AFI – Burials (2013)

Burials_2013-09-23_22-18It’s safe to say that American rockers AFI have been round the block a few times, and I am sure have learned a few things in the meanwhile.  One of those things is not to do a 180-degree turn and change their style completely, and for that I am grateful.  Perhaps it’s because there hasn’t been a line-up change since 1998 or maybe they are sticking to what they know and do well, but the new album Burials is AFI to the core.

The album starts with that classic, creepy, slightly gothic feeling hat AFI bring to so much of their work.  Slow and powerful with Davey Havock’s voice the clear draw and the peak of interest in this short intro.  This track gives me a strong sense of what is to come.

The second track ‘I Hope You Suffer’ is a great song with a strong, solid drum beat and vocals, quiet to start, until his almost scream comes through.  The chorus is powerful and the first we really hear of guitars in this song.  They are subtle and well crafted, playing a simple and effective melody.

AFI have always had the power to make me bob my head, and this new album is no different by having a great balance of the gothic vibes that AFI often have and their punky aggressive style as well.

By the track ‘17 Crimes’ I am heavily into the AFI bubble.  I love the pop punky feeling at the beginning, it makes me feel very nostalgic, and the chorus has double-tracked vocals that I think work really well for this track.  There is also an engaging little solo.  One thing AFI have always been good at is build up in their songs before they drop into the outro.  AFI definitely play by the rules of song writing, but it does work for them.

I’m getting toward the end of the album now and so far it has been perfect track after perfect track, I think that’s my problem with it.  It’s so pristine from beginning to end and it’s starting to feel unreal.  I mentioned the AFI bubble, where you sit and listen and every perfect song amalgamates into one, there hasn’t really been a song that jumps out at me, nothing spectacular.

The track ‘Wild’ sticks out to me a bit more than most of the others up to this point because it is really punky.  It has a quick tempo and for the first time on this album the instrumentation is more important to the track than the vocal.  In fact, the vocal has been mixed really far back in the track in comparison to the rest of the album.

The final track on the album ‘The Face Beneath the Waves’ is the first track on this album to sound imperfect, until the chorus.  To start with there is a lot of sound design that overpowers everything, then in the chorus it becomes pristine again.  I think they have gone for a noisy background to give the song the creepy feeling that the intro had, to create a sense of continuity.  This is another song where the vocal has been mixed further back in the track, this really does make the most of the instruments.

While I have always been a fan of AFI and I do like this album, I also remember why I stopped listening to them for a while.  I love that they stay true to themselves and their continuous style is a testament to them and their will to not give up.  What I don’t love is that every AFI album I have heard since DecemberUndergroud just doesn’t hold my attention in the same way it did.

Going back to my point about all the songs being perfect, for me it just ruins it.  Every album needs a bad track or at least a song that’s not a strong as the others, it just does.  AFI have never been masters of the singular bad track.

I think my favorite track on this album is ‘I Hope You Suffer’.  This is the only song that grabs my attention.  They are all brilliant tracks, but nothing stands out.  I think because all the tracks on this album singularly are amazing, when you put them together they all just become average.

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