By Salena Moran and Evan Penrod | Staff Writers
After a four year break, ‘90s punk alternative band A Fire Inside (AFI) returns with their tenth studio album, entitled “AFI: The Blood Album.”
The band has been promoting their new work since October 2016 and even debuted early releases of singles, including “Snow Cats,” “White Offerings” and “Aurelia.”
The band comprised of Davey Havok (lead vocals), Jade Puget (guitar), Hunter Burgan (bass) and Adam Carson (drums) attempts to please fans by reverting to its older sound of albums like “Sing the Sorrow” and “Decemberunderground,” while trying to create something more modern. However, they fail to satisfy. The album is like a roller coaster that is just about to reach the climax and instead, falls short and rolls backward.
The lyrics seem to lack the depth and angsty feel of their prior albums. The drive and incentives behind the words themselves did not leave as great an impression as their 2013 album, “Burials,” which was based on the lead singer’s hard breakup.
Davey Havok’s vocal abilities, however, still show his incredible range in the ability to belt loud, harsh songs while singing softly for others. He appropriately adjusts his vocals to the type of song he is singing and even throws in some more digital sound effects and enhancements to heighten the sound quality giving off a vibe reminiscent of The Cure.
AFI continues to show off their hard rocking guitars, heavy drumming and complementary bass sounds that fans have grown accustomed to over the years. However, the use of the synthesizer and electronic/digital enhancements is the newest addition to the group, which has yet to be heard in any of AFI’s older tracks.
The overall composition of music however feels neutral and sub par. It appears as though the band members didn’t sit down and work out songs to grab listeners’ attention but simply started playing music and decided that it was good enough before moving onto the next song.
AFI should have better harnessed their instrumental abilities into creating songs that were more varied and memorable for the listener.
Albums usually contain songs with a certain flow or memorable quality that tells a story, i.e. My Chemical Romance’s “Black Parade” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”
This album doesn’t seem to have any flow at all, which is not necessarily important; however, bands producing as long as AFI are expected to have some sort of organization.
The first six songs were practically identical to one another while the next eight songs seem to have a nicer flow and variety. Perhaps the order of the songs should have been rearranged so that the entire album could avoid such a slow, monotonous start.
Overall Review of the Album
AFI: The Blood Album seems to touch upon all of the band’s older sounds, but unfortunately has no lasting impact left on the listener. The group attempts to reincarnate the sounds similar to their earlier ‘90s releases such as All Hallows EP and Black Sails in the Sunset or even their 2000s releases such as Sing the Sorrow or Crash Love.
The band tried too hard to touch base with all of their older material in hopes of creating a sound everyone would like, but this album almost seems too rushed and out of place for many fans to even get into it extensively.
On a positive note, the vocals and instrumental qualities remain well established. In future albums, these aspects should remain constant and well developed.
AFI still needs to find that balance between holding true to their older material while not losing their identity in trying to vary their musical sound. Without either, they’ll alienate their old fans, while at the same time not draw in any new ones to replace them.