New AFI album returns to anthemic style of earlier work

Since the release of their 1995 debut album, Answer That and Stay Fashionable, Northern California’s AFI has placed five Top 10 singles on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart—including the No. 1 hit ‘Miss Murder.’ The quartet’s breakout release is 2003’s Sing the Sorrow, which was produced Jerry Finn (Morrissey, Blink-182, The Offspring) and Butch Vig (Foo Fighters, Green Day, Nirvana) at Cello Studios in Los Angeles. The album via DreamWorks was critically acclaimed and reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200. It eventually went platinum behind the Top 10 Alternative Songs singles ‘Girl's Not Grey’ and ‘Silver And Cold’ along with the Top 20 alternative track, ‘The Leaving Song Pt. II.’

Sing the Sorrow paved the way for AFI to enjoy even greater success in 2006 with the release of their seventh studio album, Decemberunderground, which topped the Billboard 200 with first week sales of more than 180,000 copies. “It's an amazing feeling to have something that you believe in so strongly, that is so much a part of you, touch so many people,” states frontman Davey Havok in a news release. “But it was truly our fans that [sic] did this. They have brought us this recognition and we are deeply honored.”

AFI's new self-titled album is dubbed “The Blood Album” and is available in limited editions of colored vinyl discs that correspond with the four blood types (A, O, B, AB). AFI (The Blood Album) was recorded at Megawatt Studios in Los Angeles and produced by AFI guitarist, Jade Puget, who was assisted by Matt Hyde (Deftones, Slayer, Monster Magnet).

The new 14-track LP via Concord Music Group is the follow-up to 2013's Burials, which entered the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and scored the alternative and mainstream rock singles, ‘I Hope You Suffer’ and ‘17 Crimes.’ “[Burials] is of silence, of burials, and the burials that result from that silence,” Havok tells about the previous album. “It’s of betrayal, cruelty, weakness, anxiety, panic—deep and slow—despair, injury and loss. And in this it is shamefully honest and resolutely unforgiving.”

Burials arrived four years after 2009's Crash Love, but Havok tells Rolling Stone his songwriting partnership with Puget is never dictated by time. “We just come from the place of wanting to be 100 percent happy with the works we create, rather than fulfilling some sort of demand, whether it be from a label or a consumer,” explains the singer. “It's really the modern standard of short attention spans, and it puts us in a difficult position. Quantity typically eclipses quality these days, but we can't bow to that.”

The track ‘White Offerings’ was released in late 2016 as a teaser for AFI (The Blood Album). calls it “one of the most instantly catchy songs the band has ever penned.” In addition, first official single, ‘Snow Cats,’ is noted for how it “dials back the intensity, aiming for a distinctively lighter mood over the verse and boasts a fuzz-drenched, despondent chorus,” according to Loudwire. ‘Snow Cats’ is currently No. 42 on the Mediabase Alternative airplay chart and No. 39 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Rolling Stone reports both songs “lean toward the anthemic style of … Sing the Sorrow.”

Watch AFI in the official music video for ‘Snow Cats’ from the veteran post-punk group’s new LP, AFI (The Blood Album).

As A Matter of Fact…

* AFI (A Fire Inside) was formed in 1991 as a hardcore punk revivalists band made up of Ukiah, Calif., high school friends Davey Havok (vocals), Markus Stopholese (guitar), Vic Chalker (bass), and Adam Carson (drums).

* Geoff Kresge replaced Chalker on bass as AFI issued several vinyl EPs between 1993 and 1995, leading up to their first full-length studio album, Answer That and Stay Fashionable, which was produced by Tim Armstrong and released in July 1995 on Wingnut Records.

* The next two AFI albums on independent Nitro Records (1996’s Very Proud of Ya and 1997’s Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes) were followed by personnel shifts including Kresge being replaced by bassist Hunter Burgan and Stopholese leaving in favor of guitarist Jade Puget, who assumed co-songwriter duties with Havok.

* The new lineup recorded the 1998 EP A Fire Inside, followed the next year by the full-length album, Black Sails in the Sunset. The final project for Nitro—2000’s The Art of Drowning—attracted a broader fan base with singles such as ‘Days Of The Phoenix.’ It is also the first AFI album to break into the Billboard 200.

* AFI began working with producers Jerry Finn and Butch Vig for their major label debut on DreamWorks titled, Sing the Sorrow. The 2003 record marks AFI's mainstream breakthrough, going platinum behind the alternative and mainstream rock hits ‘Girl's Not Grey,’ ‘Silver And Cold,’ and ‘The Leaving Song Pt. II.’

* The band topped the Billboard 200 in 2006 with Decemberunderground, followed by a summer tour. AFI returned to the studio in 2008 and released Crash Love in September 2009, featuring the Top 10 alternative single ‘Medicate.’ More touring and a two year hiatus followed.

* In 2013, AFI returned with new album Burials, which includes the Top 25 pop-punk anthem, ‘17 Crimes.’ AFI is currently supporting AFI (The Blood Album) by touring major cities in the U.S. and Canada through February. The band is also opening for the Deftones for three shows in the UK (May 5-7) before appearing at the Download Festival (June 9-11).

* Havok’s side project featuring No Doubt‘s Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, and Adrian Young is tentatively called DreamCar. The singer tells that while songs are complete, they’re as yet unnamed. Young adds the project is “One of the most exciting things I’ve been a part of.”

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