Catchy melodies & cringy lyrics.
Hands up who remembers going through the “phase” in the good old year of 2007? Now keep that hand up if our cultures constant surge in nostalgia has caught you off-guard? Whether it be remakes of Age Of Empires, new Star Wars films, Nadal vs Federer, or the brand new AFI album, it’s safe to say that the universe is trying to remind us of our childhoods again - no matter how good or bad those times were. As per this review, it’s the latter which I will be choosing to focus on here, offering some late thoughts on AFI's latest offering, the ominously titled 'The Blood', from the very same band that brought us 'Miss Murder' back in the day.
The one thing that rings throughout this record is that AFI has progressed well as musicians over the last 10 or so years but have allowed themselves to thematically stagnate, the overall effect being one of negativity. Album opener 'Dark Snow' can’t seem to make up its mind between being an emo anthem or a slice of alt-rock optimism. Likewise, 'Aurelia' and 'Hidden Knives' both sound foreboding enough, right before breaking into poppy, catchy chorus’s that will stick in your head for hours. However, charting into the album's better highlights, the four-piece showcase a fantastic skill for writing killer melodies, with album highlight 'Get Hurt' showcasing some tasteful guitar lead work as well.
But for every good track here, there is an equal retraction. 'So Beneath You' showcases exactly the kind of cringe that one would suspect might afflict a modern AFI record, opening with the god awful line of “I don’t believe that I could stay here and watch them vilify my blood” before hitting a chorus of “I won’t leave, I won’t bow, If they dare they’ll strike me down”, all to the sound of a clunky riff that sounds like a high school band in their first ever jam session.
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Furthermore, the mournful march of 'Snow Cats' ends up feeling more like a desperate take-me-back rather than a well-thought out piece of art. Overall, 'The Blood' will both surprise you with its unexpected brilliance and bring you crashing back down to earth with its lack of artistic maturity. But perhaps this AFI as we’ve always known (and deep down loved) from day one. Different, weird and surely not the kind of stuff we would normally listen to...and just because I whistle it for hours after hearing it doesn’t mean that I like it, damn it!
AFI's new album is void of any real classic tunes, much like the ones that litter their previous output. 'The Blood' is an album that you would love to hate but just can't because the music is admittedly pretty darn cool. However, lyrically it does sound like a 15-year-old trying to vent his feelings about the world around him, whilst musically it sounds like four grown musicians, who are actually pretty good at what they do, merely doing what they have done for years now.
Still A Stranger
Above The Bridge
So Beneath You
Feed From The Floor
She Speaks The Language
The Wind That Carries Me Away
'The Blood' is out now via Caroline Australia.