Review Summary: An aggressive punk album with plenty of energy.
Whatever you define punk as; it is almost guaranteed that your definition fits the sound of Black Sails in the Sunset. Its not classic punk, both in the sense that its not of a perfect score and that its not of the same style of bands like The Clash, but on AFI's 1999 release they certainly create some sort of punk music. Black Sails in the Sunset is fierce, fast, emotional, and kick-ass all in one. It is full of energy that is present during every single song in one way or the other and most definitely in lead singer Davey Havoks wailing voice that is by no means afraid to stretch its limits. This record is certainly one of AFI's greater releases and marks the beginning of their success in mainstream music, and this is of no surprise for it is truly an excellent modern punk album. Black Sails in the Sunset stays consistently aggressive throughout and only in very few occasions does it lack in any specific areas. In general, AFI created an energetic and just plain awesome album.
After the album starts out with a rather unimpressive intro, Strength Through Wounding, which is basically one minute of chanting, Black Sails in the Sunset explodes with energy and ferocity. Porphyria Cutanea Tardo is what someone may be looking for in AFI. Its a fast song with a rumbling bass and speedy power chords. Most noticeable is Davey Havoks unique vocals. Wailing in a high pitched voice, he takes lead of the song with energy and emotion. Unfortunately, his vocals tend to take a while to get used to for they could be considered irritating, but many will find them great. Songs such as Narrative Of Soul Against Soul and Exsanguination continue in the same vein as Porphyria as fast, energetic punk songs that are catchy but not so much that they could be called pop punk. One of the things that makes these songs so awesome and energetic is the bands tendency to group sing or shout at different places; always at appropriate times. Also, the bass playing is phenomenal and stands out just as much as the speedy drums and guitar. Fast songs like Malleus Maleficarum are really great, though after a while AFI needs to badly throw a change up during the first half of the album.
Black Sails in the Sunsets finds its first change of pace with the 5th song, Clove Smoke Catharsis. On this slow ballad like track we hear Hovak sing in a more normal and deeper style that is appropriate along side the more haunting music. Clove Smoke Catharsis moves into a beautiful chorus that shows AFI are great with slow songs as well as fast. Also, the lyrics, which are very serious rather than silly, are wonderful on this song as well as all of the others. As soon as this beautiful punk ballad ends, the album goes right back into the fast songs. The Prayer Position sounds more aggressive than songs earlier on Black Sails in the Sunset, and other tracks like The Last Kiss continue to impress. But now we come to the major flaw in Black Sails in the Sunset. Although this album is amazingly consistent, by the end of it with Weathered Tome and At a Glance, the listener should have really had enough of these fast punky songs. Neither of these two tracks bring any thing new or exciting and they could be described as filler especially with very little lead guitar or solos for that matter. Though overall, Black Sails in the Sunsets songs are all enjoyable and each somewhat different.
Thankfully, God Called In Sick Today ends Black Sails in the Sunset with something more different and interesting. Like Clove Smoke Catharsis, it is a beautifully haunting, ballad like song. Most noticeable about it is how Davey moves from his deep vocals in the verses to his wailing vocals in the chorus, which are a little unfitting but certainly interesting. In general, God Called In Sick Today is a beautiful way to end the album even though there is actually a bonus track that is quite interesting as well. Its a punk song like in the beginning of the album and a nice addition to it.
The drumming is brutal, the bass playing is strong, the guitar is fast, and the vocals are energetic and aggressive. Black Sails in the Sunset is punk. All of the songs are great and catchy as well as punky and enjoyable. Although nine of them are of a very similar aggressive style and only two are really different, each of them are energetic and well done. Overall, Black Sails in the Sunset is an excellent, aggressive modern punk album.
Porphyria Cutanea Tardo
Clove Smoke Catharsis
The Last Kiss
i second that, and pretty much agree with all your points in the review. my favourite track is probably "clove smoke catharsis," did you know that dexter holland of the offspring does backing vocals on that one too?
but yeah, great review, and great album, one of their three joint best releases IMO, along with all hallows EP and art of drowning.This Message Edited On 01.03.07
Very nice review. The only problem I have with this album is that it has the same feel to most of the songs. At A Glance, Narrative of Soul Against Soul, and God Called in Sick Today are my favorites. I still think Art of Drowning tops this however.
Oh so I saw AFI in Jersey on the night before Halloween, and Davey walked out ontop of the crowd for God Called in Sick Today and stopped right above me as I supported his leg. It was one of the most heavenly moments of my life