With a motivational political climate and a fatigue of several popular genres, rock music is primed to make a comeback in 2017. Unfortunately, AFI won’t be the band to bring it back.
After their sixth album Sing the Sorrow slowly gained popularity and went platinum in 2006, AFI, also known as A Fire Inside, became the biggest name in alternative and punk rock. Their dark, cold signature sound incorporated elements of melodic and melodramatic hardcore and blended aspects of several genres to create a unique noise rock fans all across the board could appreciate. Ever since, the group has struggled to match their initial success, churning out record after merely passable record. Despite some suspense, nothing has changed with their newest LP AFI (The Blood Album).
AFI’s guitarist Jade Puget was in charge of production for this record, and along with some help from audio engineer Matt Hyde, he crafted a consistent sound for this record. Hyde’s experience with producing Deftones’ Gore comes out on AFI (The Blood Album), with a few pop tendencies incorporated in moments to try to keep a wide appeal.
AFI stuck to their guns and adjusted very little for this album. Longtime fans of AFI will find exactly what they’re looking for track after track: punchy guitar chords and heavy drums that accentuate AFI’s trademark blend of punk and alternative. The only track that varies from the humdrum is “The Wind That Carries Me Away,” which works a reggae-infused funk bass and some blues guitar work into the mix. Otherwise, there’s little variation between songs on AFI (The Blood Album).
But the LP’s eighth track, “Snow Cats,” is AFI at its finest — the arpeggio chords from Puget blend well with Davey Havok’s lead vocals, and the rolling drums in the background contribute flawlessly to the track’s smooth flow. This single pairs well with the record’s 12th offering “White Offerings,” a heavy song full of emotional release.
Beyond those two glorious moments, AFI fails to surprise and draw in listeners. Tracks such as “Aurelia” and “Get Hurt” carry little weight, making them feel like a waste. This album comes in at 14 tracks in a bit over 45 minutes, yet with several boring tracks, less than half an hour of this album is enjoyable.
However, the consistency from Puget and Hyde’s production feels a bit out of place on an AFI album. Traditionally, AFI’s albums have been interesting because they have always capitalized on randomness, but their recent few albums lacked that. In part, the production of this album contributes to its often dull sound.
Old AFI fans might still find something to enjoy on AFI (The Blood Album), but for new listeners and those who may only know the band from Sing the Sorrow, this record will likely leave them feeling exactly the same as how they did going into it — tired.
No matter how impressive the production may be on this LP, AFI just doesn’t deliver with the hard-hitting tracks fans have come to expect from the group. Considering it’s been four years since their last release, it seems AFI has just been treading water, trying to stay relevant with an exhausted and repetitive formula. If AFI wants to break out and become a big time rock act again, they need to experiment with other influences and sounds.