The Blood Album
It's been four years since the last AFI record and with AFI (The Blood Album) one of the most important figures in the post punk world have reached that landmark tenth studio release. Their last release Burials garnered a relatively positive reaction, but since the band wrapped up the tour in support of it they have been exceedingly quiet. Rumblings towards the end of last year indicated that this new album was on its way and as you would expect with any band of their level of reputation the hype train picked up full speed incredibly quickly. Some have been negative of AFI since they've taken a 'softer' approach in recent years - many tapped out after Sing The Sorrow for their harsh shift change in their general sound, so where does this one sit?
Well on Burials the band ramped up the eighties style of post punk, grabbing influences from Morrissey to Gary Numan especially in Davey Havok's vocals and lyrics. Davey Havok's vocal style has developed a lot since the band's inception in 1991, and whilst many of you who only like their older stuff will tut and shake your fist in inane fury at the following point, in our honest belief it's the most mature and best he's ever sounded. His delivery is layered with emotion and subtle power, drawing you in far better than many of his peers within the same field.
The best thing about this new record is the fact that AFI have decided to build on the approach taken on Burials, blending it together with some elements from their older material. Tracks like Above The Bridge and White Offerings show that the band are still more than capable of writing those huge chant along punk choruses with Havok showing he still has that bite, particularly on the latter of those two. The band are joining Deftones on tour later this year, and whilst their sound on the whole is very different there is a clear correlation in the way that AFI are able to make each album completely different and unique.
Looking at some of the more negative aspects of this album, it is perhaps a bit too long. At fourteen tracks you do find yourself skipping through a lot of filler moments. And whilst they have pulled little bits and pieces from across their back catalogue here, it does sometimes push you in to reaching for some of their older records which is obviously counter-productive to a point.
Overall then, this is a strong AFI record indeed. Burials was met with some very mixed reviews but it feels like with this album the band will pull a lot of people back. It doesn't swerve 180 back in the direction of some of the records many cite as their best but if you expected that you probably shouldn't have bothered at all. We look forward to hearing some of these tracks live where we anticipate they'll take on a whole new grandiose lease of life.