AFI – AFI (The Blood Album) (Concord Music Group)

Genre – Rock / punk

AFI are back with their tenth studio album, this time teaming up with former Deftones produced Mike Hyde, and the signs suggest the four piece may be reborn.

Recent albums have suggested that the Californian punks may have been over the hill. The early anger of the first half of their catalogue seemed to be dwindling, but it’s difficult for any act to hold that pent up frustration when success kicks in and your life becomes a far cry from your upbringings.

After twenty two years in the game, AFI seem to have recaptured the early passion. Before going into the studio, Jade Puget and Davey Havok penned 60 tracks, before eventually narrowing it down to the final 14. This over preparation approach has paid off with an album that’s all killer no filler.

With a surprising synth heavy opener Dark Snow, The Blood Album may seem like another experiment from AFI. It will likely split the fans. But, do not write off this album on first listen. Give it two or three plays before making a decision. With each listen it will get better, particularly the first half.

Slow building Still A Stranger gets the show started, with a soft, acoustic opening before a flurry of electric sounds takes over and Havok’s deep vocals kick in. This is just the beginning of the electric punk sound that has become the band’s trademark over the last 22 years, as it continues through Hidden Knives and Above The Bridge.

The first half of this self-titled release is definitely a grower, but it’s the second half where AFI show their true colours. It’s pacey, its powerful and it packs all the venom punk fans want to see.

Dumb Kids sees fans treated to an overload of ferocious vocals, thunderous drumming and classic pop punk style playing reminiscent Tom DeLonge cicra 1999. It’s at this point when things start to get interesting, and heavy.

AFI have long been much more than a straight up punk act. It’s their ability to incorporate metal and hardcore elements into their sound that has led to them becoming a global act. It’s that variety that we see in Pink Eyes, a track that sees growling vocals paired with short, fast bolts of technical guitars and hard, heavy drum patterns.

The album’s stand out track White Offerings continues in this heavy style. It’s much more Against Me! than Bayside, with a intensely catchy chorus and steely licks that make for a hearty hardcore number that fans will gobble up.

The Blood Album has plenty of positive signs, and shows that the prolific partnership of Havok and Pudget are getting their groove back. It’s not perfect, but it will fill fans with a lot of hope going forward.

RUSHONROCK RATED – 7/10 2017 is hotting up!