As It Is - I WENT TO HELL AND BACK
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Release Date: February 4, 2022
Genre: Pop Punk, Emo, Post Hardcore, Pop Rock Label: Fearless Records
Later this week, the American-British pop-punk/pop-rock trio As It Is -which is made up of its core three members Patty Walters (vocalist and studio drummer), Alistair Testo (bassist and backing vocalist), and Ronnie Ish (guitarist and backing vocalist)- are back with their brooding, deeply personal fourth studio album, I WENT TO HELL AND BACK. Once again, the fourth album will be released through their longtime label Fearless Records. Additionally, the brand new album marks the first without longtime members Benjamin Langford-Biss (guitarist and vocalist) and Patrick Foley (drummer). I WENT TO HELL AND BACK's production was handled by music producer Zach Jones. Jones is best known for his work with POORSTACY, A Great Big World, and Thousand Below, to name a few.
I WENT TO HELL AND BACK was approximately written about the last two years of Walters' life and strongly inspired by the darkness and misery that has been put in place across the globe by the ongoing pandemic and how it affected him personally. It all resulted in the members of As It Is taking their distresses and beginning to wrestle with the world that has been thrown into lingering despair -still with no set end in sight. Walters and the rest of the band express their hardships, emotions, and everything in between with their exciting new album, which takes them into new and old familiarities with their sound and songwriting. I WENT TO HELL AND BACK doesn't stray far from the As It Is sound, but as the band displayed on their reimagined version of their previous album, The Great Depression, the band takes some small risks and experiments with some new styles yet to be heard within their songwriting repertoire.
The album's introspective lead single, "IDGAF," opens up I WENT TO HELL AND BACK with a swift kick in the face -in a spectacular way, of course. The track sets the tone for the rest of the album, providing an edgier and slightly heavier sound than before, with its passionate, near screaming vocals and heavy bass-riddled instruments. "IDGAF" is a catchy, dark adventure through frontman Patty Walters' psyche. "IDGAF" -as well as the remaining thirteen tracks- detail various aspects and times of Walters' mental state during the height of the pandemic. Walters' outlets of touring, volunteering, having conversations with his friends and strangers stopped abruptly. All resulted in his mental well-being deteriorating throughout the initial lockdowns. It is worth noting, to this day, Patty is doing much better with his mental health. Tracks three and four, "ILY, HOW ARE YOU?" and "IDC, I CAN'T TAKE IT," were first released as a collocating duel single and feature two drastically different sounds. "ILY, HOW ARE YOU?" takes the band into a more poppy direction, with a more upbeat message while still staying on theme. The biggest characteristic of the song is Walters' raspy clean vocals. Whereas, "IDC, I CAN'T TAKE IT" is an infectious number chock full of power chords and leaning more into the band's pop-rock side. The following track, "I'D RATHER DIE," is the album's most poppy musical piece yet. While still pushing the doom and gloom, "I'D RATHER DIE" gives off vibes of a Waterparks song. It's a great palate cleanser with its slower tempo, lo-fi style beat, and strong use of vocal effects.
"I MISS 2003" is the fifth single off I WENT TO HELL AND BACK and is undoubtedly a tremendous love letter to the early-2000s pop-punk scene and the bands that shaped As It Is. "I MISS 2003" begins with a lo-fi beat and the song continues to build to become a full-blown pop-punk piece. Within its immensely contagious lyrics, references to some of the greats of the genre, such as New Found Glory, Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance, Mest, All American Rejects, The Used, and Jimmy Eat World, are mentioned in no particular order.
Some of the heaviest songs As It Is has ever written can be found in both "I'M SICK AND TIRED" and "I WANT TO SEE GOD." First, "I'M SO SICK AND TIRED" veers into a post-hardcore style of heavy, while the latter continues in the same lane. However, "I WANT TO SEE GOD" is a much more fast-paced, intense, screamed track that slightly takes a more hardcore punk type of sound than "I'M SICK AND TIRED." It's a completely new approach for the band's music and something I would love to hear the band dabble with a bit more in the future. The single and album's ninth track, "IN THREES," is unlike anything else on, I WENT TO HELL AND BACK. In yet another surprise, "IN THREES" is a menacing, bass-heavy number that blurs the line between pop-rock and hip-hop. Additionally, it's the first track since the deluxe version of their debut album, Never Happy, Ever After, to feature an artist. Labelmate and Set It Off frontman Cody Carson and the up-and-coming artist JordyPurp lend their talents to take the track beyond comprehension.
With the winding down of the album, it closes out with some more remarkable tracks. "I DIE 1000X," "I CAN'T FEEL A THING," and its title track, "I WENT TO HELL AND BACK." The first of the three blends electronic beats, pop-rock, and pop-punk into a cohesive piece. The second, "I CAN'T FEEL A THING," is the biggest beast of the three. Featuring The Word Alive frontman Telle Smith, it's another near post-hardcore track, giving off their best nod to bands such as Bring Me The Horizon and the likes. The song also features a massive breakdown, unlike anything the band has ever done before. The final of the three tracks is the album's title track, and it takes things down with an emotional pop number that summarizes the entirety of the album into one song.
As It Is are well into a fulfilled career and has no end in their sight. The best years of As It Is are still ahead of them, and I WENT TO HELL AND BACK is that proof. As It Is has shown with their brand new fourteen-track album, they can still succeed without their former members contributing to their songwriting and has even pushed their music to new limits doing so. As It Is took personal hardships from the ongoing pandemic and pushed themselves to take their music to darker, edgier heights while still being upbeat sounding and providing catchy songs. While forcing themselves forward, Patty Walters' singing is unmatched to previous albums, with an insane depth of range from singing to full-fledged screaming. Ish and Testo also stepped up their game by putting their all into the tons of heavy-hitting guitars and bass heard throughout the entirety of I WENT TO HELL AND BACK. Notably, aforementioned briefly, Walters laid down the drums for the album in the recording studio, and for certain, he put his heart and soul into the album's core on all different levels. Make sure to pre-order or pre-save I WENT TO HELL AND BACK here, and to make sure to check out As It Is on tour in a city near you in the coming weeks and months.
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