Last month AFI released a surprise single, "Get Dark", on their unsuspecting fans. With it, came the announcement of The Missing Man, the band's first EP since 2002's 336. Though there have been five full-length albums in the interim, it seemed like the days of the EP were ghosts upon the stage for AFI.
The Missing Man will be released digitally on December 7th, and on vinyl December 21st and is now available for pre-order.
The second single, "Trash Bat", drops tomorrow, November 30th — one week before the EP's official release.
But enough of the information. What does this EP sound like, and what do I think of it?
1. Trash Bat
This short, energetic song is somewhat atypical for a lead-off song as AFI usually build up the energy over time with dark, moody, swelling sounds. "Trash Bat", on the other hand, starts off with a drum fill and heads right into the first verse of the song. Stylistically, it reminds me very much of the band's work on Burials. The drums, in particular, remind me of "Wild" from that record, and the guitars and vocals in general seem era-appropriate. At first listen, I wasn't such a fan of this song but it is growing on me slowly! It clocks in at a short, but sweet, 2 minutes and 8 seconds and is the shortest track on the EP.
2. Break Angels
Another song that begins with drums (no complaints here, Adam Carson does a great job behind the kit). Sonically, it reminds me of a blend between the band's sounds on Burials and their self-titled album (aka The Blood Album). It is at this point where I start to realize that Davey Havok's vocals seem to be at their strongest point in years. The driving beat throughout the choruses of the song really pounds the energy in, and won't let you forget the song.
3. Back Into the Sun
Personally, I think the intro and the first verse of this song aren't amazing... But once the solo kicks in around the two-minute mark, the energy builds. Then things get thinned out for a quick acoustic bridge section before jumping into the last chorus. Great production and execution by the band's guitarist, Jade Puget.
4. Get Dark
By now you've heard this song, so I won't go into much detail. Or if you haven't yet, find the video for it below. The one thing I will mention, I love that Hunter Burgan's basslines are highlighted in the verses of the song. It's nice when he isn't buried in the mix!
5. The Missing Man
This is where the EP gets real. It's by far my favorite track on the release, and it explores entirely new directions for AFI. The dark and mysterious guitar in the intro is nothing new for the band, but the eastern-inspired vocals in the background add a nice touch to the darkness of the song. The dark, brooding feeling of the song is one of the reasons I fell in love with AFI's music over a decade ago, and I'm very excited that AFI can explore new sounds while still maintaining one of the things that makes them so special.
Once we get to the bridge, there are some more international influences with hand drums and guitar styles that AFI hasn't really explored in the past. It's difficult to put into words how good and unique this song is, and I'm really saddened that it wasn't one of the singles on the EP – but then again, it may just be too different and a bit of a shock.
One last thing to note, the band is self-releasing the EP on Ex Noctem Nacimur (roughly translated, "we are born of the night" — thanks Google), which has been their publishing company for roughly two decades. The status of the music industry in 2018 shows just how easy it has become for well-known artists to release without the support of a major label, and I think it's a great change for the future of music.