The Amity Affliction
This Could Be Heartbreak
In very much the generic Nickelback fashion, sometimes the blatant repetition of a sound that’s proven to work isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’s proven to somehow maintain fandom and success, but album after redundant album, it does tend to get boring. Unfortunately, that is the case with The Amity Affliction’s latest release This Could Be Heartbreak.
There comes a point where lyrically things can get overwhelming. In the case of This Could Be Heartbreak, the sophistication that went into their prior record, Let The Ocean Take Me, is lost due to more cut and dry, base lyricism and a cliché music structure broken up between chorus/verse structure and generic divisions of clean and unclean vocals. There’s nothing new here, but it’s still very Amity Affliction in the sense that nothing on the record is inherently bad. It’s just objectively boring in succession and does nothing to challenge the listener.
The record opens with bells ringing and the sound of a torrential downpour before diving into the actual music. Once again fans are given poppy choruses with extremely depressing lyrics and even more metaphors about H2O. “Are you living in a nightmare? One that eats away your soul? Does it leave you feeling empty? Does it leave you feeling cold?” clean vocalist Ahren Stringer asks on “Nightmare,” setting the overall tone for the majority of the record. And yet, as the tone of the record is held under the shade of a solemn umbrella (blocking out all the rain that’s metaphorically crashing down on the band), the majority of the tracks tend to be as upbeat, especially on the clean vocal choruses, as early Blink-182 records.
In fact, the most impressive part of the entire record is how unbelievably upbeat the title track is while containing some of the most melancholy lyrics on the record. I’m sitting here bobbing my head with this track on repeat ready to get up and dance to lyrics that say “Our hearts start to bleed as our eyes, they become wells” and honestly, this is the best, most memorable track musically on the entire fucking album. Even lyrically, it’s darkly beautiful. However, melancholy and danceable choruses are just two components that shouldn’t be together, ever. And yet are. “Our tears become rivers swimming in our own private hell,” continues the chorus. God, there is so much water imagery.
This strange pop punk vibe of the title track resurfaces throughout the rest of the record, though “All Fucked Up” takes the cake. In what sounds like the most soothing suicide note published in 2016, this self-deprecating number takes a step away from heavy breakdowns in place of poppy acoustic moments asking listeners to join in on how entirely fucked up everyone is. Literally. “Because the truth is that I’m all fucked up like you/yeah we’re all fucked up it’s true.” It’s so cringe-worthy.
While I do appreciate the guitar solo featured on “I Bring The Weather With Me,” the continued use of group vocals on bridges and the emotion added to the end interlude on “OMGIMY,” these moments are not enough to make this record stand out in a crowd of static metalcore playlists. “Fight My Regret” and “Blood In My Mouth” feel like B-sides to their previous releases while every track apart from the title track feels forced and not up to par with Amity’s prior collection of songs. The band played it safe on this record, and unfortunately it shows. (Natasha Van Duser)