I am a music lover. Have been since a child. I am also a writer. Have been since I could hold a pencil in my hand and fortunately I can combine these two passions into one for Amplify the Noise.
Sometimes when listening to an album, EP, or song the words flow as if turning on a tap and sometimes the words are non existent and I’m left staring at a blinking cursor or erasing word after word that I have written. The words that flow make writing about music easy, but it’s the words that I struggle with that make writing about music needed.
As much as I would like to say, ‘great work, 5 stars’ or copy and paste the entire press release and feign it as my own, neither is far to the creator of the music. They poured blood, sweat, and tears into their art, their creation, who am I to just say great work even if it’s great.
I wavered back and forth on this review for The Amity Afflication’s album Not Without My Ghosts. As a fan of theirs, I couldn’t half ass it. As a fan of theirs, I also couldn’t write brutally great album and leave it at that even though it is a brutally great album.
What makes Not Without My Ghosts a brutally great album isn’t just the savagery of the music or the harsh in your face vocals. Sure, those two help, but Not Without My Ghosts is brutal because it’s seeded, sowed, and nurtured in heartache, pain, sorrow, and mental health.
One doesn’t listen to The Amity Affliction and expect rainbows and sunshine. One listens to The Amity Affliction and expects to hear the raw, visceral, and the painful truth of a reality that often sifts through the minds and lives of others. Most people will hide the truth, but The Amity Affliction has always had the courage and strength to show it be it through their lyrics or music.
There is a line in Macklemore’s song “Glorious” that I often think about when listening to The Amity Affliction. The line is, “We posted on the porch, my family’s glasses to the stars…”
Through their music, The Amity Affliction honours (raises their glasses) those they have lost, and I feel that it’s more than any other band I have ever listened to. They have lost ones through suicide or death, but for every soul that has ever touched their lives, they are honoured in Not Without My Ghosts.
That further adds to the brutality of Not Without My Ghosts.
The Amity Affliction isn’t just expressing feelings and emotions in the album, they are also creating tributes and memories for their ghosts. Allowing a new pathway to be forged and a catharsis to happen. Not only for themselves, but for those who haunt their memories.
While all of The Amity Affliction’s albums are personal, Not Without My Ghosts seems to be the most personal.
Joel Birch and Ahren Stringer are a dynamic vocal duo. Their voices are meant to be together, to compliment and to contrast. They are one of my favourite vocal duos in music. One minute you’re caught in the harsh crashing waves and the next you’re floating in the clean calm waters. There’s an understated beauty and calmness to their vocal ebb and flow and it is part of what makes The Amity Affliction stand out in the music scene.
Ahren, who also does double duty on bass, also provides the rhythmic foundation with a bass that is thunderous and sinister. That foundation allows drummer, Joe Longobardi, to assault the aural senses with blast beats that are monstrous, and guitarist, Dan Brown brings it all together with torrential guitar riffs that are sharp, shrewd and that absolutely crush one’s soul.
While Not Without My Ghosts should be listened to as a whole work of art and all 10 tracks are a must listen.
The tracks “Show Me Your God”, “I See Dead People” featuring the late Louie Knuxx, “When it Rains it Pours” featuring Landon Tewers, and “God Voice” are signature The Amity Affliction heavy. They’re luscious with masterful guitars, rich trembling bass, reverbating drums, and lyrics to lash one in the heart for days on ends.
The most ‘down-tempo song’, the title track and closing song, “Not Without My Ghosts” featuring Phem could essentially sum up the entire feeling of the album.
Joel said this about the song on the band’s Instagram,
I wrote this song to let myself and all of you know that despite what we carry behind us in our lives we have to carry on. I can do it. You can do it. This song is the reminder for all of us.
The Amity Affliction has created a cathartic masterpiece that frees, purges, and exorcises the demons within but all the while holding the memory of what was or could have been close to the heart and allowing that to inspire and move one forward.
Not Without My Ghosts is available now.
MUST LISTEN TRACKS: “Show Me Your God”, “Close to Me”, “Not Without My Ghosts”, “God’s Voice”
FAVOURITE TRACKS: “Fade Away”, “Show Me Your God”, “The Big Sleep”