Three parts British and one part American outfit As It Is are quite regularly labelled as a pop-punk band, and, while they do have their roots within the genre, it’s clear now that they’re pulling them emphatically out of the ground.
The quartet’s third LP ‘The Great Depression’ sees them embrace a darker, more direct sound across a concept album that sparks conversation on mental health, its societal perceptions and problems, while all tied together in a story-like narrative of a man “face to face with death.”
“Hello consumer” is the cynical greeting on the opening title-track, reminding us all of the price we pay for the lives that we’re designed to live.
Thematically, the album is far bolder and more thought-out than anything that’s come from As It Is before, with similar themes being conveyed across the triple-header of singles; ‘The Wounded World’ bemoans the deconstructive attitudes of our society, ‘The Fire, The Dark’ shows the decline of an abandoned love, while ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)’ targets a break in the cycle of negatively misrepresenting male emotions.
The thicker cut guitars and breakdown-heavy instrumentation on these tracks cement the band’s concentration on an emo, post-hardcore direction, while smidgens of pop-punk crop up in patches on ‘The Handwritten Letter’ and the supremely catchy ‘The Truth I’ll Never Tell’.
Frontman Patty Walters‘ vocals take a more raw, frantic tone across the record’s more robust tracks like the desperate ‘The Reaper’ and grand finale, ‘The End’. It’s a real step up from what we’ve heard from Walters before, and at times his gritty, gutturally screamed vocals shout his melancholic poetry like a warning from a man on the edge.
You also can’t discuss the vocals on this record without acknowledging that huge guest feature from Underoath‘s own Aaron Gillespie, which highlights both the emphatic change in direction and rise in status for the band.
‘The Great Depression’ is by far As It Is‘s best album, and not many will be able to argue with that. Important conversations about the romanticisation of poor mental health are conveyed perfectly, being both sincere and critical at the same time, all the while the album’s story is as engaging as its choruses are infectious.
It’s a record that’s every bit as clever as it thinks that it is, and marks a huge step in the career of As It Is.