been living under a rock, are a six-piece powerhouse from Brisvegas who are known for their infectious combination of heavier hardcore elements with unbeatable melodies and screamo vocals. One of the most anticipated albums of the year, the latest effort “Youngbloods” is their finest work to date. Released on Melbourne-based Boomtown Records it marks their fourth release and their second full-length after 2008’s unlikely album-of-the-year “Severed Ties”. It was recorded in New Jersey with Machine who’s the guy behind albums by punk and metal heavyweights like Every Time I Die, Lamb of God and Four Year Strong. This has undoubtedly been a wise move, as the quality of the recording and production is a major factor which differentiates “Youngbloods” from previous efforts and brings Amity wholeheartedly into the big leagues.
Admittedly I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to popular music, so it took me a while to get onto this band. I’m an idiot though, because make no mistake they are worth every bit of the hype. Even more so than Amity’s last album “Youngbloods” is ultra-accessible. It literally has something for everyone: catchy choruses and sing-a-longs, plenty of great mosh parts, excellent riffs and vocal melodies. More than anything what makes this band great is that they have a thoroughly cohesive sound. While there’s plenty of variety within and between tracks, there’s enough consistency that you always know that it’s Amity. More than anything this makes “Youngbloods” an album in the fullest sense, all killer no filler as the kids say.
Bassist / clean vocalist Ahren Stringer has stepped it up even further in the quality of his singing for this release. His vocals have progressed out of sight since his first appearance with Amity on their 2007 EP “High Hopes”, and “Youngbloods” arguably confirms him to be one of the most talented vocalists in the business. As a sidenote I sincerely hope that one day he gets into a City and Colour-style side project. Often a controversial element of heavy music, I would say the use of synth keyboards generally makes the majority of bands about 50% worse. Amity somehow manage to pull it off flawlessly, and wouldn’t be as good without it. Further breaking from the screamo mould, Amity’s lyrical dealings with suicide and depression provide an ultimately uplifting message throughout, rather than recycling immature cliches. A personal favourite, the anti-religious sentiments expressed through “Fire or Knife” will have proud atheists singing along for sure.
“Youngbloods” opens with perhaps the heaviest number on the album, “I Hate Hartley”. Punishing guitars are juxtaposed with vocalist Joel Birch’s heavier-than-ever screams before breaking into one of the most motivational choruses of recent years and descending into a dissonant breakdown. A crowd favourite in the making, “Anchors” epitomises Amity’s appeal. Combining a painfully catchy chorus, their signature synth-laced breakdowns, and motivational set of gang vocals (or should I say army vocals they’re so epic), this will have everybody singing along.
“Dr Thunder” is one of the more commercial tracks, and I found its chorus which talks about “under oceans” and “coffins” a little pedestrian and boring. Nevertheless its by no means bad, rather a well-written poppy tune that written by most other bands would be their hit. “RIP Foghorn”, “Youngbloods” and “No Sleep ‘Till Brisbane” see the Amity at their more anthemic, the massive choruses and epic synth parts meshing perfectly with their understated heaviness. While not an overwhelming element of their sound, breakdowns are weaved in liberally and don’t sound at all forced which is great. The iTunes exclusive track “15 Pieces of Flair” is worth getting a hold of too, which is a bit reminiscent of "High Hopes"-era stuff.
Like any heavy band that makes it big, The Amity Affliction will inevitably have its detractors. The reality is that “Youngbloods” is a perfectly crafted work of its genre. It’s more original, genuine, catchy, heavy and consistent than any similar act whether domestic or international. An obvious candidate for Australian album of the year, the songwriting is truly peerless in the screamo / melodic metalcore genre. Rather than dismiss Amity for their successes, back them because they’re the cream of the Australian crop.
1. "I Hate Hartley"
3. "H.M.A.S Lookback"
4. "Fire or Knife"
6. "Dr. Thunder"
7. "Olde English 800"
8. "No Sleep ‘Till Brisbane"
9. "RIP Foghorn"
10. "Fuck the Yankees"
11. "15 Pieces of Flare (iTunes bonus track)"