As It Is – ‘The Great Depression’

By Renette van der Merwe

When As It Is returned with the first song since their 2017 sophomore album, it was pretty clear it wasn’t just their wardrobe that got made over. ‘Wounded World’ shone with potential, hinting at the shape the album would potentially take whilst showcasing a band on the precipice of taking a momentous leap forward by, in a sense, taking a step back.

What do we mean? Well, for fans of emo heartbreakers like The Used, Hawthorne Heights, Taking Back Sunday and, ahem, My Chemical Romance, ‘The Great Depression’ will evoke the nostalgia of chipped nail polish, studded belts and too much hairspray. Brimming with the sounds of ‘05, As It is have managed to pay homage to all who came before while refreshing the sound, making it their own and bringing it into 2018. Sure, we saw glimpses of that previously – especially on ‘okay.’ with songs like ‘Soap’ or ‘No Way Out’ – but by really leaning into the aggression and angst inspired by the greats who essentially moulded the scene, they’ve pulled together a phenomenal third album.

The Great Depression – a concept album centered around a figure known only as “The Poet” – starts off with the measured electro beat of the title track, which at first feels a little removed from the two singles released, but as soon as vocalist Patty Walters launches into a brilliant My Chem-esque chorus, it slots in with the rest of the album. It’s not the only tip of the hat to the Black Paraders either; ‘The Haunting’ bridge is reminiscent of songs from ‘Three Cheers to Sweet Revenge’. It’s not a lack of originality by any measure, but instead a respectful take on the music Walters himself had grown up with and cited as influential.

One of those influential bands being Underoath, who actually have a small part to play. Drummer and co-singer, Aaron Gillespie makes a guest appearance on ‘The Reaper’, lending his wonderfully intense vocals to the song. Musically, it’s already one of the strongest tracks on the album and this further elevates it to a sonic masterpiece.

In addition to a bolder and more exciting sound, the lyrical content is also flawless. It touches on heavier topics with such understanding and finesse that you feel drawn to “The Poet” and the difficult questions he faces and asks throughout, which is exactly what Walters was aiming for. “I definitely want people to hear this record and think hard about these issues generally and also how they specifically impact their lives.”

As It Is have definitely shown their bravado, but more than that, they’ve proven their capability of producing an album that’s catchy, powerful, and a serious contender for album of 2018.

RENETTE VAN DER MERWE

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