With five albums that mix metalcore brutality with pop-inspired melodies, The Amity Affliction have become one of Australia’s most popular heavy music acts. When it came time for record number six, however, they were ready to make some changes. “We wanted to reduce the screaming and make darker music,” Birch says. “We wanted to push the electronic elements to the front.” Their metallic crunch and hardcore breakdowns are still in play, but electro-funk brightens up “Burn Alive,” vocoders enhance the title track and the synth flourishes of “Feels Like I’m Dying” prove they have outgrown the metalcore tag. There is not a lot of catharsis or relief to be found on the album, which Birch has barely been able to bring himself to listen to from front to back. Wrenching closing track “The Gifthorse” is dedicated to a friend of Birch’s who died by suicide earlier this year, a tragedy he is still struggling to reconcile. “It’s sort of a kick in the teeth emotionally,” he says. “But I think that’s the sign of something good, something honest.”

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