Review Summary: AFI continue their progression on Crash Love by not only avoiding creating a Decemberunderground 2 but continuing their growth as talented musicians and exceptional songwriters.
There have always been two sets of AFI fans in my mind, the fans who sucked down Decemberunderground like sweet electropop soup but tried nothing else on AFI's menu and then there are the fans that enjoy the ever changing flavor of the group and have been there from the start. I pride myself with enjoying all of AFI's offering from the fast punk of "Answer That" to the moody metal infused "Black Sails", AFI's mammoth "Sing the Sorrow" and the severely over hated and underrated "Decemberunderground". After there last chilly outing I was honestly unsure what the band was going to do next. Would it be a deeper foray into electronic beats that were so prevalent on Dececmberunderground? Would Davey and Jades side project Black Audio shine through? However I should have known better than to guess what AFI's next album would sound like and in a way I'm glad I was wrong because these guys pulled it off, and very, very well.
The album rockets of with an insta fan favorite in the form of "Torch Song" which showcases Jades phenomenal (and often underrated) guitar skills. To any of you thinking AFI have gone soft can be silenced with Davey's dark and passionate lyrics "I tear out my eyes for you my dear, to see everything as that you do". Everything that make AFI what they are and always have been remain intact, from Hunters steady and power full bass lines most apparent on "Beautiful Thieves". AFI continue to improve there musical output on the track "End Transmission" Havok creates a highlight of the album by half shouting, half singing "This night has only just begun!" Jades intricate guitar playing litters the track and takes a few listens to fully appreciate. Havoks vocal performance is highlighted on "Veronica Sawyer Smokes" a song seemingly about not putting your faith in false idols. "Ok, I Fell Better Now" shows AFI at there musical best while Havoks lyrics are at an all time high, or low depending on how you interpret the clever line, "for the last lie and the heartbreak, for the first time I could not take, until I made you cry". The band, and as they often do throughout the album, step in to help Davey out with the singing duties with not only add depth to each track, but also a seemingly more personal experience.
It seems as if I could rave about this album all week but like any AFI album this one does have a few flaws. The track "Medicate", the bands chosen single for the album, comes off as slightly over the top and is ultimately saved by a stellar bridge and one of Jades rare and very slick guitar solos. Also the lack of 4 minute+ songs may make hardcore fans feeling left out as there is no epic songs such as "The Great Disappointment" or "...But Home in Nowhere". Another slight flaw in the album is that since this is a more "guitar oriented" album Hunter and Adam often play second fiddle to Jades striking guitar outing and Havoks bombastic vocals. As a fan I can safely say that in the next album, a few drum and even bass solos would be more than welcome. However all of the flaws stated are fairly minor as the album feels very complete as a whole with subtle guitar chords and vocal layering making this an album that takes a few spins to fully appreciate. At the end of the day however AFI have done it again, stayed true to there form by not just creating a Decemberundergroun part 2 but surprising fans with another fantastic outing. Here's to the next album.
edit Jan 21st - The bonus tracks are fantastic as well with "Fainting Spells" (a b-side from Decemberunderground) being a stronger punkier version of 37mm. "We've got the Knife" (Crash Love demo) holds a fantastic chorus but a slightly underwhelming bridge and "100 Words" (b-side from Sing the Sorrow) show Havoks vocals as well as their songwriting to be top notch and marks the end of their hardcore days by bridging the gap between Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground and all the while becoming one of the bands greatest tracks to date. "Where We Used to Play" (Crash Love demo) is the a rather average AFI track but a good one nonetheless.
Veronica Sawyer Smokes
Ok, I Feel Better Now
Note~ My rating has changed to a 3 because this album didn't really have the sticking power like other Afi releases. I guess I'll keep the review rating, I'm not really sure how that should work though.