Review Summary: Call it a fusion of sounds, a new direction wearing an old dress, or the distillation of everything AFI. The Blood Album is refined, infectious, and ready to sink its claws into you.
Here we are again. With every new AFI record we get another round of old and new fans proclaiming their stance on the band. There seems to be an era of AFI in all of us; Be it one popular single, a select few albums, or the entire history of the twenty-five year old band. I'm not sure if AFI should count themselves lucky or cursed to have appealed to such a broad range of people throughout their career, always expecting a particular sound from a particular moment in time.
Whether those expectations are fair or not, we're here with AFI's tenth studio release, The Blood Album
. Opener "Dark Snow" leads us to believe that this new record will be a continuation of the sound found on 2013's Burials
. It has a driving rhythm section and a soaring chorus that hears singer Davey Havok wailing, "I go on!". It sets the stage nicely but it does so in a deceptive manner. Immediately following this track we're introduced to the unfamiliar sound of an acoustic guitar on "Still a Stranger". While the big chorus is familiar territory for this group, Havok's forceful delivery and the liberal use of acoustic work is a breath of fresh air. This is most certainly not just a sequel to Burials
Atmospheric tracks like "Aurelia" and "She Speaks the Language" offer moody bass lines and haunting vocals while songs like "Hidden Knives" and "So Beneath You" offer a more classical AFI sound with absolutely massive choruses. The bridge on the latter song even manages to evoke feelings of the beloved All Hallow's EP
. Not every track here will jump out at you immediately. Given time though, songs like "Get Hurt" and "Above That Bridge" will work their way into your brain and make their nest inside. As will the rest of this record.
There really is something here for just about everyone. Ballads appear in the form of lead single "Snow Cats" and the delightfully Cure-esque "Feed From the Floor". On the other end of the spectrum we have "Dumb Kids" and "White Offerings" providing us with some aggression to break up the melodies. Across this entire record, every member of the band gets to shine. A funky bass line from Hunter Burgan leads "Pink Eyes" and Adam Carson's underappreciated drumming sticks out immediately on the majority of these tracks. Meanwhile, Jade Puget's guitar work here is perhaps his most impressive work yet from a songwriting perspective. He also co-produced this record and to his credit the soundscapes on display here are excellent. There are plenty of fantastic tones and intricacies layered throughout the lengthy track listing.
The Blood Album
closes with "The Wind That Carries Me Away". Definitely one of the most unexpected sounds to come from AFI, this track gives us a very bluesy vibe along with a powerful chorus and a beautiful guitar solo to close out the record with a bang. It also solidifies the notion that AFI is not afraid to try new things despite any protests from fans. While you'll find elements of many of AFI's past works on this record, The Blood Album
offers many surprises as well. Call it a fusion of sounds, a new direction wearing an old dress, or the distillation of everything AFI. It's refined, infectious, and it'll sink its claws into you.
- "Still a Stranger"
- "So Beneath You"
- "Dumb Kids"
- "Pink Eyes"
- "Feed From the Floor"