17 years has gone by since I first heard AFI (A Fire Inside) thanks to a roommate having a copy of Black Sails in the Sunset. I have continued to follow the band from 2000's Art of Drowning up to 2009's CrashLove.
Yes, I know... I did not mention 2013's Burials. To be 100% honest, this Fall Child was not a big fan. It was different. It wasn't horrid, but it wasn't very good either. The two first singles off of the track, "I Hope You Suffer" and "17 Crimes", while slightly promising, did not have the same allure as the band's singles from previous albums.
As 2016 comes to a close, Davey, Jade, Hunter, and Adam have returned with two new singles for their upcoming album The Blood Album (release date set for January 20, 2017). Much like 2006's DECEMBER UNDERGROUND, where you would end up with a photo of a band member as part of the album art (my first copy had drummer Adam Carson in it), The Blood Album is said to have four limited vinyl of different colors to match the four blood types; A, O, B, & AB. AFI has always had a way of giving a little extra with each album; Black Sails in the Sunset, Art of Drowning, and 2003's Sing the Sorrow all had hidden tracks. Sing the Sorrow also had two alternate album covers to the widely released red, as well as the special limited edition copy, which included the short film "Clandestine". CrashLove not only had the regular CD, but the deluxe version, including B-Sides from DECEMBERUNDERGROUND and Sing the Sorrow. Burials did not really have special releases of any kind, so it is nice to see them go back to that as well, as it is always a treat for the fans.
Okay. Enough of my rambling. Now, to the music...
So far, we have heard two singles off of the 14 track upcoming album; "Snow Cats" and "White Offerings". I'm sensing a theme here... Not surprising looking at their previous albums. Regardless, these two tracks are much more promising than the previous album's.
"Snow Cats" begins with Jade Puget's gorgeous guitar work, similar to Black Sails in the Sunset's "God Called in Sick Today". Then comes Davey Havok's gut-punching lyrics. As much as I love the early punk stuff off of albums like 1996's Very Proud of Ya, I have to admit that I enjoy the much darker albums. Now, I am not sure who the hell hurt Davey, but the lyrical content of this song alone seriously is a knife to the heart with opening lyrics, "Am I coy enough? Not boy enough?" Davey has led a pretty private life, so I naturally have always been curious as to what brings on lyrics such as this.
The harmonies on this track are amazing and done in typical AFI fashion. Jade backs Davey up perfectly as usual, and I know Tiger Army's Nick 13 is credited on this album as well supplying not only backing vocals, but backup guitar. It's always a thrill when Nick 13 joins the AFI guys, especially if you have had the pleasure of seeing them do "A Single Second" live. Adam's drums are simple but powerful, with little fun fills that, while I wish there were more, are just enough of a taste. They not only carry this song perfectly, but round out the lament behind it. My only complaint, and this would honestly be on the mix more than the playing itself, but I can't hear enough of Hunter's bass! Hunter is a GREAT bassist, and while his lines often stick out as thunder, this tune does lack it quite a bit. Other than that, "Snow Cats" is one of the great starts to the possible future of the band.
Then comes "White Offerings". What a punch! This one reminds me of "The Leaving Song Pt. 2" off of Sing the Sorrow. It's much faster paced than "Snow Cats", and dynamically, it hits every single thing you need in life. Again, the harmonies on this. Holy hell.
Strong drums from Adam. I can hear Hunter's bass! Jade's guitar work is pristine as well as his backing vocals. Then there is the Davey angsty yelliness that only he can do. What makes this song amazingly perfect though as far as familiarity though is the woahs in the background during the song's breakdown. I really don't have anything negative to say about this track.
Now, I mentioned sensing a theme earlier... I feel like every AFI album has had some sort of story to tell when you look at everything between album art, lyrics, and song titles. With The Blood Album, why all the white? What is the symbolism here? I guess the rest of the album will tell.
Either way, this one seems much more promising than Burials ever did, in my opinion. I know I will definitely be picking my copy up promptly on January 20, 2017. I'll be sure to let you guys know my thoughts, and I am curious on yours as well.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photo credit goes to the band as well as the original photographers.