For every band that epitomises the notion that Heavy Metal music is the Devil’s brainchild, there are dozens more that have a positive message. That actually HELP through their lyrics and allow their fans to work through their problems through the eyes and voice of their idols.
Amity Affliction are one of those bands.
With their fourth album, ‘Let the Ocean Take Me’, Amity, and in particular vocalist and songwriter Joel Birch, have released perhaps their most personal and confronting album yet.
Through the album themes of hope and despair and suicide and self loathing appear regularly, but instead of glorifying these problems, Joel works through his own demons and in the process offers the chance of healing through music.
“All of our albums have dealt with similar issues,” Joel explained, “but on this one I dealt with my own shit alot more. The whole album is pretty much similar in terms of either directly or indirectly relating to anxiety and pressure and things I’ve been through and how I’ve come out the other side of it and how I’ve reacted at the time.”
With lyrics so personal and open, Joel understands the potential for listeners to interpret things in a way other than they were intended, and as such took the unusual step of penning an open letter which he posted on the bands website in relation to one of the songs on the album, ‘Don’t Lean on Me’
In part, the brutally honest, yet sensitive letter had this to say.
(Paraphrased) “During the course of Amity, suicide and self harm have been prevalent topics, all the way back to High Hopes. Music is my personal outlet, it gets me through a lot of problems within myself that I may or may not have been able to deal with otherwise, and likewise, it is the only language I understand when it comes to helping people get through life.”
It was a letter that was difficult to write, but one which Joel felt was necessary to connect on a deeper level with his fans.
“It was mainly to make sure people weren’t misconstruing what the song was about,” he stated.
“There was potential for people to take it the wrong way and react negatively to it so I thought we needed to put something out that explains what it means instead of people and the media speculating on line about what it was and maybe taking it as a ‘fuck you’ and that’s the last thing that I wanted to do. I am still getting feedback now and it came out over four months ago which is exactly what I was trying to do.”
The depth of the lyrical content extends to the cover booklet, only this time through pictures not sound. It revolves around a man standing on the edge of a cliff before leaping into the ocean and coming across a white dressed, presumably pure lady, into the ocean and ends with his return to the shoreline, wet, but seemingly unharmed.
“It does tell a bit of a story,” Joel agreed.
“It’s like the female represents the ocean – for me I write alot about the water and the ocean as well – so it’s just a visual representation full of metaphors and similes through the record. The man starts on the brink of suicide and then he fights back mentally from it by thinking about the positive things in life.”
Having recently completed a successful tour of Europe, Amity Affliction are now embarking on a tour of their home country before heading back to Europe in March/April for a run of shows with Of Mice and Men.
Joel says the band made significant headway on the overseas market on the tour, but still acknowledges the efforts of bands before them in helping Australian Metal Music be accepted in foreign countries.
“Our tour was really good,” he enthused. A lot of the shows sold out which is pretty wild when you’re from the other side of the world. It’s pretty rare. Bands like Parkway (Drive) have really opened the gate for other bands overseas; without them Australian Metal wouldn’t be as advanced over there as it is, definately not.”
Amity Affliction play the Union Jack Hotel in Cairns on Fri Jan 23, and The Venue in Townsville on Sat Jan 24 as part of their ‘The Weigh Down Under Tour’ supported by In Hearts Wake, Confession and Antagonist AD. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketek for the Townsville show, and the Jack website for the Cairns show.
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