Review Summary: Sure its got that raw punk sound and feel to it, but that gets boring after three albums.
Have you ever heard one of those albums that people tell you are great, only to finally listen to it and find everything that was promised was a lie? Well that pretty much sums up this album. Despite my love fo AFI from their earliest EP's and albums to the newer and somewhat hated material they've released lately, this is the only album I am unable to completely enjoy.
This album is often seen as a transition between the early hardcore punk days of AFI and the darker sound that would be explored by the band later on. Put simply it still contains the fast punkish style found on the previous albums but adds a heavier sound and more mature lyrical approach that would continue onto the next albums.
I'll start with the good; the guitar work on this album is a major improvement over the previous showcasing Mark Stopholese's best material on any record he featured on. The hooks are catchy, the leads are impressive and overall the guitar makes a much more dominant impression than it had on previous efforts. The drumming is solid with Adam Carson providing some excellent fills that complement the vocals and other instruments as well as being the driving force behind some of the songs. The lyrics are also often both catchy and exciting and show off a more mature side of Havok. (You won't find any songs about Cereal here).
Thats about the end of what was good. Now onto the bad; Never have Davey Havok's vocals been any worse. Aside from the occasional shining moment on a few songs (A Single Second, Third Season) the vocals are just bland. 90 percent of the time Havok is yelling/screaming his lungs out and it's just painful to hear. The other ten percent he's singing which is bearable but lacks the range he has shown on other recordings. The other area in which the album falters is the bass guitar; unlike on the previous albums Geoff Kresge is not present on this album and it really shows. With Stopholese dominating the songwriting, the bass on this album is pushed to the side. At times it is almost inaudible and although Hunter Burgan is an impressive bassist he is massivley underutilised throughout the album at the same time however there are songs which showcase his abilities, unfortunately this makes it even worse when he is seemingly absent from some songs.
Overall the album isn't too bad and definetely provides moments where the band provides an excellent performance. Unfortunately inbetween the poor vocal performance on Havok's part and the underutilised bass work, it makes it to difficult to rate this album any higher.
A Single Second
Keeping Out of Direct Sunlight