For Fans Of
The Amity Affliction, hey. It’s your ol’ buddy Matty Sievers here.
How’s things? I’m well, thanks for asking.
It’s been a while since we last spoke or at least since I reviewed you. I remember it like it was about 794 days ago that I reviewed ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’. That’s most likely because that’s the exact amount of time since I reviewed it till the day I’m penning this “open letter”. I talked about that album really fondly. Yes, I did find it lacklustre and flat at times but there was just something about the record that made sense to me and resonated with me. It felt like the same ol’ Amity, but it was the good ol’ Amity.
But I regret not giving it more time before I wrote that piece. Because oh man, did that album have little to no lasting power! I can’t even remember the last time I actually spun that record in full. I liked it for the few weeks after it was out but then bigger, better albums came along and ‘Let The Ocean Take Me’ got swept away with the tide. (Nice little ocean reference there because I am music writer scum).
But that is all in the past now! Sure that album didn’t age as well as it should have after only two years but let’s let bygones be bygones and approach your brand new squeaky clean record with a clean slate. Okay? Cool! Alright, here we go.
‘This Could Be Heartbreak‘ is pretty much the same shit, different toilet.
Whoa, don’t tweet at me just yet, Joel Birch! That’s just an expression. This album isn’t “shit” or even bad. It’s just… well, it’s the same thing you’ve been serving up for a long time now and you can call it tall-poppy syndrome all you goddamn like, but I’m just not buying it anymore! Both monetary and satisfaction wise.
Now while there are some rather new, albeit weak flavours here such as the larger pop sensibility of the title track, more than half of this record could easily fit on any one of your past records post ‘Severed Ties’. Slightly going back on my words here, but the title track does sound oddly familiar to that little number you wrote on the last record called ‘Never Alone’, and ‘Nightmare’ feels wholeheartedly like a ‘Youngbloods’ B-Side. Look, I’m not gonna “pull a Blunt” and just leave my review there. Imma dive right into some specifics for you.
Like, how many times can you guys say, “And then we’ll have Joel scream something really loud and then send the song will go into the breakdown” before you realise it gets old, predictable and loses its impact. Same goes for having the music cut away for a few seconds (dynamically or via some filtered processing) before bursting back into life just moments after. When just about every bloody song relies on this trick to make it feel “bigger” and more “impactful”, you’re not doing yourself any favours. It’s like eating hash cookies. One or two is pretty good but have more than seven than you’ll wake up at 3am with the devil trying to escape through your fucking kneecaps. It sounds like a good idea at the time but fuck, no it isn’t!
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah! Those fucking clean choruses.
Apart from the different keys and tempos, they all sound just so goddamn familiar to each other. These melodies sound the same, the cadence and movement of them is also pretty much the same. After a while, it stops being catchy and just becomes frustratingly monotonous. This isn’t aided by Ahren’s boring and droning vocal style. Yeah, I’m going there too. Seriously guys, I know Ahren can sing, I’ve seen him live many times! So why the fuck are his vocals running through an FX/mix chain longer than Mandingo’s dick? (Warning – that hyperlink ain’t pretty, seriously.). It sounds like there’s seventeen of him all singing in tandem and it sounds as weak as a toddler’s balls – a sentence that I never thought I’d ever say or write – despite the butt loads of compression, reverb and EQing going on with his vocals.
Oh, and that one breakdown you used on every song was pretty cool, too. What a great and wonderful recurring musical motif you have there. That hyperbole and sarcasm does sound far more aggressive than I actually feel about the lack of varying breakdowns here. Also, the MIDI strings got old and stale really fast after you overused them right into the damn ground. They stopped adding a new element or dynamic to the songs and started being really clichéd. If I wanted to hear that shit time after time I’d just listen to ‘Bring Me To Life’ by Evanescence on a ten-hour loop.
But in any case, Ryan Burt, your drumming is damn solid, so keep it up! And…that’s about it for specifics, I think.
What I do really want to tell you guys after all this is that I have no dilemma whatsoever with your themes and message in any way shape or form – just your delivery. For the love of god, keep on talking about depression and mental illness and destigmatising it! Keep on bringing hope and inspiration to fans who feel like they’re lost with no direction. Never stop discussing this topic whatever you do! Though a part of me knows you won’t. But I admire that so much about your band.
The one song on here that I truly enjoyed and that I think is a testament to the writing abilities I know you all have was‘All Fucked Up’. The use of the acoustic guitar really adds a new texture and depth to the song and I was glad you touched on i. The chorus is probably one of the better ones on the record and that ending is a seriously powerful moment. It didn’t rely on any your structural tricks or techniques that you’ve been beaten to death over and over to make it sound louder, or fuller than it was because it was simply well-built to begin with. The choral section was simply beautiful when paired with Birch’s intensive screams that really had me on the edge of my seat.
Apart from that track, there is nothing on ‘This Could Be Heartbreak’ that makes me…well, care. It’s not that I want you to reinvent the wheel, I just want you to change the tire and spice it up a bit. Really pull me into a record and never let me go. Make me sit up and listen with all my attention. Experiment with varying genres and influences. Learn some jazz progressions or maybe look at how progressive bands are writing songs. You are a band with so much potential and strength that I know you can break away from this tired, dreary metalcore sound. Although I genuinely did love ‘All Fucked Up’ all you did was add an acoustic guitar where a distorted electric guitar would normally be. You also don’t just get to sample a church bell and call it innovative.
Look. This record isn’t bad. I need you to know that, guys. It doesn’t suck. It’s not a piece of shit. I just don’t fucking care anymore! Not about your lyrical message, but about your musical delivery. I know I am not alone in this as many friends of mine are having the exact same grievances. Sure, they may just be based off the singles, but they are well-founded criticisms nonetheless.
But hey, what the fuck do you guys care what some random writer thinks, right? You just sold out a decent size Australian tour and will tour the world over again and then do an even bigger tour Down Under again after that. The cycle will continue for you. Becuase writing the same material over and over hasn’t wavered any of your success now, so why change?
Amity, If you do in fact want to angrily tweet me, my twitter handle is @. Or you can always chuck me on the guest list to one of your Melbourne shows and get the punters to crowd kill me. Your move, Amity.
This has been MY open letter to y’all.
Matty Fucking Sievers
When putting condiments on your sandwiches, it is perfectly acceptable to put said condiments onto the bread IF you are planning on eating the sandwich then and there. But if you plan on eating it the day after at work or at school then for the love of all that is heavenly put the condiments on the fucking lettuce or the cheese or drizzle on the meat/filling, otherwise that motherfucker is going to be soggy as shit when you bite into it. And who wants that? The people who like soggy sandwiches are probably the same people who voted “Leave” on Brexit.
I don’t know. I just wanted to give you all a bit of sandwich eating advice to round this review off nicely.
01. I Bring The Weather With Me
02. This Could Be Heartbreak
04. Tearing Me Apart
06. All Fucked Up
07. Fight My Regret
08. Some Friends
10. Note To Self
11. Blood In My Mouth