Release Date: Oct 22, 2013
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Goth Rock
AFI have definitely matured over the years. Their first jump was from a snotty, upstart California hardcore band with a heavy Misfits obsession to emo-goth superstars with their breakthrough 2003 epic Sing the Sorrow. That album and its 2006 follow-up, Decemberunderground, found lead singer Davey Havok and the rest of AFI fully embracing their dark, if still glitter-laden take on grandly produced and anthemic rock that somehow bridged the wide gap between the panicked, emo-soul of Fall Out Boy and the macabre, electronic-tinged sound of Marilyn Manson.
Review Summary: AFI sound exactly the same and are better for it.AFI having been a band for a hair over twenty years has given us, as music listeners, one of the most important but under-appreciated gifts that any serious consumer of art can come across. That gift is context. When looking back on AFI's career, their so-called divide from punk to more mainstream stylings is a farce.
As AFI have traveled further and further away from their east bay hardcore roots over the past decade-plus, they've also reinvented themselves on nearly every album. After the catchy horror punk of Black Sails in the Sunset and The Art of Drowning, the band went darker and heavier on Sing The Sorrow. They incorporated more elements of screamy post-hardcore on Decemberunderground, then traded that for sexed-up pop-rock on Crash Love.
AFI enter their too-big-to-fail phase with the kind of glum alt-rock tailor-made for the end credits of action movies. "17 Crimes" and "Greater Than 84" survive with the band's flair for camp still intact. Others drown in pools of eyeliner. Flamboyant, serious, plagued by problems he never gets too specific about, Davey Havok invents a role part Morrissey, part Bret Michaels – hair-metal pinup for the Hot Topic era.
Overseen by producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters), AFI’s latest is top-loaded with atmosphere-enhancing, widescreen production that’s so grandiose, it should have Michael Bay’s name all over it. “No Resurrection” and “A Deep Slow Panic” come off as the steroid-laden progeny of post-punk godfathers. Vocalist Davey Havok veers between passionate poetry (“Greater Than 84”) and Clear Channel-approved over-emoting (“I Hope You Suffer”).