AFI have definitely matured over the years. Their first jump was from a snotty, upstart California hardcore band with a heavy Misfits obsession to emo-goth superstars with their breakthrough 2003 epic Sing the Sorrow. That album and its 2006 follow-up, Decemberunderground, found lead singer Davey Havok and the rest of AFI fully embracing their dark, if still glitter-laden take on grandly produced and anthemic rock that somehow bridged the wide gap between the panicked, emo-soul of Fall Out Boy and the macabre, electronic-tinged sound of Marilyn Manson. 2009’s Crash Love, with its neon-colored nods to ‘80s Burundi beat pop and post-Smiths Morrissey, brought their sound full-circle, with songs that were the some of the most pop-oriented of the band’s career. 2013’s Burials finds AFI returning to a darker sound both lyrically and musically, without compromising on their trademark infectious hooks. As showcased on the malevolent, cinematic opening track, "The Sinking Night," Burials is certainly an album of epic gloom and angsty menace which often plays as if it was written as a soundtrack to a stylized thriller or a slick anime film about lost love and tortured obsession. On "The Sinking Night," Havok croons, "The blackness drips down from both my hands/ The gold in my palm was mistaken for sand/ Can you feel it?" We definitely can, and the rest of Burials only deepens the feeling. Of course, even though Havok never loosens his death grip here in terms of overall intensity, there are still moments of pop euphoria. To these ends, "17 Crimes" is a driving ode to teenage freedom, and "Greater Than 84," with its allusions to George Orwell's literary classic 1984, turns living in a dystopian city into a metaphor for a failed relationship. With his Bowie-esque knack for theatrically morphing his visage to fit each album, Havok (a career-long straight-edge vegan) is an often misunderstood, and underappreciated pop maverick. It's often too easy to focus on the eyeshadow or slant of his quaff, and miss the underlying intelligence and melodramatic wit that informs much of AFI's work. Similarly, guitarist Jade Puget, AFI's resident Mark Ronson and musical director, defies quick categorization with arrangements that draw upon the symphonic grandeur of Tony Visconti, as much as the titanic industrial wallop of Nine Inch Nails. With Burials, Havok and AFI don't just bury the castle of wrecked relationships, they put to rest any notions that they aren't kings of their dystopian rock kingdom.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar