AFI - Burials (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Burials (2013)

Republic / Universal

As AFI have traveled further and further away from their east bay hardcore roots over the past decade-plus, they've also reinvented themselves on nearly every album. After the catchy horror punk of Black Sails in the Sunset and The Art of Drowning, the band went darker and heavier on Sing The Sorrow. They incorporated more elements of screamy post-hardcore on Decemberunderground, then traded that for sexed-up pop-rock on Crash Love. Unsurprisingly, their new album (and first in four years) Burials doesn't really sound like any of its predecessors; it's the most layered, atmospheric album AFI have written in their career, and also one of the most interesting.

The most immediately apparent element of Burials is a recaptured grandeur; "The Sinking Night" is essentially an extended intro track, but it sounds massive. Adam Carson's drums build mountains of tension; Jade Puget's guitars brood and squeal in the background; Davey Havok's voice, loaded with power and echo, towers over it all. It's a huge setup that seamlessly segues into the piano-sprinkled "I Hope You Suffer," which effectively uses empty space through its verses to make its heavy chorus that much more impactful. It's also a shining moment for Havok, whose undeniable vocal range is on full display; he croons and the howls through the verses, before unleashing a more gruff, old-school yell in the chorus.

This heavy, goth-influenced rock carries much of the album as well, such as on the bass-driven "No Resurrection" and the heavily industrial 1-2 punch of "The Embrace" and "Wild," the latter of which has a distinct Pretty Hate Machine-esque vibe, especially in its percussion and tempo. "Rewind" features a powerful chorus and some positively dizzying fills from Carson. Closer "The Face Beneath The Waves" is heavy on synths and atmospherics, with the production on Havok's vocals far more appropriately distanced.

AFI's poppier elements make their mark on Burials as well. The driving "A Deep Slow Panic" is like a sped-up Cure/Smiths hybrid with a soaring, melodic chorus, while the excellent "17 Crimes" is a faint throwback to the band's earlier, more gaunt work from the early 2000s with an equally, impossibly catchy chorus. "Heart Stops" is the goth ballad Robert Smith never wrote; you can almost visualize kids pushing the hair out of their faces as they stare at the ground, singing along.

For an album with so many disparate styles and a longish 49-minute running time, Burials feels surprisingly quick and cohesive compared to other, latter-era AFI albums. The band play to their strengths throughout, but also try some new things and most of them work. Nice surprise.