If there’s one thing listeners should know about post-hardcore band The Amity Affliction’s fourth studio album Let the Ocean Take Me, it’s to brace themselves for an album ridden with lyrics of depression and despair. While I’m generally a believer of a combination of both heavy and light content, this album doesn’t necessarily require that balance. It has been stated that unclean vocalist Joel Birch took the reins in the writing of lyrics for this record based on a near-death experience during the 2013 Vans Warped Tour, where the vocalist suffered a seizure as a result of alcohol withdrawal. Despite the overall dark content of the album, it expresses the beginnings of a much lighter topic: recovery.
The album opener “Pittsburgh” follows through with the band’s recurring theme of suicide and depression. It seems that they use these themes as a cathartic release. I won’t go too much into this track as I previously reviewed it when it was released as a single.
Let the Ocean Take Me was again sampled through the release of the single “Don’t Lean On Me”, where the album’s title is revealed in the lyrics. This song is introduced by a beautiful and somewhat peaceful melody, but picks up with the screaming of “Let the ocean take me!” Shortly thereafter, the instrumentals speed up and prepare listeners for thirty seconds of super intense screaming, which eases into clean vocalist Ahren Stringer’s introduction in the chorus. The entire song goes back and forth between the much-needed darker screams and lighter vocals that both Birch and Stringer provide.
At this point, the lyrical content becomes more personal as it is an expression of how the pain of the band’s fans has taken an emotional toll on Birch: “Well don’t lean on me ’cause I am falling, please don’t fall with me/ I really need you here, yeah I need you so don’t leave/And don’t count on me ’cause I am drowning, please don’t drown with me/ Just hold me in your heart, let the ocean take me.” However, Birch embraces this bittersweet situation by ending with a plea for fans to stay alive and hopeful.
Headbangers, rejoice! The Amity Affliction made sure there was a song for you, too. “The Weigh Down” is not devoid of breakdowns and heavy screams that will make anyone want to start moshing alone in their room. While the lyrical content remains about depression, the band finds a way to make it, for lack of a better word, brutal. Percussionist Ryan Burt definitely shines through in this track as he manages to add that last bit of heaviness to ensure that the song truly makes for a headbanging hit.
The theme of the record transitions by the time “My Father’s Son” kicks in as it deals more with an exploration of Birch’s feelings than the actual despair. If there’s one therapeutic moment in this record, it certainly has to be this track. Birch comes to the realization that while he has been attempting to reject his father’s features within him, this has simply led him to be a reflection of his father: “All my life I have been trying to understand myself/It seems like my own reflection is just somebody else/It’s taken years to know my father courses through my veins/ And though I never knew him, it turns out we’re the same.”
The album comes to a close with the song “Give It All”, which connects back to the track “Don’t Lean On Me” as it states that the songwriting process is a two-way street between the fans and the band. It is important to note that the lyrics aren’t the only strong suit in this track. It provides listeners with just enough breakdowns, so that the track is heavy without sounding redundant. The real stars of the song have to be guitarists Troy Brady and Dan Brown. The guitar riffs in the song sound phenomenal and fit perfectly as they are both beautiful and dark. The record ends with a choir of children singing the chorus to “Give It All”, which becomes progressively quieter.
All in all, The Amity Affliction’s record Let the Ocean Take Me totally succeeds as a dark album. I won’t deny that I’m gonna need to take a break after listening to the emotional roller coaster of a record, but somehow I don’t mean that in a negative way. Let the Ocean Take Me is definitely a contender for my album of the year, so it’s safe to say that I recommend it to any post-hardcore fans.