Focus Grouping with AFI

TL;DR Summary Haiku:

“AFI album, it’s boring and uninspired, I would not buy it”

The first review up is AFI’s “Blood Album” which is great because I am nothing if not an AFI apologist.  And let me say, they have made it almost impossible to defend this album with my usual: “it’s just different” refrain.  I don’t like to be negative and I would rather be constructive…but, it is really hard with this album.  I don’t expect bands to stay the same forever and I don’t mind when they change their sound.  This is different.

This album feels like AFI’s record label put a cross-section of their fans in a room with a one-way mirror and asked them to describe what they would want in a new AFI album.  This album sounds like a band that is trying to check off every box to please the different “generations” of fans but accomplishes nothing because they put every piece of fruit they have into the blender and produced a tasteless mess.

You hear classic AFI in some tracks with the chanting, the choruses, and the background vocals.  The difference here is that it sounds like a cover band without the intensity, without the fire inside (see what I did there?).  You also hear some pop, synth-pop,  pop-punk and, whatever other genres you can throw at me.  And, whatever, I’m fine with that in theory.  They don’t have to remake Black Sails just to be great again.

Honestly, there is probably a good EP in here somewhere because the music is not as bad as the execution.  The problem for me is, the tracks aren’t universally bad, they are just boring.  Oh, and it is time to talk about the Davey Havok in the room.

It’s not the music, it’s the songs.  I don’t usually get caught up in what the lyrics mean but it is another thing to be constantly distracted by bad poetry.  How many times can you repeat “strange” or “stranger” in a song without annoying the listener?  How many times can you sing “white offerings” before it gets old?  How can a band mature in reverse with the content?  Davey annoys with aplomb on this album, and this is coming from an avid AFI fan.  (I still have my limited edition turn of the century AFI vans).

So would I buy this album? Stream it? Avoid it at all costs?  Check them out on tour first?

I would stream it a few times more.  Maybe it will grow on me (says the apologist).

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