Review Summary: AFI heed the criticism of their fans and drop the elements that supposedly ruined their previous outing. The end result is one of AFI's most impressive records to date.
In my life there are two things that mean the most to me. Film and Psychology, fun fact I major in both. The first of my passions gives me symbolic meaning, commentary on the world and an understanding of the messages we convey. The other teaches me how to tell who’s talking shit and who’s being honest. In regards to AFI’s album Decemberunderground the former occurs a lot and the latter not so much. DU wasn’t by any means a perfect album, but the consistent abuse it receives is ridiculous.
Nevertheless people were unhappy with Decemberunderground and with that in mind AFI decided to drop the electronica that filled DU (interestingly there’s much more dominant synth passages found on STS but apparently those are the “good synths”). In their place AFI have refocused on a more traditional strucutre revolving around guitars, drums and bass.
Essentially Crash Love is AFI’s take on arena rock, however, they still maintain enough of their pop-punk sound. Of course the first thing to get out of the way is; no, this is not like Black Sails, Shut your Mouth or Very Proud of Ya. Crash Love presents the listener with something new but something that still sounds like AFI. The lack of harsh vocals lets us know that AFI have left their hardcore origins where they belong (the past).
For some this may be a negative, but considering the atrocity that was "Kill Caustic", the less harsh vocals the better. The band continues to remain as catchy as ever, with tracks like Medicate, I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here and Torch Song providing an enjoyable and memorable listen. Whilst “Ok I Feel Better Now”, presents us with AFI embracing alt-rock giving one of their best performances, the musical output on this track specifically allows every member to shine.
With this in mind it should be no surprise that the band seem to be as equals in regard to their musical output. Havok has made further steps forward vocally making use of a noticeably wider range of technicques. Notably Jade Puget has also stepped up his game, the guitar work throughout the album reminds everyone that Puget is still a master at creating both energetic and catchy riffs to ensnare the listener.
Hunter Burgan and Adam Carson also maintain the rhythm section well. Adam Carson continues his trend of being the most consistent member of AFI providing enough interesting fills to demonstrate his skill without taking the spotlight from the other members. Similarly Hunter Burgan continues his trend of being the underutilised member of the band. Still, his bass lines are both audible and interesting and if anything it’s a credit to his modesty that a bassist of his skill level (See: Hunter Revenge) is willing to play second fiddle to Puget whilst still contributing a top notch performance.
Crash Love is everything Decemeberunderground wasn’t; it’s upbeat (musically) and it’s energetic . With that in mind the album is still AFI and if a comparison were to be made Crash Love is Sing the Sorrow’s Alt-rock oriented brother. Crash Love is an excellent effort and is arguably the best work put forth by AFI since joining a major label (Can’t wait for the argument against that statement). All in all AFI have heeded the criticism of fans and provided an entirely different perspective with which to view their music.