Burials by AFI This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The fan's of AFI have often been separated into two, radically distinct categories: those who have supported the band since their esoteric horror punk days, and the deluge of new followers who hopped on the bandwagon following the group's groundbreaking release Sing the Sorrow, which catapulted their newfangled brand of tortured alternative rock into the mainstream eye.

Some self-declared 'purists' have been quick to decry the evolving sound of AFI, accusing them of swapping their earlier aggression for accessible hooks and an over-polished production technique. I think, though, that some of these hardened pessimists would be quick to retract their criticism when exposed to the band's latest effort Burials, an album which seems to combine their past sounds into a cohesive, addicting package.

Right off the bat, the bands traditional obsession with bleak, pensive musicality is called to the forefront. The album opens with “The Sinking Night”, marching drums and a dystopian guitar lick carrying the charge. It's a clever and effective opener, culminating with a barrage of punishing power chords, segueing perfectly into “I Hope You Suffer”, a fluidly menacing track containing both a punk's caustic lyricism, and the reserved, efficient musicianship expected from a band of AFI's breed. The layering of disparate sounds to produce a new vision is quite commendable on this album, solidifying their place in the alt-rock consciousness of today.

This positive trend continues throughout the album. “Greater Than 84” is an uptempo surprise situated towards the end of the album, punctuated by a jagged, satisfying guitar riff, and a relentlessly catchy chorus which could have been sung by any given pop-punk band circa 2001. “Anxious” takes on the form of a driving, anthemic expression of pure melancholy. As the swirling backup vocals and wild guitars sweep the song to a close, the singer Davey Havok's sentiments, whether actively expressed or not, are achingly palpable. It's moments like these where the purpose behind the album really becomes clear, the desire of the band to unite both their major eras under a storm of existentialist angst.

Overall, while the artistic merits of this sort of music can be thoroughly debated, Burials is an album which offers seemingly endless replay value, a valuable testament to the repurposing of past sounds and messages.

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