21 January 2017
AFI - AFI (The Blood Album)
It has been almost three years since the beautiful ‘Burials’ was released by A Fire Inside (aka AFI) and we are now back with ‘AFI (The Blood Album’ (I sort of wish they had not given it ‘The Blood Album’ as an official and let the audience call it that themselves, the cover alone would have made that happen). Whilst it is always good to see AFI are releasing more music, you have to wonder what the mood of the band is at this given time. The cover is darker than ‘Burials’ and they are not exactly known for being the cheeriest band in the world, but the only way to find out is to let the album do the talking.
01 – Dark Snow
We are in the post-punk version of A.F.I. which they started mining on ‘Burials’, it is as dark as midnight here and it is also an epic anthem from the band. The chorus contains a massive hook which is as catchy as that cold which is going around the UK at the moment, the verses and bridge are stunning and the band are aiming for epic and hitting it with this song. One of the strongest opening songs from A.F.I. in a very long time.
02 – Still A Stranger
Starting with an acoustic guitar, ‘Still A Strange’ has a similar feeling to ‘Greater Than 84’ as it bounces along the same anthemic punk and it brings a little bit of light to proceedings (in a given sense of the word “light”, we are talking about A.F.I. after all). They have a way of making their songs memorable and it is business as usual here as they discuss still being a strange with someone who really should be a close friend/lover. Very dramatic as usual and ticking all the right boxes, sort of what we have come to expect.
03 – Aurelia
For ‘Aurelia’, the band are digging into their post-punk background here, speaking in rhymes and words in a way that will have fans of their ‘Sing the Sorrow’ era incredibly happy (once again, in a given sense of the word “happy”). It is moodier than a teenager being taken to get school clothes, arty and OTT. It is A.F.I. in flamboyant strut and it is glorious, it is moving to a slightly different place than the band have done so far on the album.
04 – Hidden Knives
I am not too sure about ‘Hidden Knives’ to be honest; mainly because the music is almost cheerful and that always confuses me when they edge to that territory (‘Crash Love’ anyone???). But the lyrics about macabre knives and things going south at the opportune moment is much more fitting, but the riff is one I love and hate for some reason. I will probably end up loving this in years to come, but at the moment it is sticking out like a sore thumb and I know it is me in the wrong.
05 – Get Hurt
It is all becoming a bit familiar at this point, a song about not letting someone see you at your most vulnerable and high, it feeling like I have been here once too often. Musically, the band once again aim for epic and achieve it comfortably; but that is normal for this band on this type of song, where is the drama in that? There is little to no difference to this and other past songs and as much as I like it, I cannot help but feel that this has been said by the band before.
06 – Above The Bridge
A synth driven post-punk number here actually gains more attention for me due to it having something different from A.F.I. on this album, a simple thing like that can add much needed variation to a tried and tested formula. A song about suicide and the after effects, the band have made a much-needed diversion from the norm here and because it is so basic in some ways, it makes it much more special for me.
07 – So Beneath You
Ok, this is a throwback in a way to their earlier sound on the opening riff, however it soon morphs into one of the pack with this album. I will admit that the lyrics which are defiant in the face of religion and admitting that they believe in nothing, it has a compelling argument in some ways. But musically it soon loses its appeal for me as it is not going anywhere different for them, or even approaching their best work. So, it is not bad, but it is not doing anything good either.
08 – Snow Cats
Now, this is a lot better from the band. ‘Snow Cats’ has at least a hint of drama as they explore being faithful and the music is a slow and compelling punk anthem that makes finally gives us the dark theatrics that make this band tick at their best. It is a song which showcases their best features and it is helps raise my view of this album.
09 – Dumb Kids
I had to check I was still listening to the same band here, on ‘Dumb Kids’ that band stretch their punk muscle and invoke their inner Pennywise and Blink-182 with a hymn to teenage years. I have complained a lot on this review about them not trying something different, I cannot do that here as it has at least a degree of difference and energy about it. It is not the best on this album, but it is certainly one of the surprises of the album for me.
10 – Pink Eyes
Another song which is not doing anything particularly wrong, but it is also not doing anything that is getting my excitement level up either. It has potential in the mix, a sing-a-long part of the song, a big hook and a great guitar intro; but it just seems to solidify into a dull song for me, a well-played song, but not exciting at all.
11 – Feed From The Floor
The gothic side of the band is explored here as the band have a stab at sounding like The Mission here. It does not disappoint at all here, they nail the goth punk better than any other band past or present (yes, I am including The Misfits on that list) and whilst it does not explode, it is perfectly posed, performed and it gives something different for the album.
12 – White Offerings
I am not sure what is being said here, are they saying when they can see someone’s colour change that it means the soul or skin? I do not think that the band are being any way racist here, but there are somethings which need clarification and to wrap them in such open lyrics which are so open to interpretation is dangerous. This song needs to have its explained as it is a strange number, it could be taken a lot of ways and that is not somewhere you want to be as a group of musicians. Also, the music is a little too empty and dull, so I will quickly move on.
13 – She Speaks the Language
Love, pain and suffering are at the heart of ‘She Speaks the Language’ and it is a welcome return and distraction to the gothic side of the band. It has the flair that is required for a set settling song from the band, it sounds as if they have reached down inside and it is a beautiful riff that holds the song in the chorus as the bassline guides the verses to new heights.
14 – The Wind That Carries Me Away
Country Goth Pop Punk? Well, at least it is something different I guess. But it is a strange song to be honest, one that seems to be a little bit too light on the ears and once again it feels a bit empty. I cannot say they are playing bad, but it is also a little boring in the same breath.
Overall, this album is a good record, but it is also slightly flawed as well. Quantity is not everything and I think this album could have been shortened by two or three numbers, leave us wanting more and people will lap it up. But on the flip side of quantity is quality and this album cannot be seen as a poor record; but I cannot sit here and say it is an amazing record either, due to there being a repetitive quality to the music on this record and over 14 tracks it drags out any momentum that would have been gained from this record. There is a game of two halves here as well, the first seem a little tired and run of the mil and the second part seems to have the musical gems. It is not as if they have made a bad record or over-stretched themselves on ‘A.F.I.’, it is still a good record; but the rub of it is that it is just a safe record and that my friends is not something they have done before. I am not saying that they should be innovated on each record, but they are not exactly AC/DC or Motorhead, are they? Even with ‘Crash Love’ they tried something new, here it is very familiar and there are no surprises – shame.
7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out
Top Song – Snow Cats
You can purchase AFI from Amazon here.
You can visit the AFI approved website here.
You can follow the activities of AFI on Facebook here.
You can stream AFI (The Blood Album) on Spotify here.
You can stream AFI (The Blood Album on Deezer here)
You can stream AFI (The Blood Album) on Tidal here.
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