AFI - Cave Paintings (invented 2020 AFI album art)

Over several years, as a hobby, I used to just come up with song titles for different bands, and make fake tracklists for non-existant albums… kind of as a (very) simple exercise in creative writing. After maybe 3 different iterations of doing this with AFI tracklists over different periods, I decided to kind of take some of the best titles and make actual album art for such a non-existent album. I basically have an idea of what each one of these songs sounds like - various styles they’ve done in the past, like something more post-punk leaning, new-wave, punk rock, ballads, and so on. And there seemed to be a reference in all of the titles to being in the dark or silent, being primal, nature and even some pagan elements, but also making art… so I settled on an album title of Cave Paintings. There’s some classic AFI elements in some of the song titles (Leporid, Cinder, 16 Frames Per Second - a metaphorical reference to silent film -, among other things). And of course the first track would be a classic intro. (And there’s even a hidden track! canyoufindit? So technically there are :skull_and_crossbones: 13 :skull_and_crossbones: tracks. Nice.)

The artwork is mainly based on a picture of Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands) located in Santa Cruz, Argentina - cave paintings that are dated to around 10,000 years ago, which tie into the album title and also the title of the 2nd track Handprints This has been overlaid with shadowy tree branches and such, and the coloring has been adjusted so there’s sort of a dark black/blue and brown color scheme to tie the whole thing together. I also tried my hand at what I thought would be a pretty neat AFI logo… kind of reminiscent of the DU logo meets the StS logo, but with a definite new flair. Also, as you can see on the back art, I sort of merged the title and logo together for one more cohesive Cave Paintings logo (that would presumably be used for merch or something).

If there’s interest, I could explain some of my thoughts about each one of these imaginary tracks, what kinds of sounds they might have, lyrical meanings, and even some of the track titles that didn’t make the cut.

Clearly I’ve put too much thought and effort into this, but really it was a fun way to kill some time over a period of months (or years). I have little to no graphic design background (I do have a background in some traditional art and am a UI/UX developer), so I’m pretty proud of how this turned out and just wanted to share it with others who might appreciate this sort of thing.

All the malarkey on the back with like copyrights and production credits and whatever is just that: malarkey. But I wanted to include it for layout purposes, and I guess it could make a fun April Fools joke if AFI news HQ still does that sort of thing.

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If this was official, I’d be hype as hell.

All of your titles are very fitting, diverse and VERU MUCH sound like AFI.

“MOONLIT RAIN” and especially “VOID OF COURSE” are my favorites…

LMAO, you could seriously fake out AFI fans with this… “LEAKED album art!!!”

Good stuff @afi_ske !

^ Yes, please… you even have me thinking of neat title tracks.

“THE FINAL TRAPPED THOUGHT” as a track 1

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OK so I have enough time to do a few. I got some descriptions for the first 5 tracks here. Probably will do 2 more posts to cover the rest of the tracks on the album, and maybe a 3rd for some tracks that didn’t make the cut (maybe we can call them b-sides)

THE DARK THAT BINDS US ALL
Strength Through Wounding was always about how the band and the fans were one in the same, a sing along for everyone, binding us together. I felt that Miseria Cantare was more about exalting the band, and having them invite you into their exalted status. Miseria definitely had a more personal lyric for Davey, but one that we could all relate to. It’s been a while since we had a proper opening song, something new for a show, so this was my take on that. Throughout the years with the band, they’ve gone through many changes, but never lost the darkness, and that’s what keeps us all coming back. It’s a running theme - The Dark That Binds Us All. The darkness in the cave, the animalistic community of a show, the relatable darkness in the lyrics. Musically, I think of the opening riff of Wolf Parade’s Lazarus Online with some sort of sing-along chant and the explosive darkness of Burials with a touch of Black Sails. Anthemic unique drums throughout, big tom work, classic Adam stuff.

HANDPRINTS
Gotta kick off the album with an earworm. After the previous dark sing-along intro, you’re invested in the album, but you need to know what else to expect beside the darkness. Handprints would almost be the closest thing to a title track for the album, as the album art is based on the ancient Cave of Hands artwork in Argentina that is simply stenciled handprints. You can also make handprints in snow. A simple form of art. Primordial art. Even in the darkness, in bleak dark caves, we need art, we need music. The songs on this album are cave paintings. They are the handprints. This is a show starter like Girl’s Not Grey; everyone is going to sing along to this one. Musically I get these angular bouncy vibes like The Celluloid Dream, Love Like Winter, or Cold Hands. Jade probably uses that bridge toggle switch thing like in The Last Kiss somewhere in this track. There could be a little solo too, who knows. Davey goes oh! Energetic crowd-pleaser.

MOONLIT RAIN
Big 80s post-punk pop influences here. Think The Cure, Echo, even maybe Tears for Fears. More on the poppy side of all these bands… Friday I’m in Love, I Melt With You by Modern English, The Killing Moon. Veronica Sawyer Smokes meets Greater Than 84, but with lots of spaciness, big synth lines like the end of Above the Bridge. Contender for a single. Nostalgic but upbeat love song, with veins of darkness. Maybe sometimes our cave paintings are only lit by moonlight. Maybe they’re washed away by rain. But moonlit rain is still beautiful.

HOWLS IN THE STATIC
Probably the heaviest, fastest song on the album, I picture this as a sort of a mixture of if you took Wild from Burials and just took it a step further, back to their Black Sails days. Fast punk with electronic elements. Like something from Killing Joke or Stabbing Westward. Davey howling through electronic static. But also, a call to the fans, another way of saying “A Light in the darkness,” but in our case we hear the howls of our wolf pack cutting through the static and noise playing on the broken radio. I picture a segue where the previous track ends with the sound of rain falling, which just distorts into static and then this song explodes into your head. Song is done in under 3 minutes. Hunter can go nuts on stage.

CINDER
After the heaviest track on the album we have the mellowest… a simple acoustic ballad, something we don’t get often from these guys. On the Arrow, The Leaving Song. Cinders falling like snow probably reoccurs here, maybe cinders falling and melting snow. Snow becomes ash. Raw emotion from Dave, maybe even crescendoing in some snarls. Probably some string work like in the bridge of Morningstar. Minimal percussion. Maybe some minimal electronic work. Simple track, with some soundscapes. Might end with a tasteful solo.

More to come!

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Here’s the next 4 !

BROKEN LIGHTS
Definitely a more modern sounding AFI rock track. Imagine taking something like White Lies’ Hurt My Heart or Night Riots Contagious and instrument it like Hidden Knives or Girls Not Grey. Catchy, hooky, radio-ready. Probably some form of whoas going on. Davey goes oh! again. I would expect the energy drops out in the bridge for some moody buildup back into a final chorus. Lyrically, we can see the title once again refers to darkness, but maybe in a more modern context. Streetlights, headlights, broken pixels. What do we do when this is taken away and we are plunged into darkness? Do we reach for connection?

LEPORID
This would be an AFI song for the fans that have been around a while. Leporidae - rabbits. Rabbits are Roadkill, Decemberunderground album cover. Song length: 3:37. Sort of a callback to 336/Sing the Sorrow/DU mysteries era, so I’m thinking this one is like if modern day AFI were to write a song in that sort of ABABC structure they used on songs like Death of Seasons, Despair Factor and Synesthesia. Originally, one of the titles I was thinking for this album was simply 339, and just have clues sort of being dropped all around in various places in regard to the mysteries and mystiques AFI have had over the years, but instead I thought that was a bit too out of character for modern day AFI to do a whole album in that regard, so I kept it to just a song. Rabbits are that kind of rebirth metaphor, so maybe just for this one song, we feel a rebirth to middle-era AFI. A complex track, probably a solo. A good centerpiece to the album. Now the World meets Pink Eyes.

…AND THE ANIMALS BECOME BLIND
This would probably be one of the more atypical, experimental tracks on the album. Moody and atmospheric with dark tribal drums and syncopated bass. Ornamental guitars, acoustic and electric. Ethereal vocals. Think Siouxie and the Banshees, Swans’ When She Breathes. Like if you took their cover of Hanging Garden and mixed it with Aurelia. More primal metaphors in the lyrics, animals in the darkness. Stripped down to our core, exposed to the elements. What are we really?

16 FRAMES PER SECOND
Classic AFI-style title that starts with a number. 6 to 8, 17 Crimes, 37mm. The title refers to a standard frame rate for early silent films in the early 20s. One of my original ideas for an album was a loose concept album based on the 1920 silent film Haxan about witchcraft through the ages. I think this title emerged from that, so there’s a bit of an idea of maybe how burning “witches” at the stake merely turned into a different form of mistreatment of outcasts (those who are different) and all the modern ways we still use to keep them in silence. Film references, as Davey tends. Musically I get a big gothic new wave/post-punk vibe from the title, I’m definitely picturing a driving unique drum beat (a drum riff, if you will), like Tears for Fears’ Shout. Some open twinkly guitar riffs, like INVSN’s song Distorted Heartbeat. Unique catchy track that would maybe serve as a deep-cut 3rd single from the album.

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And the last 4!

WHEN THE GHOSTS COME TO PLAY
A poppy rock-punk track - dance rock with a dark skatepunk undercurrent - big bouncy syncopated drums with lots of fast and palm muted guitars. Equal parts Duran Duran and Sick of It All. Think Too Shy To Scream meets Days of the Phoenix. Obviously filled with hooks you can’t get out of your head. Probably a single. Lyrically about performing live. “Ghosts on the stage” playing music, the feeling of community it brings to us in our dark. The energy we release. But also, does the audience just want the ghosts that once were, the songs they’ve played a million times? Who is real? etc and so forth

VOID OF COURSE
The title of this song refers to the astrological phrase where the moon is basically alone and not interacting with any of the planets, thus essentially having no influence on the self. It’s another way of saying that someone or something has no influence, either good or bad. A feeling of isolation. “I am nothing.” But also, at the same time, no bad luck, no negatives. Once again, moon references. Nighttime, darkness. And thusly, musically we have some dark industrial synthrock. Sections of soft delicate guitars punctuated by pulsing synth-laden beats. See: The Chant’s To Surrender, or Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse’s The Light. She Speaks the Language crossed with This Time Imperfect. Ends with a grandiose emotional guitar solo.

THE BLACK LEAVES
Here we have a two-fold song title. The black leaves fallen from trees, covering the ground, wet. We’re out in the natural world, are we out of the cave? The black, dark, depths of the cave have left. We have emerged into the light. A fitting end to an album. Here we have the gothic-punk theatrics of the band colliding with a metallic-tinged complexity of Jade’s riffwork. Strings and choirs build throughout the song. A great sing-along culmination where every band member shines. A catharsis. But Home is Nowhere meets Too Late for Gods meets Anathema.

WITHOUT WINGS
After The Black Leaves echoes away into the distance becoming distorted and faint, barely audible, a looped droning sample slowly builds over a minute or two and softly merges with gentle tangled acoustic guitars. Sampled vocal effects twist through the track in the background. A darker sibling to The Missing Man. We are not angels. We are without wings. We are just people. But that’s better. We’re real, not imaginary. We can look to each other for meaning, for comfort. Not faith in figments and fables.

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GHOSTS E.P.

So I had a couple song titles left over, so I decided to present them as Cave Paintings b-sides in the form of an EP. It’s the Ghosts EP, with When The Ghosts Come to Play as a lead track. I always sort of figured that title as a single, so I thought I’d base the EP around it. B-sides are kind of like ghosts, tracks that didn’t make the album, so they’re not quite “real” album tracks. And, like many of AFI’s EPs, there is a cover track included: Duran Duran’s song Of Crime and Passion. The artwork is once again based on a cave painting, this time it’s from the aboriginal paintings in the Bradshaw caves of Australia. As for the three new tracks on the EP, you’ve got the following:

SNOW ANGELS
This title is just almost TOO AFI. I think I came up with it before The Blood Album came out, and I was like “Yeah, this is just the perfect AFI title.” Snow AND angels? How have they not used this? Then suddenly we get Dark Snow, Snow Cats, Break Angels. And now it’s too much so it didn’t make the cut. As for sound, I had always kind of thought of this as “Gothenburg synth-pop,” like if you took Love Like Winter and added dual-lead guitar lines.

BLANK VERSE
This was always a title I just really liked, even though it’s pretty plain. It even kind of describes something plain. It’s poetry, but poetry without rhymes. Maybe the lyrics would reflect that. Maybe it’s also referring to the verses of the song themselves, being blank, or “shallow.” Maybe it’s a commentary on modern songwriting. There’s a lot of directions you could go with such a title. It’s almost like a blank canvas. I had always thought of the music here as kind of a heavier driving track, mid-tempo like Anxious, but with that sort of 80s gothic punk sound. Think of it as if The Cult wrote The Leaving Song Pt. II.

AUTUMN FROM GRACE
This was a very early title I came up with. It has that kind of poetic quality to it from the AOD era, with words like Autumn and Grace, but then it also doesn’t take itself very seriously being a really dumb pun on “Fall From Grace”. A kind of silly title like Dancing Through Sunday or Silver and Cold. So you know it’d just be a fun song. I figured it’d sort of be a modern style single. The pop sensibilities showcased in 17 Crimes mixed with the moody 80s dreampunk of Rainflowers, er, I mean Feed From the Floor. Think of Acceptance’s last album.