Review Summary: the Amity Affliction emerge from the shadows of their peers in Australia's everygrowing metalcore scene.
The ever-growing over population of post-hardcore shows no signs losing steam. The modern day equivalent of the hair metal era continues on, making record companies millions while stifling any potential for originality. The competitive nature of the hardcore and metal scene means the careers of bands are dependant on instant success. The cut throat attitudes of record labels places huge pressure on bands to produce music that will make them RISE/Victory/any record label's next cash cow. Unfortunately, the lifespan of many of these promising bands is cut short by both the financial constraints of constant touring and putting out new records and the ever changing need for something new and cutting edge. Australian outbackers the Amity Affliction are an exception when it comes to this notion. Born back in 2002 the Amity Affliction has spent the majority of their careers’ on the backburner. Low key releases “High Hopes” and “Severed Ties”, while arguably well received they did little to whet the appetite of post-hardcore listeners.
“Youngbloods” is the band’s sophomore LP release and their coming of age. What is evident immediately is the upgrade in production quality. Packed full of glossy vocal effects, tasteful use of electronic samples and crisp guitars it seems the Aussie band’s record label saw it as time to give the band a fair crack of the whip in funding good production. The improvement from previous releases is monumental in this respect. Other marked improvements can he heard everywhere. Vocal inconsistencies that hampered previous releases have been corrected. The clean vocals have been particularly improved, bassist Ahren Stringer pours out his soaring melodies to great effect throughout in conjunction with the atmospheric, melodic leads of Troy Brady.
The guitar leads of title track “Youngbloods” showcase both the competency of Brady as a musician but also as a songwriter. The melodic passages that frequent many of the tracks help ascend the album to epic melodic heights and put to shame the shallow attempts of countrymates “House vs. Hurricane” of emulating a Misery Signals’ esque style ambience in many of the leads in recent release “Perspectives”. Brady's infectious guitar hooks make "Youngbloods" a far more accessible alternative to most of the Amity Affliction's competitors. The technicality and diversity of his parts rank him up with the best of modern post-hardcore, consequently making him the ideal focal point for the band.
The band's use of electronics add extra textures to their soundscape. Samples are used sparingly and subtly in tracks such as "Dr. Thunder" and "RIP Foghorn". The latter features a keyboard drenched breakdown that could serve as an example of good practise for the many breakdown obsessed pretenders.
However despite the step up in almost all respects, the band rarely moves out of its song writing comfort zone. They follow the tried and tested post-hardcore formula religiously. The drop C metalcore chugga chug rhythms are present in most if not all tracks making the record seem a little linear. Also, it would seem Stringer concentrates more on his vocal parts than his bass work as it is rarely audible in any capacity other than supporting the rhythm. Their sole purpose seems to be to add a heavy underlay and provide a platform for lead guitarist Brady to shine. Whether they underestimate their capabilities or the band does not require them to expand their horizons is impossible to guess but there is room for expansion in this respect.
It seems to be the time of year for metalcore and post-hardcore bands to put out new records with the impending releases of In Fear and Faith, Parkway Drive and Haste the Day. While it is unlikely “Youngbloods” will upstage the more fashionable “Deep Blue” listeners can be assured of a more rounded and enjoyable listening experience from the Amity Affliction.
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