Review Summary: A half-hearted, utterly forgettable experience.
AFI has always been a fun band to listen to. The mix of aggressive guitars, Davey Havok's interesting vocals, and excellent songwriting makes for catchy, energetic music that's a joy to experience. Songs like "Miss Murder" are what make the band so famous, and those songs display the songwriting talent that the band has developed through years of experience. So, when Blaqk Audio, the darker, ambient electronic project of Havok and guitarist Jade Puget, released their first album CexCells a couple years ago, people everywhere were impressed, if a bit underwhelmed, by the smooth transition from guitars to synthesizers. Havok grabbed the listeners by the hand and led them through dark twists and turns, past thumping drums, and towards the end of a dark tunnel, an end which led right back to the beginning and left the listeners in the dark just like they started. It was a solid album, and the announcement of a second full-length caused people to look forward to the release date, when they could experience the darkness once more.
What's terribly disappointing, then, is how pointless and boring Bright Black Heaven turned out to be. The jagged edge that made CexCells such an interesting listen is gone, replaced for the most part with what feels like a half-hearted attempt at synthpop (look no further than "Everybody's Friends" for a prime example). The synth sounds are no longer ambient and brooding, but rather sound like a throwing together of the worst elements of bands like Depeche Mode and Shiny Toy Guns. To continue the tunnel analogy, it's as if this album instead takes the listener through a haunted house that's not nearly dark enough, so that people passing through the house can see all the machinery and makeup. Basically, the atmosphere that this album creates for the listener feels fake, and it's impossible to be immersed in the music like you could have been on CexCells. The album consistently fails to accomplish the goal Blaqk Audio seems to be trying to accomplish, and the one or two good songs on the album are overshadowed by a mammoth wall of inadequate music. From an unfortunate attempt at retro-sounding pop on opener "Cold War," to an obnoxious bass sound and a grating synth lead ruining even further an already apathetic "Faith Healer," to an irritatingly upbeat instrumentation in "Bon Voyeurs" contrasting harshly with Havok's vocals and destroying whatever faint hope for redemption "Bliss" might have given a listener, the album as a whole can't even achieve mediocracy.
The only real salvaging factor that saves the album from being terrible is "Bliss." It's out of place because it's a very good song, and it reminds us why we liked Blaqk Audio in the first place. It avoids the trap of the annoying synth sounds and cheesiness that plagued the rest of the album, instead using ambient chimes and twisted synths to create an ominous soundscape, as if the power suddenly cut out on the haunted house and the people inside were plunged into the darkness at last, if only for a moment. It's not enough to save the rest of the album, though, and the fact remains that Bright Black Heaven is a lackluster attempt to continue what Blaqk Audio started on their first album. An utter lack of vigor combined with instrumentation makes for an album that's not particularly worth a listen except for the most fervent of AFI and Blaqk Audio supporters.
I had high hopes for this one but I was severely disappointed. If someone can explain the positive reception this one has been getting, it would be nice - I don't think it comes close to even CexCells.
Yeah, I know, I've committed the cardinal sin of not minding brostep as much as other people, blah blah blah. Actually if i were a super-brostep fan I would have probably given this a much higher rating because I would probably be a super-AFI fanboy too. This doesn't have much to do with my feelings about brostep, though, it's just not a good album in general.
Come again? Blaqk Audio are their own blend of synthpop, and synthpop has to try really hard to ever be dark. Also, you do realize that "Cold War" clocks in at 2:30 or so, and is effectively just an album opener.
I love their debut, this is good just not as great.
I do realize Cold War is kind of an opener, it was just one of the tracks that helped support my points. And yeah, their debut is good, but I just can't bring myself to like this. Also, the darkness of their debut is one of the main reasons I like it, the word I'd use to describe the sounds of this one is "obnoxious." I mean, I like me some synthpop/electro pop, but this is just not good. Why do you think it's good, though? The positive reviews I've read for this are very fanboy-y and I'd love to hear a Sputnik veteran's thoughts on this album.
And my username is fantastic. You are all jealous. JEALOUS I SAY (goes and cries in a corner)
"Songs like "Miss Murder" are what make the band so famous, and those songs display the songwriting talent that the band has developed through years of experience." Out of all the songs that you say display their talent, you choose "Miss Murder"? Sorry but lol. Still, I liked the review and I understand your point. Pos.
I don't know, personally I'm in the minority when I think that Miss Murder is actually a good song. I think it's actually really fun (although maybe I'm just saying that because I heard it when I was into guys like linkin park etc.). And I do like Davey's voice, it's one of the reasons I rated the album at a 2 instead of a 1.5. And as much as I do like AFI, I just can't bring myself to like this. I really wanted to give it a good review but I just find it lacking in energy. And not being danceable isn't a bad thing, but this sounds like a half-assed attempt at being danceable instead of definitively not being danceable.
I'd say being into AFI actually makes it harder to like this. But simply put, it's catchy, creative synthpop that doesn't delve into stereotypical stuff like dubstep and such. Davey's vocals rule, Faith Healer is one of the catchiest songs I've heard in forever and Deconstructing Gods is awesome. The album flows well, and is a pretty unique album in today's music scene.
I Personally think that it's a failed attempt at catchiness, and makes for an aggravating listen. Davey's vocals are of course very good, but the songs (especially the choruses) just fall flat and are uninteresting. As far as synth pop goes this is unfortunately one of the least catchy albums I've heard, and it doesn't have much else going for it. Again, just my opinion. Honestly wondering, though, what makes the review so bad?