We welcome them back as "Dark Snow" gets the album underway and it's a wonderfully paced, rich, bassy electronic number...the band have clearly retained the soft-goth core sound that they fully embraced for "Decemberunderground" and it's essentially a gentle reintroduction, Havok's vocal complimenting the melancholy of their music ever so sweetly and it's a nice start. "Still A Stranger" briefly starts with some jolly acoustic guitar but soon becomes trademark AFI; bold chorus, up-beat rhythm and momentum carrying a genuinely catchy piece of modern alt.-rock. Havok's vocal touches on aggressive towards to climax but a far cry from their punk-rock past, but it still adds texture.
Album highlight "Get Hurt" is a quaintly vexed little offering sounding not unlike something you'd get from R.E.M. for example but, obviously with the modern, emo twist that AFI have perfected over the last decade, while other highlights include the intense, angst-driven "Dumb Kids", here harking back to the aforementioned punk-rock origins with a short but sweet stab of adrenaline, and by contrast, "Feed From The Floor" channels subtle nods to THE CURE before closing track "The Wind That Carries Me Away" blends blues tones with dramatic, pop-hooks for a powerful climax.
At 14 tracks long however there a couple of weaker moments, "Above The Bridge" for example suffers from repetition and "She Speaks The Language" while tense for the most part is let down by a fairly flat, unimaginative chorus. Overall though, AFI have delivered a strong and consistent album here...it may not have any immediate hits that leap out at you that previous records have produced but from start to finish it's a good listen. You can water down a record for a fast buck and a cheap shot at the charts but as they've proven here, blood is thicker than water and collectively, the fire inside still burns on.