AFI – The Missing Man

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Live – AFI August 1st, 2017

AFI returned to San Diego for the fifth time in eight months, playing at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre (what a mouthful that is) and brought Circa Survive and Citizen with them. I’ve seen AFI play many times, and had the luck of seeing Citizen several times on Warped Tour 2015 when I was on the road with one of the tour’s sponsors. On the other hand, I’d never seen Circa Survive before and their performance left me highly unimpressed.



Citizen played a quick eight song, 30-minute set including two tracks from their upcoming release As You Please, as well as selections from Everybody Is Going to Heaven (2015) and Youth (2013). Though the set was enjoyable, the mix was a tad bass heavy and there was nothing to really make their performance stand out on this occasion.


Circa Survive

When it came to the co-headlining performance of Circa Survive, I must say it was disappointing. Though the band played at least one song from each of their six full length releases, including their upcoming album The Amulet, aside from having an hour long set they were essentially another support act. Less than half of the crowd got up out of their seats to stand and sing along, and the band was set up in the same space Citizen had been given, without even having a drum riser for drummer Steve Clifford.



As soon as the beginning of AFI’s intro for the night, “Miseria Cantare”, began, everyone was up and out of their seats. The vibe was entirely different – you could tell that the crowd was much more excited for the true headliner of the night.

I’m a big fan of seeing shows outdoors, yet this was only the second time I’d seen AFI headline an outdoor show. To be honest, though the set was a tad on the short side for AFI (15 songs instead of their standard 17), it was the best sounding mix I’ve heard for them. Hunter Burgan’s bass was powerful, yet not muddy, Adam Carson’s kit and cymbals were punchy but well defined, Davey Havok’s vocals were clear and consistent, and Jade’s guitar sat just right in the mix.

With cuts from their six most recent albums, AFI provided a good variety though the lack of anything from their first four albums was noticeable – many other shows on the tour did have at least one or two songs from the first four records. Additionally, AFI stepped up their production from their winter tour adding more lighting including three large triangle shaped trusses containing various lamps and fixtures.

Highlights of the night included “37mm” being played for the fourth time ever and the first song of the encore, “This Time Imperfect” which is always a fan favorite. Though I may be biased, as AFI is one of my favorite bands, I do think that this is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen them put on.

Overall, this was a great package to see. If you’re near one of the handful of remaining shows on this tour, go check it out!


Photo by Fabio Banin.