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11 Up-And-Coming Artists That Every AFI Fan Should Be Listening To

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[Photos by: Matthew Welsh/AFI, James Duran/Slaughterhouse, Chain Cult/Instagram]

Despite all the territory they’ve covered in their near-thirty tenure, AFI retains an impressively conspicuous identity. It’s the Tim Burton condition in which, despite rejecting the confines of any categorical genre with each new release, they have an innate flair that renders them instantly recognizable. But that’s not to say that they exist outside the realm of reasonable comparison. We scoured the alternative underground to prove that point. And while we can’t promise the recreation of that first magical moment you first heard Sing The Sorrow, we did pluck a handful of new music recommendations from the AFI ethos. 

Representing their entire arc to date, here are 11 up-and-coming artists that every AFI fan should be listening to.


It’s been well over two decades since AFI molted their steadfast hardcore shell and spilled out to the further reaches of the larger alternative genre. But even with 20/20 hindsight, their fanbase remains divided over the transformation. If you’re one of the purists who intend to live and die by the early Nitro era—or even just an unfastidious connoisseur of their larger discography—then OVEREXPOSURE are a must-listen. A modern pinnacle of punk ferocity, they ooze fervent and frenzied energy through cathartic abrasions. It’s a raw display that’s clearly grounded (but not stuck) in ‘90s nostalgia. 


Like pre-Sing The Sorrow AFI, Slaughterhouse exists in that margin between classic punk and ominous, gothic-tinged rock. Through rabid riffs and near-suffocating aggression, they exude a constant, unfeigned menace factor that many new artists miss the mark on. But this isn’t a case of a loud bark and no bite. With a straightforward, no-punches-pulled sort of lyrical style, they could very well go head-to-head with 1995’s Davey Havok for the title of “Angstiest Force in the Room.”


The Zoanoids are admittedly difficult to pin down. But hey, you ought to expect a bit of eclecticism in a list of AFI-reminiscent artists. Depending on which end you jump into their catalog, you’ll find them skirting between horror and pop punk or driving up the humidity with post-punk provocation. And that might sound like justification enough for placing them here. However, the sweet spot exists where the line gets blurred. There, their thrashy, combustible energy melds with catchy melodies and voluminous vocals to answer a question you’ve likely never asked: what would Crash Love have sounded like if it was a Nitro Records product? 

Grave Pleasures 

AFI proved early in their punk incumbency that a good hook doesn’t need to come at the expense of edge. But if Sing The Sorrow is any indicator, the trifecta includes a generous dash of anthemic theatricality. Grave Pleasures strikes that careful balance with a commanding presence, calling back to 80s classics with shredding guitars underscored by a distinctly gothic ambiance. The performance is deliciously danceable, bold, short of brash, and simultaneously haunting.

The Nightmares 

Perhaps the most spellbinding element of AFI’s sonic profile is the contrasts between dark tonality and the unexpected glimmers of pop. The Nightmares channel similar magic with striking precision, toeing the outer boundary of punk inclinations through a perfumed haze. Their sound is evocative of the Crash Love and Bodies eras in that way, dulcet and dreamy, albeit not without the occasional moment of steely severity.

Death Valley Dreams

Despite galloping through stylistic progression from album to album, AFI has maintained a remarkably consistent thread. It’s like a strong coffee, more broody than bitter, that’s well-complemented by any flavor of the week. Death Valley Dreams tap into that essence, pairing it with an elegant, indie-leaning take on modern new wave. And, contrary to the imagery their name may call to mind, the result is anything but grim. Through dynamic structures and swirling shadows, it’s impossible not to lose yourself in the shimmering depths.

House Of Harm

Any AFI fan will attest that the band can fill a room—not just via ticket sales, but with a presence. Be it from the stage or through speakers, their songs just transform the air into something semisolid. You’ll notice that House Of Harm achieves the same effect with polished, post-punk viscosity juxtaposed by sharp stabs of synth. It’s invigorating though moody, evoking the feeling of an adrenalized dream in which you’re caught running through invisible molasses. 


For a band called “A Fire Inside,” AFI has shown us no shortage of moments colder than life’s throes (sorry). While the temperature has generally been rising since the all-out storm of Decemberunderground, the Bodies era brought us a few gusts in the form of “Back From The Flesh,” “Tied To A Tree,”—and later, “Caught.” For those who could sit in that season indefinitely, captivated by flurries of foreboding synths dancing across a spacious backdrop of atmospheric coldwave, there are Topographies

Vision Video

If our title band’s “Cure” quality had been indistinct up through 2004, their MTV Icon rendition of “Just Like Heaven” shifted it violently into focus. From there, the flicker of likeness has been a reliable part of their charm, underscoring their transcendence into the post-punk arena throughout the 2010s. Though admittedly a bit less multidisciplinary in their approach, Vision Video boasts a similar undercurrent. Like AFI, they deviate from the heavy-handed production and borderline-excessive distortions that are all the rage in modern goth rock. Instead, crisp and refined instrumentation cultivates a full-bodied experience that’s only intensified by stunning lyrical profundity. 


Through most AFI eras, we’ve seen only fringe displays of Davey Havok and Jade Puget’s demonstrated electronic pop sensibilities. Bodies was the first record in which the Blaqk Audio bleed-over felt, at times, truly palpable. Now, if you bottled those moments and added an industrial charge, you’d end up with something like VR SEX. Perhaps that’s a roundabout way of describing a sound that boils down to synth-powered death rock, but there’s a pitch-black effervescence there that can’t be understated. It’s tireless in the way of tail lights flying down the highway—an apt ambient scene to contextualize sharply psychological, concept-based narratives that probe the bizarreness of our everyday existence.

Chain Cult

We’ve established that there are no true dupes for AFI. However, throw Chain Cult into your favorite playlist, and you may take a second glance at any given track. It’s a game of “Guess Who?” set in the melodic middle ground of post-punk and post-hardcore, where agitated riffs and rousing drums fuel temperamental drama. But that’s not to say they’re not patently unique outfits. The resemblance falters where the vocals start, diverging toward an equally delicious, gritty counterpart of Havok’s polished but penetrating range. 

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