Review Summary: Experimentation in the form of conformity.
The Amity Affliction once had that something
a lot of Australian ‘scene’ bands lacked. And it’s a shame it never stuck, because they were once the equally fantastic alternative to Parkway Drive. But just as their counterparts have, they’ve forgone what little originality they possessed and progressed through regression. Parkway Drive tried, and failed, to do what bands like Bring Me The Horizon have (surprisingly) successfully done; provide a sound that was far more accessible, despite already breaking the boundaries of their genre. It’s only natural, then, that The Amity Affliction try the same approach. Their sound had grown stale, culminating in the awful This Could Be Heartbreak
. Thus, Misery
is new ground for the band, but far from progression in terms of sound. Dull, watered-down, and lacking anything different that a band like BMTH doesn’t already possess, Misery
is experimentation in the form of conformity.
rarely shines, the much-improved vocals of Ahren Stringer certainly tries their hardest to sell the listener on the album. The previous outing for Amity contained some awful auto-tuned vocal melodies, but here they sound far more varied and natural. Though he’s never been one of the genre’s best, songs like ‘Holier Than Heaven’ prove he still has what it takes after a period of mediocrity. It’s a shame, then, that it’s wasted on terrible one-liners and lacklustre choruses. On follow-up track ‘Burn Alive’, easily one of the worst tracks on the album, we’re greeted with the opener I’ll burn alive for you/Burn alive, it’s true
, followed by Joel Birch’s coarse vocal delivery that sounds incredibly forced; Let’s start a fire, I’m terrified, I’m terrified
The vocals, however, are but a minor trash fire in an already-raging full-scale blaze. Just like their contemporaries, Amity look to incorporate new sounds by rehashing what many have done before them. Keys and synths are aplenty throughout Misery
and not once do they feel natural or meaningful. They typically act as a replacement for any noticeable contribution from the other instrumentals, even acting as the hook for the chorus in ‘Feels Like I’m Dying’. It’s tacky, and combined with the empty instrumentals, it results in a genuinely painful listening experience. Percussion sounds like paper, guitars are weirdly low in a mix that is already quiet, and bass? Hardly know her. Tracks very rarely deviate from the most basic of song structures, with tracks like ‘Kick Roots’, ‘Set Me Free’, and ‘The Gifthorse’ all opening slow and ‘meaningful’ but never actually achieving anything. Stringer’s vocals lack the capabilities in both range and tone to be given such a forefronted placement in the mix, and the instrumentals suffer, even if the performance is already lacking to begin with.
And so, perhaps this is the end of The Amity Affliction. In a world of Northlane and Polaris, bands who have continually pushed their sound instead of pandering, Amity have continually refused to move past old habits. And although past habits are somewhat erased with Misery
, it’s in no way an erosion anyone wanted. It’s Amity struggling to find their feet in a scene that has long lost the ability to give them the light of day. It’s a shame, but they did it to themselves. We don’t want another BMTH. We just want the old Amity back.