Review Summary: AFI's new record is sure to please some, while others may be disappointed. But it shows us, these boys have so much to offer the music scene.
Davey Havok: Vocals
Jade Puget: Guitar
Hunter Burgan: Bass
Adam Carson: Drums
AFI is just one of those bands. They go through countless phases and always throw something different into the mix by the time the next album comes out. AFI started as a straight up no filler hardcore band in the early 90's up until 1999's "Black Sails in the Sunset". At this point, AFI started slowly working more melodic vocals and more versatile musicianship than demonstrated in their previous power-chord/blast beat symphonies. They progressed onwards to release the very successful "Art of Drowning" and then with the mainstream masterpiece, "Sing the Sorrow". At this point, AFI had seemed to shatter their roots nearly completely and turned into an extremely dark, melodic hardcore outfit (even complete with electronics at some times). AFI kept that formula up to par with the even poppier album "DECEMBERUNDERGROUND". Nobody was sure what AFI was going to release next. And then came, "Crash Love".
"Crash Love" begins with the high paced buildup of "Torch Song", and before you know it the song explodes into a high-octane mixture of melody and thrash. The verse kicks in and immediatly, Davey Havok's vocals enter and the song is in gear. The chorus then uppercuts you with the as-per-usual AFI energy mixed in with a Choir. Davey does a great job of demonstrating his new vocal range in this one. The sound subsides, but the energy still builds up and heads for the final chorus. Quite a great opener choice for this album.
The album has it's fair share of poppy radio hits in store, especially with lead single, "Medicate", and the alternative rock, sure-to-be fan pleaser "Beautiful Thieves". "Beautiful Thieves" is definately one of the newest evolutions in the AFI alternative rock sound. "Thieves" has a guitar heavy, straight up rock'n'roll chorus which is sure to leave the audience for more. Without a doubt, another standout on this album is "End Transmission", which only helps to further AFI's experimental side. The song starts out with electronic drums and the song soon segues into a blend of Jade Puget's clean guitar playing over Davey's outstanding vocal range, all backed by a near-electronic drum sound. This one's a keeper. The drums all over this album are extremely tight, and keep the pulse in every track on this record.
Electronic elements are found throughout the record in bits and pieces ("Too Shy to Scream", "Cold Hands"), but they really give the songs a new level of intensity and really hit it home for me. Another clear standout on this album is the closer "It Was Mine". This song brings back the same exact intensity and songwriting found on "Sing the Sorrow", with Jade's great riffing, Davey's soothing, but haunting, singing, and then an incredibly outstanding chorus. The chorus on this song is probably the best on the whole album. The catchiness of this song is incredible. You're going to want to put this track on repeat a couple times to get it all.
This album has great strengths, as it definately sets AFI on mark for the experimental value and the catchiness value. The amount of electronics and new guitar techniques are sure to give you some more insight on AFI's new sound. Davey's expanded vocal range is sure to leave you in awe, as well. The overall replay value on this album is fairly high. In fact, this album is without a doubt not a "one and done album". To enjoy it as much as you can, and to pick up on everything, this album should be replayed quite a couple times. I definately encourage it.
Many fans will find dissapointment in the new AFI sound, and some will absolutely adore it. The only thing I can say about that, is that the times change and bands have to stick with it. AFI's new direction may not be in everyone's interest, but if a band wants to survive the times (and AFI is a great example) the change is necessary.
Much props for the new experimentation and the overall new feel of the music. A job well done, in my opinion, but it sure makes me think: What else could AFI possibly have left to offer us?
Very solid record by AFI.