In a statement regarding the album, AFI frontman Davey Havok said, "This record is of silence, and the burials that result from that silence. It's of betrayal, cruelty, weakness, anxiety, panic – deep and slow – despair, injury and loss. And in this it is shamefully honest and resolutely unforgiving".
In contrast to previous releases from AFI, lead singer Davey Havok described Burials as being "very layered and very rich", adding that it was "far, far less straightforward than what we did on the last record, which – much like every record we create – was the result of a natural growth, a natural indication of where we are as songwriters now".
In anticipation of the release of Burials, AFI released the singles I Hope You Suffer on July 22, 2013 and "17 Crimes" on August 6, 2013. "17 Crimes" was made available for streaming on the day preceding its release on the iTunes Store. A new song from the album, "A Deep Slow Panic", was made available for streaming on the website for Spin, along with a new interview of the band on October 10, 2013. "A Deep Slow Panic" impacted radio on February 25, 2014.
Burials has received generally positive reviews from music critics. At review aggregator site Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received a score of 73 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews based on 7 critics." Jason Heller of The A.V. Club gave the album a B rating, drawing similarities to The Cure on various songs. Matt Collar from Allmusic gave the album 4 stars out 5, saying, "With Burials, Havok and AFI don't just bury the castle of wrecked relationships, they put to rest any notions that they aren't kings of their dystopian rock kingdom." He highlighted I Hope You Suffer, "17 Crimes", and "Greater Than 84" as the best tracks from the album. Similarly, Jason Pettigrew also awarded the album 4 stars out of 5, saying, "Overseen by producer Gil Norton [...] AFI's latest is top-loaded with atmosphere-enhancing, widescreen production that's so grandiose, it should have Michael Bay's name all over it", and wrote that "With Burials, AFI are going larger than life to get back into the small of their fans' hearts." However, Mike Powell conversely gave the album 2 stars out of 5 and gave a mixed review, saying, ""17 Crimes" and "Greater Than 84" survive with the band's flair for camp still intact. Others drown in pools of eyeliner. Flamboyant, serious, plagued by problems he never gets too specific about, Davey Havok invents a role part Morrissey, part Bret Michaels – hair-metal pinup for the Hot Topic era."
The album debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 25,000 copies in the United States. It is the band's third album to debut in the top 10 (Sing the Sorrow #5, Decemberunderground #1).