Australian post-hardcore act The Amity Affliction’s last two releases, Youngbloods and Severed Ties, were albums that scratched the surface of greatness but never quite reached it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love on both releases, but at times, the band would ridiculously devolve into genericore. With Chasing Ghosts – the band’s third release – however, The Amity Affliction have eliminated a lot of their past problems. There are some minor missteps (such as needlessly applying auto-tuned harmonies to Ahren Stringer’s already fantastic voice), but Chasing Ghosts is definitely the band’s biggest achievement so far, especially in the lyrics department.
Chasing Ghosts seems to serve as the band’s answer to the increase in teen suicides as of late, and each track seems to at least touch on the subject of death. Prevalent throughout the album is also the message of living your life to the fullest because, well, it’s the only life you’re ever going to get. In addition to being a sentiment that I agree with on a personal level, Chasing Ghosts adds just the right amount of emotion to make it the band’s most personal work to date. I found myself getting more and more attached to the album with each subsequent listen.
“Chasing Ghosts,” which serves as both the album opener and the title track, is a clear indicator of a tighter band altogether. Joel Birch’s screams have improved so much since the early days of Severed Ties; it’s almost hard to believe it’s the same vocalist. Stringer’s clean vocals are just as good as ever (even with the rather annoying auto-tune), which is made abundantly clear in the first 30 seconds of “Life Underground,” one of the album’s strongest tracks. Birch and Stringer mix together well here, and the musicianship is tight and well-executed.
“Open Letter,” which contains some of the best lyrics on the entire album (“I’m not searching the sky, for a reason to live/’Cause I found beauty right here, and the passion to give”), is another big highlight. Stringer’s vocals are also exceptionally good here, especially in the track’s catchy and emotional chorus. ”Greens Avenue” has a solid groove to it, and includes a headbanger of a breakdown. The track also contains a healthy amount of changes, and guitarists Troy Brady and Imran Siddiqi really show off their chops here. “I Heart H.C.” is another one of the album’s strongest tracks, complete with anti-God and anti-suicide lyrics. “So when you leave this earth, when your heart stops you’ll see/There’s no choir of angels, there’s no gods to meet.”
Chasing Ghosts is, without a doubt, the band’s best release to date. Do they have more in them? Absolutely, and with this album, it’s clear they’re on the path to crafting their masterpiece. But Amity fans should have no problem connecting with this album, and for the band to evolve their sound so much in such a relatively small amount of time is incredible. Chasing Ghosts is nothing groundbreaking, at least musically, but the album’s stunning emotional center will keep it high on my playlist for the foreseeable future.