The Amity Affliction might be the luckiest band in metal history. When they debuted in 2008 with Severed Ties, their brand of emo pop-infused metalcore was derided and mocked by haters as an embarrassing trend we would all look back on in a few years with disgust. Cinderella. Crazy Town. The Amity Affliction. Am I right?
Cut to 2020 and emo pop-infused metalcore is the order of the day. Bring Me The Horizon have topped the charts, I Prevail have scored Grammy nominations and a endless list of soundalikes (Beartooth, We Came As Romans, Memphis May Fire) are jockeying for space in an overwhelmingly popular scene. Through it all, The Amity Affliction have remained largely unchanged, singing with the same righteous conviction they’ve had the whole time.
If Everyone Loves You… does one thing differently, it’s that it goes more extreme on both ends. The pop is poppier, the heavy is heavier. There’s a big market for this, but it may well send the metal purists into diabetic shock from the sugar rush.
Pre-release single “Soak Me In Bleach” demonstrates the change with a blend of br00tal beatdowns and crooning worthy of any Top 40 superstar. A shoutout of “ROCK” before the heaviest section reminds us that this is what metal sounds like in the new decade.
Other singles “All My Friends Are Dead” and “Catatonia” ramps up the heavy meter to levels The Amity Affliction haven’t reached before on previous releases. Joel Birch’s voice has never sounded stronger, though that might be the massive amount of autotune he puts into the clean sections. It’s cruel to stick “Catatonia” right at the end of the full album, because it’s probably the best thing on offer. In other places, The Amity Affliction surrender to their mainstream impulses. No one can fault them for this, it seems to be the cool thing at the moment, (see Bring Me The Horizon's latest) but it means we have to listen to “Aloneliness.” If the title didn’t make you want to fold inside yourself from secondhand cringe, its two-and-three-quarter minutes of Imagine Dragons by way of Justin Timberlake synthpop will have you scrambling for the skip button.
Don’t give up! The follow-up track to this crap is “Forever,”—The Amity Affliction at their best. The sweetness compliments the bitter and the song all shapes up into a great singalong metalcore song with a bouncy main riff and arena-worthy production.
Once again, purists will hate this, but they always did. The Amity Affliction aren’t interested in changing to impress people who never liked them in the first place. Just listen to “Baltimore Rain,” a song which flogs a refrain of “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” until it’s stuck in your head for days, while still keeping enough heavy riffs to make sure they are never called a “pop band.” They definitely aren't looking to impress the old guard.
Like Linkin Park’s first two albums, Everyone Loves You… is a great gateway record for young listeners still on the fence about all this screaming and growling stuff. Where the fault lies is in that it’s too angsty, not bold and not noteworthy enough to have the lasting impact that most gateway bands do. Everyone Loves You… is more like Linkin Park’s later material. Great fodder for new fans, but not enough to keep anyone but the die-hard old fanatics listening. The Amity Affliction are riding a high wave at the moment, bolstered by the success of a scene that have (at the very least) taken inspiration from Amity’s early work. But Everyone Loves You…Once You Leave Them isn’t a trendsetter. The Amity Affliction are just following the trend.