by Keegan King
Its weird to think that the last time I listened to AFI- with any regularity- was over 10 years ago. Id like to think that in that time I’ve grown into a fully formed adult and am not the kind of person who kills an evening listening to sad music and drawing. Then I noticed that (The Blood Album) showed up on my Spotify and decided to spend the evening regressing rapidly.
Now the eyeliner has taken over.
I am one with the darkness.
Ever since Sing The Sorrow, AFI has stayed pretty deeply in their comfort zone. Every other song ends up sounding like a cross between The Smiths and Bauhaus, which definitely has its place but, it can end up getting redundant fairly quickly.
With (The Blood Album) however, it feels like some new life has been breathed into this band. The sound and lyrics are more grown-up; the themes remain dark without devolving into the same trappings of Hot Topic kids circa 2006; and while this may seem like a small thing, I really loved the track order. Lately, a lot of bands seem to be focusing less and less on track order- as we tend to listen to bands in playlists or on shuffle mode- and its nice to see a band taking that in to account.
While it never really gets to the same level as Black Sails in the Sunset, this album has a few tracks that really hit me in my old, emo heart. Give a listen to “Still a Stranger”, “Get Hurt”, “Pink Eyes”, and “Above the Bridge”.
Remember when I said that “track order” was important and awesome? Well its also (The Blood Album)‘s biggest weakness. The album comes out strong and only gets better with a solid first half, but it takes a turn at at a song called “Snow Cats”. This song was the equivalent of hitting those little bumps on the highway while you’re driving around.
This song, and indeed the whole back half of the album, ends up feeling like a stark return to form for the band. Hitting us with songs that, while brand new, feel like they could have come off of any of the previous albums. While I suppose this will make the hardcore fans really happy, one of AFI’s biggest triumphs in music is that they evolve with every album and its disappointing to have them leave that trope in the dust.
Songs like “Feed From The Floor” and “White Offerings”, while not offensive in any way, feel like playing it safe and it causes the album to slowly descend into mediocrity. By the end of the first listen, it took a lot to listen all the way through the final notes.
Overall this album does a lot right, and I definitely think its worth a listen. The sound production is perfect, the music is interesting, and its always nice to support a band that has been going strong since 1991; particularly in a genre that tends to have a problem growing up and maintaining interest as its fanbase ages.
While the things it does wrong are not deal-breakers for me, they are prevalent enough to keep me from suggesting this album to anyone who is not already a fan of AFI.