As It Is have really stretched the limits musically in their recently released fourth studio album ‘I Went to Hell and Back.’ The Brighton pop-punkers have come a long, long way since their last record ‘The Great Depression’ in 2018, exploring themes of mental health and the current state of society – an emotionally heavy release to say the least. However, there is a definite sense of optimism in ‘I Went to Hell and Back’.

This is the first album since the amicable departures of rhythm guitarist Benjamin Langford-Biss and drummer Patrick Foley in 2019 and 2020 respectively. ‘I Went to Hell and Back’ successfully mixes the darker themes of ‘The Great Depression’ with the high-energy positivity of ‘Never Happy, Ever After’.

The album begins with ‘IDGAF’, which is a highly catchy and infectious number, which lets us know that the old As It Is is back in some shape or form. Even though the track discusses very personal themes in relation to Langford-Biss and Foley departing from the band, there is still an overriding sense of optimism here.

This is also particularly evident the pop-punk inspired songs ‘I LIE TO ME’ and ‘IDC, I CAN’T TAKE IT’, showing As It Is’s maturity both musically and professionally.

‘I’D RATHER DIE’ depicts vocalist Patty Walters at a fairly low point in the making of this album, singing ‘Can you take away the pain / Amputate my brain /Change the way I operate?’ The song is an interesting blend of emo filled lyrics and electronic synths that somehow happen to merge very well. Next up is the inevitable highlight of the album ‘I MISS 2003’, which references countless iconic emo/pop punk hits of the 2000’s including the likes of My Chemical Romance’s ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ and Simple Plan’s ‘Welcome to My Life’.

As It Is also change things up with ‘I’M SICK AND TIRED’, adding more of a post-hardcore element, showcasing Walter’s remarkable screaming ability. This heavier sound carries on into ‘I WANT TO SEE GOD’, following Walters urgent cries for help after his negative stance on religion.

‘IN THREES’ is the first collaboration on the album with help from Set It Off’s Cody Carson and SoundCloud rapper JordyPurp, creating a very memorable track which is certainly another highlight. ‘I HATE ME TOO’ explores the impact of negativity on the Internet, whereas ‘IM GONE’ and ‘I DIE 1000X’ both discuss Walters’ delicate and honest experience with mental health.

‘I CAN’T FEEL A THING’ is the second and last collaboration on the record, this time featuring American metalcore group The Word Alive. This track sees As It Is yet again pushing their musical boundaries by leaping into the metalcore scene, with the end result being extraordinarily great. The final track on the album is the emotional ‘I WENT TO HELL AND BACK’ which merges a subtle electronic beat with pop rock elements.

Overall, ‘I Went to Hell and Back’ is a highly diverse record, which truly shows that the band are more than capable of changing up their sound every now and again – a change which is definitely appreciated. This is definitely a compilation of songs that will certainly satisfy a lot of old-school As It Is fans, as well as surprise their much newer audience. They sound very confident in this record and that confidence well and truly shines bright throughout.

‘I Went to Hell and Back’ is out now via Fearless Records.

Verdict: 4/5

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