Friday 3 March 2017

Album Review: AFI - AFI (The Blood Album)

AFI - AFI (The Blood Album)

1. Dark Snow
2. Still A Stranger
3. Aurelia
4. Hidden Knives
5. Get Hurt
6. Above The Bridge
7. So Beneath You
8. Snow Cats
9. Dumb Kids
10. Pink Eyes
11. Feed From The Floor
12. White Offerings
13. She Speaks The Language
14. The Wind That Carries Me away

This self titled album is also known as The Blood Album. Probably because someone pointed out that they already have an album called AFI, albeit a compilation. I fucking hate it when bands do that. How hard is it to call your new EP or album something different to avoid confusion and fans' computers trying to merge albums together into the same folder? Fuck's sake! (Other guilty bands include Killswitch Engage, Killing Joke, Queensryche, Ratt and Suicide Silence). OK, rant over.

This is AFI's first album since 2013's excellent Burials. I've been a fan since 2002 when I first heard their The Art Of Drowning album, and was hooked by the insanely catchy single Days Of The Phoenix. Soon after, they released Sing The Sorrow which saw the band rocket into the mainstream, and oozed catchy singles including Girl's Not Grey which received heavy rotation on pretty much every Rock friendly television channel imaginable. Since then, they've continued to maintain significant global success with a series of solid albums, but still haven't reached the heights of Sing The Sorrow. I think that album was in the right place at the right time.

On first listen, The Blood Album didn't really hit that 'wow factor' for me until track four (Hidden Knives), which was an instant track full of hooks and punk guitar riffs, spliced nicely with Gothic clean tones. Other highlights include Above The Bridge which reminds me of The Cure with its prominent bass and nicely weaved in keyboards. So Beneath You is a brilliant track that harks back to AFI's earlier more punk sound, dripping with energy and attitude. Their single Snow Cats sounds like it could have been lifted from the Sing The Sorrow album. Feed From The Floor shows AFI at their most Goth, with guitars that would be at home on a Mission record.

The Blood Album is a bit of a grower. It took me a few listens to appreciate it in its entirety. It draws on influences from the band's entire back catalogue, and on first listen it could be dismissed as an attempt to try and please fans of all eras of AFI at the expense of a more focussed direction. However, I found myself enjoying the songs that didn't grab me first time round, and the album has started to make more sense. Fans who gave up on the band after The Art Of Drowning probably won't be won back, but fans who stayed along for the ride won't be disappointed with The Blood Album provided they stick with it.


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