AFI, ‘AFI (The Blood Album)’ – Album Review
Time flies! It's hard to believe that AFI are now ten albums into their music career. At a point where you typically start to see some sag in the quality of what most veteran bands put out, AFI continue to thrive and appear to be on an uptick in their career.
The band's latest is a self-titled release with the subtitle The Blood Album, and it's appropriate as you can feel the blood, sweat and tears all over this new collection as they take you on a journey, working in elements of punk, darkwave and straight-forward rock into a solid top-to-bottom listen. As guitarist Jade Puget recently told us, he and Davey Havok wrote upwards of 60 songs before paring it down to the 14 we hear on The Blood Album, which allows for the band to adhere to the "all killer no filler" vibe. Puget also took control of the production of the album with an assist from Matt Hyde, and he was insistent on delivering a full album experience. "People are always talking about the album is something people can consume. They just want to hear songs and the album is going to go away," Puget recently told us. "I don't see it happening and even if it did happen, I don’t care. I would be the last band to still put out records."
Aside from the synth-overloaded opener "Dark Snow," we're all in on this disc. "Still a Stranger" starts the build, with an opening acoustic vibe turning into a faster-paced, driving rocker with Havok's angsty vocals demanding your attention by the end of the song. Fans are likely familiar with the moody, churning rocker "Aurelia," one of the catchier moments on the disc that begs the listener to sing along. "Aurelia" is followed by the equally stellar "Hidden Knives," an upbeat emo-ish rocker that would have felt just as at home in Jimmy Eat World's catalog. Keeping the vibe of the disc going, "Get Hurt" stays in the same vein, as Havok reveals an emotional vulnerability singing, "I can't let you see me."
The back half of the album is equally as impressive, with the defiant "So Beneath You" and revved up "Dumb Kids" offering more of a punk feel. "Pink Eyes" may be the most schizophrenic track on the disc, with Hunter Burgan's killer bass line, minor usage of haunting piano keys and a pacing that is moody in moments while energetic in other parts. The reflective "Feed From the Floor" as well as the current hit "Snow Cats" and emotionally heavy "White Offerings" are also among the album standouts.
Rather than ending on a whimper, they close out strong with "She Speaks the Language," a darker, moodier track that looks at love from almost the mechanical approach of a neophyte, and the plodding, yet triumphant "The Wind That Carries Me Away" that ends with a resounding yet fading echo.
With the Havok and Puget stepping out into the electronic-leaning Blaqk Audio and hardcore XTRMST in recent years, it's evident that the creative process is thriving more than ever between the prolific pair, and the ability to scratch those itches appears to just have motivated the duo all the more when they return to AFI. With The Blood Album, you find AFI as a well oiled machine, but one that is fully engaged with every aspect of what they're delivering.
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