Burials feels like a blended up mix of everything post-2000 AFI all bottled up into 13 tracks. In a nutshell, that statement sums up the general theme for this review.
First, allow me to backtrack just a bit (considering my obsession with the film “Fight Club” it makes sense that I flashback in almost every review) – 2009 saw AFI’s release of Crash Love, which, while good on paper, was a mild disappointment. The comparison to their previous records is what really made it less likable. Obviously, expectation can often create a sense of disappointment, but more often than not, the record still rocks. It’s just that initial “bummer”, so-to-speak. One thing to be noted from these California punk/rockers (and almost every other genre over the past 20 years) is just how diverse and well-rounded they truly are.
So, after four years of waiting and another Blaqk Audio (vocalist Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget) album, AFI have released another October (Fall) Classic.
Almost ten years to the day, Burials and Sing the Sorrow have some distinct commonalities. The introductions are both short, dark and haunting. “The Sinking Night” draws a ton of influence from “Miseria Cantare – The Beginning” and while the opening to a record isn’t what truly separates itself as a powerhouse, I firmly believe in that concept (this coming from a guy who judges books by their covers).
“A Deep Slow Panic” and “17 Crimes” sound as if they are straight out of the ’80s. Two of the premier, standout tracks from the album, they draw major roots from artists like The Cure or Joy Division, all while showcasing their own pop/rock transformation since the year 2000. Both songs reflect perfectly with mainstream hits from their past (distinctly hinting at their pop-heavy side). “17 Crimes” is actually a fantastic replica of their MySpace single “Rabbits are Roadkill on Route 37” (which should’ve been on an actual album). “A Deep Slow Panic” will battle for track of the year, not only because of its catchiness and structure (dark, pop), but also because it presses Davey Havok’s lyrical genius where it cannot be ignored.
Going much further beyond my obsession with Havok’s lyrical prowess, his unrealistic vocal range and power is still on full display on Burials. In the final two tracks (“Anxious” and “The Face Beneath the Waves”), the album’s slowdown makes it impossible to miss his unique skill-set – unless of course, you are immune to that sort of thing.
While there has been much discussion about the several similarities between this album and past efforts, including much from their influences as well, Havok mentioned that this record was very different than the last one (Crash Love), in that it is much more “layered” and “rich.” He also mentioned that it was “far less straightforward…” My sentiments, precisely.
What is most impressive about Burials is just how blended it seems, without feeling too replicated, of course. One thing that I forgot to mention is the monstrous grandeur that the record displays – almost too much so, at times. From start to finish, it is a fantastic production and while a lot of critics will bash this specific detail, I find that their ability to mesh darkness with light is breathtaking and beautifully elegant.
Dudes, it was a pleasure to listen to your ninth.