AFI have never been strangers to the darker side of things, as clearly evident from the shadowy packaging and artwork of their latest EP, The Missing Man. However, what I’ve always admired about this band is the silver linings found in their music. After releasing arguably their darkest-toned LP to date in 2013’s Burials, they followed this effort with 2017’s AFI: The Blood Album, an album that incorporated many of their past styles into a single record. On this EP, AFI has found a way to pay homage to the path they blazed before, while still adding new elements to their trademark sound.
The promotion strategy leading up to The Missing Man threw a lot of die-hard AFI fans into a near panic, as Davey Havok’s image was removed from the band’s Instagram account, and later a press photo was released without Havok present. AFI was able to let the rumor mill swirl for a bit until the announcement came that this EP would be released, followed by a full-length effort in 2019.
Starting off the EP with the classic thrash punk sound that AFI has made a legacy on, “Trash Bat” gets the record started on the right foot. Havok’s lyrics on the chorus lean to their darker side of things when he sings, “Once more with a smile/Broken teeth and bloody eyes/In my (mean light), my, my, my trash bat.” Bassist Hunter Burgan and drummer Adam Carson shine brightly on this particular track as they hold down the beat cohesively, while still managing to pair nicely with the guitar and vocal parts.
“Break Angels” follows the standout single with some more anthemic vocals from Havok and unique guitar parts from Jade Puget. As brilliant as the two singles are from the EP, I found myself coming back to this song more than any of the others. It’s classic AFI, with a hint of what is to come on the highly anticipated next full-length effort.
While “Back Into The Sun” is not as bright as most of the other content found on The Missing Man, it serves as a nice change of pace from the collection of songs found here. The song itself features some strange vocal effects midway through the song, and relatively simple guitar riffs that don’t detract from the vocal delivery of Havok.
The first single released from the EP, “Get Dark,” follows this track with some breakneck hooks and beats. Havok lays on the heartbreak thick with lyrics such as, “You said you’d love me anyway/Give back an emotion on the pocket change/You’ve said my love is like your faith, your faith, your faith, your faith.” The song reminded me a bit of the Art of Drowning era where AFI was never shy about their punk roots, and this track is a clear reminder that this part of the band never truly went away.
The title track closes out this EP with a down-tempo side of AFI that they have showcased on earlier songs such as Decemberunderground’s “Endlessly, She Said,” but with more of a modern twist to their approach to songwriting. So in The Missing Man, AFI have carved out an EP that not only satisfies their long-time fans but also gives enough of a taste of what is to come in the next chapter of their ever-evolving discography.