The Amity Affliction

Youngbloods

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Like many screamo outfits, Amity Affliction start off as Swedish melodic death metal rip-offs on Youngbloods, with tortured vocals, melodramatic riffs, tempo changes and all, but once they get it out of their systems -- which takes about 30 seconds -- they display some exquisite chops of their own, proving that they did not chart in Aussie (not Scandinavian) charts for nothing. The basic tools are the same, though -- a mix of inhuman screaming and emotive clean vocals, heavy post-hardcore riffs, plenty of background synth and guitar textures, and speedy tempos that grab the audience only to dump it head-on into slower sections where the building hysteria resolves into larger-than-life, angsty shoutfests, almost like U2 gone goth metal. Botching this sort of music is easier than getting cut juggling chainsaws -- overdose on histrionics, and you end up a sappy, self-pitying whiner; go heavy on musical extremism and, well, heaviness, and the whole thing winds up a loud, convoluted, and hookless lump of chugga-chugga riffs and pointless tempo shifts. But there is nothing pointless on Youngbloods, and the band's melodic savvy and good songwriting skills allow them to line up groove, emotion, and technical proficiency in such a way that they enhance each other -- which is the same as saying that the tunes are intense and elaborate, but also catchy (and, just as commendably, laconic). Hooks shrouded in layers of complexity indicate that at heart, Amity Affliction remain just a bunch of young men disappointed with the world and screaming for affection, but Youngbloods is not a nervous breakdown, but a controlled catharsis where the drama is captivating, not off-putting.

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