AFI - Black Sails In The Sunset (Cover Artwork)


Black Sails In The Sunset (1999)


How do you introduce a album that you hold more dear to yourself then almost any other collection of songs in the world? Out of the billions of records released throughout the years, this is one of the few that I consider to be among the best. So how could I open up a review for this album in a way that embodies all the qualities that are great about it, but at the same time doesnt make me seem like a fanboy, therefore negating my opinion? There really is no way for me to do that. This album is THAT great. Here is my description of the musical rollercoaster that is AFI's Black Sails In The Sunset.

1. Strength Through Wounding - The chant that you have to know at any AFI show. A dramatic and catchy opening to a dramatic and catchy album. This is the first hint of AFI's true nature that was ever heard. It was hard like Shut you mouth and open your eyes, but much more raw and powerful. You could almost immediately tell that Jade was a much better match for this band then Mark. In almost no time at all the last yells end, and the album finally begins with...

2. Porphyria - A great opening song. Quick, energetic, and the first time we heard the new and improved Davey Havok at work. His vocals were as raw as the music alongside them, and this song never let up on speed and intensity til the very end. The lyrics were also something new to the AFI formula. Proud of Ya was funny. Shut your mouth and open your eyes was angry. This was poetic. It was still angry and depressed, but the lyrics were great...but more on that later. The song fades out, and the bass leads us into....

3. Exsanguination- Basically more of the same goodness found in the second track. Fast, heavy, dark, beautiful. Great chorus as well.

4. Malleus Maleficarum - This is where you know AFI has entered a whole new stage of writing in their career. This is my favorite song on the album, and one of the best songs I have ever heard. The whole song is like one giant buildup that releases at the chorus, until at the end it just completely breaks loose. This is also my lyrical high point of the album. The whole song is layer upon layer of different metaphors that all work together to create a song that can be viewed from many different angles, and interpreted many different ways. Its title, and burning theme make us think of a witch hunt, while the imagery of autumn makes us feel it is something more personal. Is it about alienation? A tribute to the days of the salem witch hunts? Davey 's past memorys being triggered by the season of fall? Only one person really knows, and hes not telling. Beautifully crafted song that demonstrates that you dont necesarily have to write complicated music to create complicated songs.

5. Narrative Of Soul Against Soul - More speed and energy...and it is sort of the spiritual succesor to the song "A Single Second" as both use a dual chorus line. It is energetic, and keeps the momentum flowing from one masterpiece song into another. The other masterpiece song would happen to be....

6. Clove Smoke Catharsis - The most emotionally dramatic song on the album. You can almost hear the sadness inside of the music, and Jade makes very good use or off-key guitar chords to create a ugly mood in the harder intro, chorus, and ending riffs, which puts them in complete contrast of the undistorted and beautiful verse lines. Davey proves here that he can sing just as well as he can howl and that not many people can convey there sadness through there words as well as he can. "If only pure sweetness was offered...whys this bitter taste left in my mouth?"

7. The Prayer Position- A departure from the rest of the album with its heavy emphasis on rhythm and its sudden middle song break, another one of Black Sails very best. Oh, and no song has more energy or a better gang sing along then the chorus of this song. Absolutely nuts live.

8. No Poetic Device - You guessed it, another great song with great lyrics. I especially love the breakdown which switches between screaming and singing back and forth. Its a great sing along.

9. The Last Kiss - Not really that special outside of its cool lyrics and chorus. That is until that odd little guitar effect near the end. That part of the song is quite is this song.

10. Weathered Tome - Probably this albums weakest song. It is a throwback to AFI's hardcore days, and is not bad, but just doesnt hold up as well as the rest of the album.

11. At A Glance - You can feel the album winding down now. Again, a good song, but not a stand out. Not quite filler, but not quite great. I like the chorus of this song a lot though.

12. God Called In Sick Today / Midnight Sun - A perfect ending track that pretty much completely embodies all the things that are great about AFI. It has Davey singing, screaming, and just generally getting into it. The music is dramatic, and uses many of the best parts of AFI's now trademark style, and it closes off this chapter of the bands history quite nicely. It should also be mentioned that the hidden track, Midnight Sun, is a awesome song too. Actually, I think its so good, it should have been part of the album rather then hidden at the end, but im thankful they put it on the CD at all. I dont know how to describe I wont, but definetly listen to it.

And that my friends is that. This CD has everything that I like about music in it. It has a very raw and deep mix sound, with the guitar being very prominent and powerful. The music is heavy, melodic, and most of all emotional. This is as close to perfect as albums get. If not for the weakness of tracks 10 and 11 in relation to the rest of the album, it just might have been perfect. But im sure as hell not complaining. A nearly flawless score for a nearly flawless album.