Revved-up rhythms, soaring melodies, blistering breakdowns and hilariously subversive non-sequitur song titles are the stock-in-trade of the hard-partying mischief-makers in The Amity Affliction. Yet cloaked beneath the mayhem lie the stark realities of humankind’s dark struggle with mortality. Simply put, these four Australians have found reasons to smile even as they confront some of the harder truths of life.
The Amity Affliction make a difference in people’s lives, go absolutely mental on stage, love to party but somehow manage to keep it all together without compromising their musical integrity.
While combining the full-on sing/scream assault of early Atreyu, the metallic adventurous bite of Poison the Well, the gang-vocal-chant inspiring stomp of Bring Me the Horizon and the skillfully melodic angst of Alexisonfire, The Amity Affliction offer something altogether new, unique and distinct with their twist on such electrifying sounds.
The juxtaposition of fun-loving attitude (and song titles) with dark but empowering anthems has endeared The Amity Affliction to a growing legion of fans who travel great distances to see them, tattoo the band’s lyrics and artwork on their bodies and voice their devotion all over social media. Whether devastating the stage on Soundwave in their native country or on the AP Tour in North America, The Amity Affliction thrive on a visceral, immediate connection with their audience.
The raw power of The Amity Affliction’s full-length debut, Severed Ties, made way for a breakthrough follow-up. Youngbloods debuted at No. 6 on the Australian charts and was named Album of the Year in Blunt, upping the ante with powerhouse songs that remain live staples.
The Amity Affliction’s new album delivers their message of triumph over heartbreak with even more intense power. Frankly, Chasing Ghosts is set to blow the international doors wide open. Produced by Michael “Elvis" Baskette (Story of the Year, Falling In Reverse) and mixed by Will Putney (For Today, Upon a Burning Body), The Amity Affliction’s latest offering maximizes all of the strengths the band has long possessed while broadening the scope of their approach.
“Almost every element from our earlier work remains, but this is just a better record,” declares Ahren Stringer, a co-founding member who handles both bass duties and clean vocals in The Amity Affliction. “It is just heavy with huge choruses and huge breakdowns. We are all really stoked on it.”
Lead vocalist Joel Birch dives headfirst into issues of mortality, screaming his thoughts right from the opening track. Guitarist Troy Brady creates pulverizing but captivating riffs over the tastefully bombastic drumming of Ryan Burt, with Stringer weaving throughout both rhythmically and vocally as Birch soars above it all. “Joel has really meaningful lyrics that a lot of kids can relate to,” notes Stringer. “He sings a lot about depression. I know it helps a lot of kids.”
Chasing Ghosts deals primarily with death in general and suicide in particular. The first song on the album, the title track, sets the tone for what’s to come. “It is about a guy who had killed himself and realizes that there isn't anything there on the other side,” explains Stringer.
As Birch said himself about the album’s title track: "I wrote ‘Chasing Ghosts’ as a narrative based wholly around someone that has committed suicide and has passed onto the other side. It's a story that I hope people will see for what it is; an example in song of why you should turn to someone close and talk instead of taking that last fatal step towards death prematurely. I just want to reiterate to people that once you're gone, that's it. There's no ghosts. There's no heaven, no hell, just finality and the wreckage left behind in the wake of their decision."
“Open Letter” is an empowering rallying cry from the band to their fans. “I’m not searching for the sky for a reason to live ‘cause I found beauty right here and found passion to give,” the song declares. “Let me give you my heart/let me give you my fears/let me give you my life/Just so you can hold on and sing while I do/sing these words out loud.” It’s the essence of the band.
“Life Underground” follows suit with similar subject matter. The super catchy, super heavy “R.I.P. Bon” is about grieving. Like all Amity Affliction songs, the song’s title is almost entirely unrelated to its subject matter. “R.I.P. Bon” is named after Stringer’s late cat, which was named for AC/DC’s late singer. The stunning ballad “Pabst Blue Ribbon on Ice” takes its title from a line in a Lana Del Rey song. “I Heart H.C.” isn’t a reference to hardcore; it’s named after one of their favorite publicists.
“’I Heart H.C.’ of course has nothing to do with her,” Stringer notes. “It’s actually a song about religion. Joel is saying there is no afterlife; you don't come back from death. It is just basically saying there is no heaven so don't kill yourself thinking there is something better. This is it.”
These are sobering and strong viewpoints to be sure, but they are delivered with compassion, clarity and fist-pumping enthusiasm with an objective of saving people from falling into the depths of despair that has confronted so many young people and even some of the guys in the band. The Amity Affliction aims to connect with any listeners who may be in trouble in ways that no call center could. “It is always hard for kids to reach out to someone to talk to about their problems,” Stringer notes. “If they can just listen to our CD and read the lyrics, then I feel like we may have made a difference with what we are doing versus just singing about nothing important. Joel is really passionate about it because he has been through it all. I think it really does help kids who are too scared to reach out and talk to someone to enjoy the songs.”
Life can be extreme. One moment things are footloose and fancy-free, the next it’s all bleakness and despair. The most powerfully potent musical expression taps into this basic truth of the human experience. The Amity Affliction represents an electric, ear-shattering, mind-altering and altogether invigorating portrait of this dichotomy.
With an army of ardent supports assembled behind them in Australia and a groundswell building beneath them in the US, Europe and the rest of the world, there are no limits to the continued impact The Amity Affliction will have going forward. The perfect balance between delicious melodies, renegade riffs, monstrous breakdowns, serious subjects and hard-partying fun: The Amity Affliction.