A return to form is something that few bands actually deliver on when they say that they are returning to previous material. We luckily got to see it with bands such as We Came as Romans with Cold Like War, Like Moths to Flames with their most recent EP Where the Light Refuses to Go, and even somewhat with Crown the Empire on Sudden Sky. (this one is more of a stretch, but my mind was drawing a blank.) One band that fans have been pining for a return to form is The Amity Affliction. The Australian metalcore juggernauts have taken a bit of a detour over the past couple of years, releasing This Could Be Heartbreak to mixed reviews (the most notable similarity between reviews being that the album sounded too similar to older material), and followed that up by dropping Misery, an 80’s synth-influenced take on metalcore, which also received mixed reviews. If the band cannot create the same material over and over again, and people do not want to hear the new spin on their music, what does the band do in order to combat this dilemma? They take it back even further; the one request fans have had since Amity’s early days while retaining key elements from new songs that the band felt inspired by. The result? Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them: a top 3 Amity album at minimum, and at the moment, my personal favorite.
“Coffin” starts the album; a two-minute introduction to what is ahead is simplified as best as the band can convey this record’s theme; it will remain dark (like previous Amity material), there will not be a lot of hope, and the lyrical topics will stay heavy-hearted. Joel Birch’s screaming performance on this track is also a good indicator of the overall objective quality of the music; the band did not waste any of their resources while creating ELYOYLT. The addition of Defeater drummer Joe Longobardi is a presence that is also felt most evidently in the next track, “All My Friends Are Dead”, which was released last year as TAA’s introduction to Pure Noise Records. This particular track is so hard-hitting that it takes you by surprise, but don’t you worry – the break for the chorus is a little sigh of relief. (Even if you are not a fan of Ahren Stringer’s choruses, the man can write a catchy melody.) The weakest part of the song IS the chorus, and the chorus is one of the better-written ones in terms of musical progression on the album, so this is a good sign for the entirety ELYOYLT. “Soak Me in Bleach” is the next track and my least favorite on the album. This is the typical repeated-lyrics song and mantra-chorus track that makes you want to listen to dog whistles until you develop tinnitus. The writing in this song is lazy and uninspired, and the lyrics are some of the worst that Amity has ever had. This song is the sole reason the total grade of the record gets knocked down a peg.
“All I Do Is Sink” redeems the pacing of the record with a simple beat being utilized to the fullest – Birch and Stringer really flex their performance with a mixture between soft singing and powerful belting in the chorus. “Baltimore Rain” follows up the fourth track on the record and has one of the catchiest choruses on the entire album (which has never been TAA’s weakness), but the bridge is the true highlight of this song, leading into an awesome breakdown that includes a solo. The song ends and leads into “Aloneliness”, which takes an interesting path from previous songs on the album. Primarily featuring Stringer’s signature singing along with some clean vocals from Birch, the song is a good comparative to something off of Misery, leaning more into the pop sensibilities the band has picked up over the course of their career.
“Forever” starts with pitched screams from Birch and a blazing instrumental, and leads into another epic chorus. Unfortunately, this song feels pretty forgettable in the tracklisting; there is not any specific reason why, but it feels like a filler song. “Just Like Me” suffers from the same problem; the whistling in the background is reminiscent of a Top 40 alternative track, but this particular tune has some screams in it. This song felt pretty shoehorned in the end; maybe this is the band’s attempt at commercial airplay in Australia. “Born to Lose” follows with a heavy-as-balls introduction, only to return to a subdued instrumental headlined by Ahren Stringer. Luckily, while the previous tracks suffered from build-up but no climactic moments, Birch’s screams accompanied by punishing instruments is enough to satisfy after a period of time without them.
“Fever Dream” is my favorite song on the album; while I may contradict myself by liking it for the heavy pop influences, Stringer’s voice shines best on this song and I believe the best lyrics also reside here; outside of the chorus, not much repetition exists on this track and it just hit me as a deeply personal track. “Catatonia”, as an album closer, is not all that wise of a choice, but as a song itself, it absolutely decimated the headphones upon first listen; if you have to end the album on a high note, be sure to leave it in blazing glory, I guess.
Will I say that Amity returned to form here? Not really – heaviness has been present on every one of their albums whether people want to accept it or not. The band has finally progressed, and while I think they still have some more kinks to iron out to create an album on the level of Chasing Ghosts or Let the Ocean Take Me, their newly-implemented elements need to be refined big time. Bands have dealt with alienating fans by “selling out” more than enough times, and Amity runs the risk of doing that here (if enough people check out the album). Despite the adversity that Amity is running with here, I think there is something on this album to make everybody happy… or sad, depending on how you want to look at their music.
I give Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them an 8.0 out of 10.
If you want to get a feel for the album but do not want to listen to the entire thing, listen to “All My Friends Are Dead”, “Baltimore Rain”, and “Fever Dream”.
Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them is available on streaming services and digital retailers NOW via Pure Noise Records.
“All My Friends Are Dead”
“Soak Me in Bleach”
“All I Do Is Sink”
“Just Like Me”
“Born to Lose”