AFI are alternative rock's bad boys... or at least, they used to be. The band are back with their tenth record, the eponymous AFI (The Blood Album). It's a throwback to their most esteemed sound, but it feels a bit outdated now.
Where The Blood Album really sounds good is where it really channels the energy from Decemberunderground. That was AFI at their rawest and most realized form. The pure alternative rock anthems and distinct control over who they were. AFI sounds like that on a few tracks on The Blood Album, one of which is 'Aurelia.' It has a fun, loose rhythm to it that has a sweet drive to it that carries the dark melodies delivered by Davey Havok. The choruses are big and anthemic, in the perfect AFI fashion.
The band also reaches their potential in the album's first singles: 'Snow Cats' and 'White Offerings.' 'Snow Cats' has a great flow to it, the sweet guitar intro leading into the smooth verses. The song has a very good self-awareness about it, not trying to overexert itself by any means to achieve a sound it knows it shouldn't have. It's smooth, polished, and refined as it should be. 'White Offerings' is a more off-kilter track, more intense and angry. The guitars and Havok's vocals both work together to create aggression, the choruses big and colored with a punk flair to go alongside it.
Much of the rest of the record, however, feels incomplete, or lacking in some regard. In one song or another, AFI just feels a bit trivialized. Take opening track 'Dark Snow,' for example, which is a pretty average track, is over produced to the point where its the echoing of the drums that bring it down. The band tries to channel their old vibes in 'Still A Stranger,' but the choruses feel too poppy and out of place on the track. The end of the album has some promise too, the cheer and interesting structures of 'She Speaks The Language' offering some tasty sounds and textures. The album ends nicely on 'The Wind That Carries Me Away,' but it ends up being a pretty underwhelming ending.
AFI had clear intentions for AFI (The Blood Album), but they just couldn't quite channel their old energy fully. There were good moments, but most tracks were uninspired and without direction. The band went back to their prime sound, but couldn't quite replicate it such that it would be as great as it once was. You can't move forward if you don't go back, but sometimes moving on from the past will get you to better places.
Favorite Tracks: White Offerings, Aurelia, Snow Cats
Least Favorite Tracks: Above The Bridge, So Beneath You
Rating: 70 / 100
Buy or listen to AFI (The Blood Album) here: