AFI’s highly anticipated album AFI (The Blood Album), dropped last Friday and it doesn’t necessarily find the band at their strongest. What was building up to be an epic and well-welcomed comeback turned out to just quietly arrive with little flair. Moving further away from their punk ethos, the album favors upbeat melodies and non-threatening music aiming to please casual listeners and longtime fans. While the former group may be pleased, the album doesn’t really strike a chord with the latter group.
The Blood Album struggles to make itself memorable, which past AFI releases had no problem with. Songs like “Get Hurt,” “Pink Eyes,” and “Feed from the Floor” aren’t memorable in the slightest. They can be described as having a decent hook and ear catching guitar riffs. And “Above the Bridge” grows tiring and dull as frontman Davey Havok constantly sings “I saw you step upon that bridge/I saw you walk across that bridge/I saw you float above our bridge/And I’ve floated since that day.” Otherwise, there’s little to say about these songs. In the scope of the entire record, they’re nice to hear, but they leave little impact. As soon as it ends, you’ve already forgotten the name of the song. AFI are known for making songs that either reach out and grab you by the throat or strike a chord with you emotionally. That just doesn’t happen here.
There are some bright moments on the album. “Hidden Knives” and lead single “White Offerings” have a great energy to them that’s missing from the rest of the record, yet still blend into the other tracks. “Still a Stranger” offers a great drive that’s missing for most of the album and “Dumb Kids” is high energy and pure fun, making longtime fans reflect on the band’s early days. The Decemberunderground-esque “Snow Cats” is enjoyable with its hypnotic music and lulling vocals, but doesn’t do much lyrically.
The band’s past records always had a good balance of songs that kick your butt into gear and sentimental moments that still management to be badass or morbidly sweet. Here, they sound like they’re going through the motions. Havok often sounds complacent as sings lyrics that try too hard to be proactive, like “Eyes gone dry/No more tears/Salt and shame upon my tongue/Dust on dust, drying flowers/We’ve been coming here too long (“Feed From the Floor”).” And this isn’t about AFI not making another Sing the Sorrow. Frankly, that would be boring. These songs just leave no attachment once they’re over. Whether they’re in your face or slow, there’s very little notable about them. Perhaps it shows Havok and Jade Puget have too much on their plate; they recorded Blaqk Audio’s third album around the same time. The Blood Album may be something that will grow on fans over time, but as it stands it’s not the huge, epic comeback we were expecting from AFI.