Album Review // THE AMITY AFFLICTION ‘Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them’
The Amity Affliction talk death, mental illness, loneliness and dreams in their heaviest album to date.
Let’s talk about death. What kind of death? Who’s death? Why death? You’ll get the answers soon, but for that we’ll also have to talk about mental illness, as the two themes are closely related and often come up together when we refer to young generations in general and lately increasingly more to upcoming and well-established artists alike. Speaking of which, why don’t we talk about hopes and dreams too. After all they are the first step, northern star and final destination for anyone pursuing an artistic career, unaware or maybe too young, naïve and fuelled with the fire of passion to notice the closing shadows of the emotional and mental struggles that will follow them along the way.
The Amity Affliction take these themes very seriously in their seventh album Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them and look at them from all the angles, exploring a plethora of nuances. Song by song, the album tells a different story, inspired by the pain from the previous one and digging deeper into its cause and meaning.
The album starts with Coffin, a short yet lyrically ambiguous and sonically mystical song which shares a premonition for the death of dreams – it seems it was fated from the very beginning. All My Friends Are Dead expands on this cruel end, with a heavier sound and drawing an apocalyptic picture of a world on the verge of destruction where one is abandoned and has to face everything alone. Soak Me In Bleach tones the rhythm down a bit in the beginning as it shifts its attention at the album’s ‘hero’, who’s overwhelmed by agony and exhausted from trying to escape it, to the point of wishing to disappear. The song becomes progressively heavier as it dives into the feeling of despair, sprung by the unending and futile effort to flee from the pain.
All I Do Is Sink comes as an antithesis to the previous picture of the burning world. The song contrasts with the previous ones as the chorus becomes less aggressive and more musical, while the rest of the songs develops in the opposite direction. While it still holds its attention pointed at the ‘hero’, it changes the perspective on their loneliness and accentuates its absurdity.
Baltimore Rain finally sheds the mystical and dramatic storytelling style in favour of a more relatable plot taking place in modern times, where the ‘hero’ can be any one of us feeling overwhelmed by problems, living without direction and dreaming of being free of all this hurt inside. Aloneliness twists things up a bit, finding bliss in loneliness and associating it with the most desired freedom. Both songs give up on the metalcore vocals and heavy instrumental in favour or an increasingly more melodic rock sound, however Forever brings them back into the mix, just as the mood changes again. Slowly shaking off the contemplative tendencies, this song opens up about the one positive feeling that manages to shine through the darkness and that will stand the test of time: love. This is probably the most innocent and, dare I say, positive song on the album.
From here on, hurt returns to the forefront, as Just Like Me is looking for companionship in this journey through pain. In turn, it is offering compassion and a chance for freedom to the fellow traveller, as the hero has lost all hope for himself and accepted his fate. Born To Lose however shows a different view on this acceptance – while the hero has come to terms with the fact that he’s essentially doomed, he’s not welcome anyone’s scrutiny and twisted interpretation or advice.
Fever Dream brings back the symbol filled lyrical style, the fiery instrumental and the themes from the beginning of the album, only now the hero denies its reality and is now overwhelmed by the fear of dying alone. Catatonia completes the circle, as its musical style is very similar to Coffin and it embraces the undeniable death while taking head on, almost defying the perpetual hopeless struggles bound to face over and over again. Our hero acknowledges his condition, embraces the fear and is determined to keep on fighting, hopeful that he can reach happiness…with a bit of support.
Overall, the album’s put forward quite an intriguing concept, governed by cyclicity, which is implemented in its every aspect, from message to sound. It talks about the most pressing issues that today’s artists face and paints a comprehensive picture on what it means to suffer from mental illness, circling through surreal and relatable representations. I think that the best thing about this album is the way it manages to condense so many themes and feelings and sounds together, through individually remarkable songs that ultimately fit perfectly together, like pieces of a puzzle.