Written By: James Swigart
Label: Interscope – Rating:
Davey Havok’s vocals soar, leap, and, most importantly, blend. Havok doesn’t show the largest range, but he never sounds strained or disengaged. As sublime as Havok’s vocals are, the best part of Crash Love is the guitar. Each song features savage, beautiful guitar from an inspired Jade Puget. Puget’s guitar sounds very similar at times to that of Tool’s Adam Jones and at other times to that of Robert Smith.
We heard a pronounced similarity to Hysteria era Def Leppard guitar in the yearning, epic, stunning “Darling, I Want to Destroy You” and in the pulsing “End Transmission.” Guitar in the bonus tracks “Fainting Spells” and “100 Words” reminds us of early Metallica. Puget plays throughout with the ferocity of Brian May on the guitar classics Queen II and Sheer Heart Attack. The consistency of guitar in Crash Love is similar to that in Big Country’s masterpiece The Crossing.
The consistent, supple backing choruses remind us of Van Halen, Queen, and AD/DC. Drummer Adam Carson keeps an excellent beat and his minimalist approach brings to mind DJ Bonebrake and Echo and the Bunnymen’s late, always missed, Pete de Freitas. Tool bassist Justin Chancellor is expertly channeled by Hunter Burgan. Burgan’s bass fills open spaces with precision and helps keep a charging, mesmerizing beat.
There is an anthemic feel to many of the tracks but not as anthemic as some Rise Against or some Linkin Park. The production by Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee gives us what we need – clean and nuanced sound. “Medicate,” the first single, features the calming lyrics: “Medicate here with me now as we lose ourselves in this and ignore that you don’t even know my name.” “Medicate” features Crash Love at its best – urgent, varied vocals; driving, hypnotic guitar; consistent, professional pacing; and rousing choruses.
AFI’s sound on Crash Love is grand and bold. The songs are lively throughout and not too long nor too short. This not small slice of heaven hits fifth gear midway with the quartet “Veronica Sawyer Smokes,” “Okay, I Feel Better Now,” “Medicate,” and “I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here.” The deluxe version of the the album includes the four excellent bonus tracks “Fainting Spells,” “We’ve Got the Knife,” “Where We Used to Play,” and “100 Words.”
The regular version of Crash Love contains 12 songs and lasts a tad over 43 minutes. AFI is a major band both popularly and musically; a level of popularity touched briefly by the brilliant Echo and the Bunnymen and never touched by the seminal X nor by the criminally underrated Big Country. Crash Love shows that AFI wants to continue to earn whatever popularity it gets by playing incredible songs.