The Amity Affliction is back and ready to drop their new album Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them on Friday February 21, 2020. This release is exceptionally exciting as it marks a change to Pure Noise Records and the implication of a return to the heavier roots of the band. The album also comes with the group fresh off their 2018 release of Misery and their song “Drag the Lake” still getting pretty consistent radio play, right up to the point that “All My Friends Are Dead” surfaced.
As a whole, this album lands with me. There is a lot of dark imagery. What has always drawn me to The Amity Affliction is the trade-off between two styles: solid and engaging clean vocals and the back and forth with the heavy, dark screams that resonate. There is a lot more dark and painful imagery throughout this effort. The subject matter is deep and like so many other albums in the genre, it is about mental health. Joel Birch, the band’s heavy vocalist, was recently diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Much of the symbolism is about struggles with coming to terms, and combating, mental illness. The band owns that some of these themes are dark and not something they would usually incorporate, but it adds to the depth and power of this record in a big way.
The opening track, “Coffin,” follows the trend of short, filler intros in today’s metal scene but serves a deeper purpose than most. It’s short, sweet and heavy as hell. For a band that has been criticized about their evolution, leaving their heavier roots and opting for more electronic and pop elements on their last album, “Coffin” sends a message that the band hasn’t forgotten how to bring the walls down. The chilling melody in the background sounds like something straight out of a Halloween movie, adding an extra element to the madness. This track definitely sets up what is to follow on this album.
“All My Friends Are Dead” was the band’s first pre-release off the album and is the heaviest single from them since “Pittsburgh” in 2014. It follows the formula that has made The Amity Affliction successful: very heavy verses with distorted vocals and simply amazing drum work that steals the show followed by a wide open, haunting yet catchy chorus with clean vocals and group harmonies. “Soak Me in Bleach,” the second pre-released single, is a little slower and has a cool back and forth. The verses are split between a melodic flow and heavy growl with the chorus line pushing dueling clean and heavy vocals. The track showcases the broad appeal Misery possesses, but definitely feels heavier than its predecessor.
“All I Do is Sink” is a really enjoyable song. The vocals are heavy but the background is airy and melodic. It opens up into an a cappella transition for the chorus where the roles reverse, making the music heavy and the vocals clean. “Baltimore Rain” has a nod to the electronic riffs and outputs from a few of the band’s previous records, layered with heavy riffs on guitar and bass, particularly in the chorus. Speaking of the chorus, it is one of the more lively and catchy ones on the effort. The round-style bridge leads into an intense, heavy breakdown and guitar solo.
“Aloneliness” is a big departure from the first half of the album. It is VERY catchy with a poppy chorus line that is layered throughout over a basic drum line with keyboard at the beginning of each stanza. It’s a palate cleanser for the middle of an album that’s been extremely heavy up to this point and doesn’t feel out of place, operating as a great transition. “Forever” follows up nicely and I can see this track making waves as a single with legit star power. It has a strong, driving beat that moves the song, and though there are heavy moments, it possesses a larger appeal while highlighting the clean, melodic vocals.
“Just Like Me” uses a mix of the band’s sounds over the years with electronic, poppy elements at times. The whistle in the background is a nice touch. The track is layered with unclean and electronic distorted vocals. During one segment, the song is carried by harmonic a cappella in the background. It reminds me of a lot of the things I Prevail did on Trauma. “Born to Lose” follows with a heavy intro that opens up into an emotional track that is passive at times and explodes into a powerful, heavy breakdown. This track is chock-full of tangible sensation. It has become one of my favorites on the release, but the first time I listened it was hard to get through due to the raw emotion. This one hits the feels.
“Fever Dream” is another track I can see taking off. It bounces back and forth between slow and melodic verses, heavy and dark. It potentially has the catchiest chorus on the album and a guitar solo that lights the whole thing on fire with the end of the song building into the album’s final track.
“Catatonia” is undeniably epic and easily my favorite track on the album. It’s heavy as hell. It’s raw and emotional. The song is written about a friend of the band who took his own life around the time Misery was wrapping up. This song embodies the tone of the album, the pain and a cry for help. It is relatable on every level. Even without the message the song is so well done, so dark and so painful. It all lets up into a quiet, silent resolution that feels like a light at the end of the tunnel. Then it stops.
Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them is as powerful as it gets. Maybe it’s because I had an advance copy and read what the band was thinking when they approached the record. Maybe it’s because the music is dark, heavy and speaks to me. Maybe I paid closer attention to the meaning and symbolism. Regardless of why, this album hits me hard. Every track stands out for a different reason. I’ve always been a fan of The Amity Affliction, but Everyone Loves You… Once You Leave Them is on a different level. Do not miss this record when it drops on Friday.