Sound — 5
Hailing from Australia, The Amity Affliction has been one of the most successful metalcore bands hailing from the land Down Under in a genre where the vast majority of bands hail from North America. With support en masse from the Australia metalheads, TAA's last two albums, "Youngbloods" and "Chasing Ghosts," have both reached in the top ten of ARIA's music charts, with "Chasing Ghosts" even peaking at #1 - "Chasing Ghosts" would also fare well in the US Billboard charts, which would be the cause for TAA being added to the esteemed Vans Warped Tour in 2013. Although this would be a high point for TAA's career, it would also be a tragic moment, where frontman Joel Birch suffered a near-fatal seizure during the stretch of the tour. However, Birch would prove that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and after making his recovery and resuming his frontman duties for the remainder of the tour, he would also use that experience to begin writing new songs, which would result in TAA's fourth studio album, "Let the Ocean Take Me."
From the very start with "Pittsburgh," it seems that "Let the Ocean Take Me" is going to be the exact same song and dance as TAA's previous albums, but the further you go into the album, it's easy to note that this album sets itself apart from its predecessors by being the most electronic-oriented album TAA has made, and having the most production value - bringing in synths to counterbalance their djentrified metalcore sound and throwing in some post-production effects to give the vanilla breakdowns some more flavor. The piano riffs in "Don't Lean on Me," "Never Alone" and "FML" help give them a bit more dimension to make them a bit more than just run-of-the-mill, the usage of choirs in "Pittsburgh" and "Give It All" adds an extra level of intensity (although it can also be dismissed as sanctimonious, neither are mutually exclusive), and the production effort hits its peak with "The Weigh Down," utilizing just about everything in TAA's repertoire to create the prime cut of the album.
There are two key points that render this album meek, despite TAA's efforts to expand the sounds they provide. First, the standard metalcore formula is still intact and overused, so even when some tracks are teeming with a wide range of sound elements, the compositions on a fundamental level aren't much different from the other metalcore songs TAA have produced. Second, while this new knack for electronic-oriented sounds is a step forward for TAA's discography, in the grand scheme of things, it's nothing revolutionary. With several of TAA's peers having taken this stylistic direction years before, not only can it be said that "Let the Ocean Take Me" isn't doing any trailblazing, but it could also be said that TAA is considerably late to the party.
Lyrics — 4
Though TAA made a solid attempt for "Let the Ocean Take Me" to sound like something different in comparison to their previous album, the lyrics of the album end up being unambitious. With the dominant messages throughout the album being of anti-suicide and being strong in the face of struggle - both extrinsic and intrinsic - it's not only a common subject matter found in uplifting melodic metalcore, but Birch has always written lyrics about his struggles. In "Pittsburgh," he details the near-death experience he faced while on tour last year, and in "Never Alone," the standard uplifter uses a chilling voicemail in the outro where the speaker confides about his depression and loneliness. Those two songs manage to be the most lyrically compelling on the album, whereas the rest end up being unremarkable echo-chambers to the same subject matter. Metaphors of the ocean and drowning also frequently pop up throughout the album, though it comes off as simple repetition rather than a well-executed motif.
Overall Impression — 5
The way "Let the Ocean Take Me" works as a whole, it seems that its really only meant for those that are already TAA fans, because it's the group that would appreciate the tedious personal lyrics and the moderate expansion in their sound enough to deem it a good album. Within TAA's discography, it's a notable progress, but in the general world of metalcore, it's not breaking the mold. There may be a couple of solid tracks, but aside from that, this album won't be captivating the more eclectic metalheads or setting TAA ahead of the pack.