I have to be honest and say that I didn’t really know what to expect when I went into this album. And to be even more honest, I wasn’t even thinking of the right band. I had confused The Amity Affliction for Being As An Ocean, so that should give you a pretty good idea of how familiar with band I actually am. However, their latest release, ‘Misery’ left me feeling anything but that, so let’s take a look at it together.
The album opens with ‘Ivy (Doomsday) and I’m immediately vibing with this album. It’s got a very Avenged Sevenfold—early 2000s vibe. It lives up to its namesake, ‘Misery’ straight from the first note. The mix between the melancholic rock and the electronic influences that are present during the chorus work together perfectly. ‘I was your Tuesday from the start.’ Is a particularly potent lyric, sardonic and full of longing for someone who clearly didn’t want to give them the time of day. Near the end of the song, it definitely has a BMTH feel, circa ‘That’s The Spirit’. The only criticism I have of this song is that it’s a smidge too long, after the electronic breakdown the song naturally lulls to an end, but it keeps going.
‘Feels Like I’m Dying’ is immediately more electronics inspired. The idea of the album becomes prominent straight from the first song. We’re introduced to our ‘protagonist’ in a sense. A bitter angry man after a breakup. ‘Cause there’s hell to pay, and I’m drowning in debt’. Is an interesting lyric—full of wit that I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting from this band. One of my favourite elements of this song is the pitch shifts—especially during the chorus the electronics goes higher and then immediately lower, and something about it is to pleasant to my ear.
‘Holier Than Heaven’ was, in my opinion, the strongest and best song on the album. It opens with much more atmospheric sound than was present on the first two opening tracks. The drums here take the lead, sounding soft and yet not muted. As a writer, and more predominantly as a poet, I always keep a keen ear when I listen to songs for the lyricism, and this album is peppered with lines that I like so much that I feel the need to pause the song and take a second to savour the writing, and this is apparent with this track: ‘is your god holier than mine?’ This is a sharp cutting track, calling out their ‘god’ for all of its hypocrisy—and questioning whether the devil is really such a bad alternative. This is the first track on the album that has a definite narrative structure to it, describing the fall (if you will) to hell, and detailing the weight of their own soul.
Something that I noted, especially on ‘Burn Alive’ is that the songs on this album that lean more towards electronic influences are, in my eyes, a mix of PVRIS, CHVRCHES and BMTH—but they don’t sound as though they’re copying those sounds, perhaps these bands were only the starting point. This song opens with an immensely cheerful guitar, and it definitely offers an interesting juxtaposition, given the name of the song.
When we come onto the album’s namesake ‘Misery’, the guitar here is melancholy, insistent and dramatic. ‘I’ve seen the future/Where I don’t wanna die’. Though up to this point I’ve been enjoying the blend of electronic and post hardcore sound, I’m not sure it works on this track, especially during the chorus, and for that reason, it’s probably my least favourite. The instrumentals are so intricate during the verses that it seems almost like a waste to throw in an entirely electronic chorus—it’s very Fall Out Boy, but not in a complementary way, more of a ‘Young and Menace’ way. The garbled vocal effect doesn’t really add anything in terms of the songs musical composition, and as it’s a style that isn’t prominent during the rest of the album—it seems like a strange creative decision, to say the least.
The drums here open up ‘Kick Rocks’, and though the guitars are a joy to listen to, it’s nice to hear a more stripped back sound. The swing to the screaming vocals during the chorus is something that I’m not sure works with the gentle vocal style during the verses. I love the keyboard near the end of the song, it’s very fitting with the tone of the song. This is definitely one of the weaker tracks on the record, given the strength of the rest of the tracks, this one feels a little bland and maybe a little forgettable.
Skipping forward a song you find, ‘D.I.E’ which opens up with a very mystical sound. This song is gaping, loneliness seeps from its every pore. The description of a life lived in solitude, though perhaps not by choice is pertinent. This is definitely one of the more fast tracked songs on the record. It’s morbid but it doesn’t change the tone of the album. The guitar riff about halfway through is beautiful.
‘Set Me Free’ is another great song. This album, without too many pretty words, is just an incredibly solid album. Though the weaker songs are definitely ones that can be skipped without too much thought—the rest of the album stands just as well on its own without them. ‘Oh god I’m alone again’, there’s something so despairing about this lyric; something so heart wrenching about the realisation of being alone, but not only about being alone, but more of thinking that they were past those feelings and yet still feeling them.
The album’s closing track is ‘The Gifthorse’. One of the most interesting things about this album is that there’s a distinctive lack of hope. In terms of lyricism—this closing song has no salvation, no happy ending—it just is sadness, a black hole of emptiness. It’s an interesting subversion of a narrative structure, where our ‘protagonist’ doesn’t find peace, just finds more problems, more things to cause restless nights. ‘There’s a message at the bottom of this bottle’, and though the album doesn’t end on the happiest of notes—‘The Gifthorse’ is a beautifully composed song full of desperation.
This album reminds me of when I was first getting into alternative music, and a lot of what I listened to came from my sister, so anything from Creed to Tool—y’know those bands where their lyricism drips with angst. This album definitely has that kind of over dramatic lyricism, but I can’t bring myself to dislike it. The songs are so well put together that you can kind of overlook the emo drenched lyrics and enjoy it for what it is. This album is a mix of old and new. It’s got a definite trip down memory lane—but it balances the new elements beautifully, bringing a fresh, unique sound. Though it most certainly lives up to its namesake of ‘Misery’, it is not miserable.
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