May 19, 2024

Australian rock band, The Amity Affliction, recently released “Misery.” They claim this is their best album yet, and it is certainty their most experimental. The biggest change in the new album from their previous ones is that Joel Birch is doing clean vocals alongside his screams. They also welcomed a new drummer, Joe Longobardi, after their previous one, Ryan Burt, left due to mental health reasons. Known for their anti-suicide message and their songs heavily centered around mental illness and suicide, the band encouraged Burt to tackle his mental demons in the safest form possible, even if it meant leaving the band.

Misery was released August 24, of 2018 and contains 12 new tracks. In order they are: “Ivy (Doomsday),” “Feels like I’m Dying,” “Holier than Deaven,” “Burn Alive,” “Misery,” “Kick Rocks,” “Black Cloud,” “D.I.E,” “Drag the Lake,” “Beltsville Blues,” “Set me Free” (also known as Nothing Left) and “The Gifthorse.”

“The Gifthorse” is a very unique song for a couple reasons. Birch dedicated it to Shane Collins, a close friend who recently committed suicide. The Gifthorse was Collins’ band’s name, and the song features lyrics from one of his songs, as a way to honor his legacy.

“There’s a message at the bottom of this bottle, and its calling out to me. There’s a message at the bottom of this bottle, saying I can set you free.” Birch posted on Facebook that he is not himself in the song and that it is unlikely it will be preformed live as it so sensitive.

“Set me Free” is another song with an interesting take for the band. Ahren Stringer is singing about wanting to bathe in God’s sunlight and asking heaven to take him. However, the song “Holier than Heaven” is anything but praise for God, which is normal for the band. The transition in song content lead me to believe that accepting religion is another theme in this album.

“Set me Free” also mentions ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles, specifically those of the brain and spinal cord. The song contains part of Lou Gehrig’s farewell to baseball speech: “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I’ve been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.” Perhaps as a reminder of how fragile life is and how quickly things can change for the worse, or better.

Overall, I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys rock music, is struggling with mental illness of any kind and anyone who is trying to understand depression and suicide. This band has been a huge influence on my own depression and has helped me cope with my thoughts. Their song “Drag the Lake” features a line I adore, “Nothing wrong with my depression, my sick and miserable obsession.”

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts I urge you to reach out to on campus counseling in Shouvlin or at 937-327-7946, the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1 800-273-8255, or to text 4HOPE to 741741 to have an anonymous text conversation with trained professionals. Stay safe and rock on Wittenberg!

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