Reviews AFI Burials

AFI

Burials

As a zine built on the foundation of loving AFI, it would clearly be remiss not to talk about their new record. We try to pretend that Decemberunderground and Crash Love never happened - the first rule of AFI fandom is.... - but it would be silly to think that AFI made it to Burials without having to go through those two terrible albums. OK, I'll give them this, the songs they played live sounded great, but listening to the albums is a lesson in torture. Praise the Dark Lord then, that AFI have regrouped, re-energised and reclaimed their love of the dark.

When news started coming through that AFI were releasing new material there was, understandably, a nervous excitement about it all. Would it be good? Would it be awful? What would it sound like? Thankfully, the quartet didn't let us down and Burials is, by far and way, their most solid and cohesive output in years. They introduce huge rock moments without it sounding trite (Crash Love), they weave electronic elements into the mix without it sounding like cast-offs from Blaqk Audio (Decemberunderground) and they reveal their affinity for all things despair-filled in a modern and engaging manner.Sing the Sorrow (2003) marked what many see as the pinnacle of AFI's career and since that time the band have wanted to show other facets to their sound. That's not a bad thing, by no means, but for AFI it never seemed like they were being true to themselves of honest with their music - there's been much talk of record label interference through the years which could have hindered their creativity - but Burials is the sound of a band shedding those ghosts and racing forward into a new era. 

"The Sinking Night" starts things off with the traditional intro-style track that AFI have, among other things, become known for. It's deliciously dark and frontman Davey Havok sounds as good here as he did ten years ago, which is a feat unto itself. "I Hope You Suffer" follows and the vibrancy of the band shines through in martial drum lines and a chorus that lifts and builds and ravages into words of complete destruction - AFI sound angry here and it is wonderful. "A Deep Slow Panic" flies along on a fun little beat that constantly shifts and takes in subtle moments of calm before bursting forth and consuming you with it's outrageous catchy pace. This is the sound of a band that has absolutely taken control of their sound once again and "No Resurrection" brings their brand of darker punk to the fore with a bass line (Hunter Burgan) that pushes forward and melds with Adam Carson's drum beats to drive the song - the rhythm section of this band has always been undervalued and it's their work that really underpins the songs.

It's not all great news though, as Burials takes a few turns for the worse with "Heart Stops" and "Greater Than 84." The former makes zero sense in terms of lyrical content and progression - also, when you're convinced Havok is saying "crudité" when he's actually saying "cruelty," you've definitely got a problem. The track feels like a leftover from Crash Love and interrupts the flow pretty harshly while the latter is a non-event. The initial verse is fairly decent but the chorus is terrible and the final minute and half is kinda sickening. But, when songs such as "The Conductor" and "Rewind" sound so forceful and huge and "Wild" bounds along like a forgotten 90s video game soundtrack, it's enough to overrule the missteps of what is a very strong release. 

"The Face Beneath The Waves" closes Burials on suitably shadowy tones that bring the album full circle. The verses sit in subtle, minimal waves of vocal and slightly held back ambient noise (yes, really) while the chorus surges with a heady passion that surrounds and envelopes you in classic AFI tones. It holds a sense of finality in its closing moments and signals the rebirth and renewal of the much-loved band into one that is defiant in its outlook. AFI are back, make no mistake.

8.0 / 10Cheryl
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