Albums

Album Review: AFI – ‘Burials’

“This record is of silence, and the burials that result from that silence. It’s of betrayal, cruelty, weakness, anxiety, panic – deep and slow – despair, injury and loss. And in this it is shamefully honest and resolutely unforgiving” – Davey Havok.

AFI has been a huge part of my life since my early teens. With each release the band continues to inspire and open listeners up to new avenues of musical artistry. It has been 4 years since the band’s last effort, Crash Love, was unleashed in 2009, and after an ingenious viral campaign tantalising us diehard fans since April this year, AFI has made a triumphant return with Burials, possibly their most bold release to date.

AFI has been a huge part of my life since my early teens. With each release the band continues to inspire and open listeners up to new avenues of musical artistry.

The scope of the record as a whole is dazzling. It is clear that great care has been taken by principal songwriters Davey Havok and Jade Puget with regard to the composition of each song. On Crash Love, the band favoured a much more stripped-down approach to composition, after heavy use of synthesiser elements on 2006 release Decemberunderground as well as on Havok and Puget’s electronic side Project Blaqk Audio.

In comparison to Crash love, the band has reintroduced such electronic elements, but this time these are intertwined much more inventively into the melodies, a prime example being the closing track ‘The Face Beneath the Waves’, which, as a consequence , is highly layered and wonderfully atmospheric.

A factor that strikes me the most on Burials is the increased presence of the drums. Adam Carson has shown even greater levels of rhythmic complexity, which is complimented by the heavy electronic elements of the album to great effect. Perhaps one of the only downsides for me on the album is the loud production, which at times, depending on your choice of device or speakers, can drown out some of the subtleties of the various beats and charisma of the individual instrumentation.

AFI remain my favourite band now and forever.

It is apparent that Burials is a highly personal artistic venture for frontman Davey Havok, perhaps more so than previous releases. His anguish permeates each song with the poetic agility we know and love. Lyrically, Burials returns to themes of darkness and inner turmoil that, whilst familiar to elite fans, were not as poignant on Crash Love.

The candid and bleak nature of the lyrics is perhaps most apparent on opening tracks ‘The Sinking Night’ and ‘I Hope You Suffer’, the opening lyric of the record testifies “Blackness drips down from both of my hands” and the chorus of ‘I Hope You Suffer’ is delivered with such vocal ferocity that is reminiscent of 1999’s Black Sails In The Sunset.

The candid and bleak nature of the lyrics is perhaps most apparent on opening tracks ‘The Sinking Night’ and ‘I Hope You Suffer’.

Whilst the lyrical tone of the record is relatively austere, there is a magnificent juxtaposition in tone when Havok’s words are complimented by the music. Songs like ’17 Crimes’ and ‘Greater than 84’ on the surface are highly uplifting and almost dance-worthy, and this contrast is a welcome hallmark to 2003’s Sing The Sorrow which was responsible for the launch of the band into the mainstream over a decade ago.

Burials is definitely a collection that requires multiple listens to be fully appreciated.

Burials is definitely a collection that requires multiple listens to be fully appreciated. Whilst the singles ‘I Hope You Suffer’ and ’17 Crimes’ jump out immediately, other tracks demonstrate a relatively stark difference in approach that takes a replay or two to allow their full ingenuity to be discovered. This is nothing new for AFI. With each addition to the discography, the band show time and time again that they are capable of achieving new heights in regards to progression, and this is why they remain my favourite band now and forever. There will always be A Fire Inside.

Dan Brophy

…Dan is listening to AFI – ‘The Conductor’…

Star-Rating-5

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