Checking out what feels like the my first listen of an AFI album in over fifteen years, it seems this Warped Tour caterpillar has come out of the cocoon a full on goth death’s head moth with layers of lush 80s pop to boot. Finally completing the inevitable metamorphosis they began at the turn of this century.
AFI always seem to have a bit of a mixed legacy, somewhat down to their Hardcore roots and their association with Dexter Holland’s Nitro label. The band has come a long way since then and doesn’t get the credit which is due to them a lot of the time. The group has a strong stakehold in the dark 80s revival of the early noughties, making waves long before Emo raised it’s fringed head. Perhaps a classic problem for this bands place in the world: Too young and fresh for the original Misfits fiends and too much like the old guard for the younger Emotionally Melodic Hardcore ones.
Album number 11 kicks off with Banshees tinged number ‘twisted tongues’ with everything from the urgent drum beats to the stirring guitar lines, setting up the listener for this tour de force of goth emblazoned post punk. If there were any trepidation in the groups genuineness, track two completely kicks the doors down. Sounding like a forgotten relic from the Modern English back catalogue coupled with the irresistible singalong vocal delivery of frontman Davey Havok.
The band manages to dip it’s toe into more mainstream waters whilst maintaining their integrity, particularly with some cleaner production and electronic beats. Imagine the Killers during their more respectable runs had a creative epiphany when listening to a shit load of Bauhaus.
The main takeaway from this record is that the band has clearly shown growth without losing identity. The album is accessible without compromise and the band has shown different angles of their sound without falling into pitfalls or being pigeonholed. The strength of songs such as ‘no eyes’ and ‘looking tragic’, the brooding of tracks ‘back from the flesh’ and ‘tied to a tree’ show the potential to reach a whole new audience who may have put AFI in a box a long time ago without considering the groups ability to adapt within their skill set.
I for one have been pleasantly surprised by Bodies and cannot wait to coerce my friends into rolling the dice on this not so hidden gem. Give it a listen and surprise yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Author: Dan Kasm