Released Oct. 22nd on Universal Republic Records
Burials is AFI’s darkest album since their breakthrough Sing the Sorrow a decade ago, and I mean that musically, lyrically, thematically, and literally: Compare the cover art of their last 4 records and one senses a deliberate shift back to Sorrow‘s blackness after the white phase of 2006’s electronics-inflected Decemberunderground and the shimmery gold of 2009’s pop-leaning Crash Love. Compared to its predecessor, Burials is a gloomy and angst-filled, delving headlong into AFI’s love of goth and industrial rock coupled with their flair for movie-sized stylized operatics. Opener “The Sinking Night” recalls the post-apocalyptic vibe of Sing the Sorrow‘s own introductory track, both setting the stage for the epic strokes to follow. Lead single “I Hope You Suffer” follows a tribal drum beat while Davey Havok rails against a spurning lover.
A post-punk vein courses through other songs, such as the Cure-esque guitar hooks of “A Deep Slow Panic” and the hints of Joy Division in “No Resurrection”. Goth is the order of the day on “Heart Stops”, while an industrial edge dominates “The Conductor” and “The Embrace”, the latter evoking Nine Inch Nails-like cinematic strokes. “Elsewhere, the band’s knack for pop-influenced punk drives the ode to youthful freedom “17 Crimes”, the love-turned-dystopia tale “Greater Than 84”, and the rapid pulse of “Wild”. It’s in these euphoric moments that the band succeeds the most on Burials. Album closer “The Face Beneath the Waves” is a haunted, menacing, romantic piece that brings together many of the themes AFI have become masters at harnessing.
Lyrically, the emotions that pervade Burials are betrayal, anxiety, injury, and weakness. Someone must have really spurned Davey Havok, who delivers despairing lines like “Your love was written so true, and now I can’t speak your name” and “you taught me this: true love won’t be remembered” alongside barbs like “I opened my heart to you, you lied just to reach inside” and “may your cruelty find you, may the scars you left in me dig into you twice as deep”. His poetic passion is intense and laced with intelligence and melodrama, his emoting having much more in common with the dark romanticism of ’80s goth than it does with the emo-pop AFI were stereotyped as in the mid-2000s.
Burials is dark but also very strong; operatic and melodramatic but equally bold and hook-filled. Compared to the more straightforward alternative rock of Crash Love, it feels larger-than-life in a good way, the kind of record AFI seem to have been building toward over the last decade.