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DECEMBERUNDERGROUND

AFI

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Album Review

AFI is a band lucky to own fiercely loyal fans who embrace — and ultimately expect — the gradual transformation the band has undergone with each album since 1999's Black Sails in the Sunset. Where many bands get called out for signing to a major label or even just maturing their sound over time, AFI fans have chiefly stayed devoted to their ever-evolving goth-punk heroes. With that in mind, Decemberunderground comes as AFI's follow-up to their ambitious major-label smash Sing the Sorrow. Due to the clever production tricks employed on that album, fans might expect even more intricate arrangements, sound effects, and sonic landscapes to emerge from the wintry packaging of Decemberunderground. To an extent this is true, but it's more that the cloudy gloom permeating their career thus far has lifted, allowing a relatively tighter and lighter overall album to emerge. Take the band's traditional prelude for instance: this time it's infused with stirring strings and an uplifting dance-pop beat that is a far cry from the dark and eerie call-to-arms chants of previous albums. And though "Kill Caustic" (and later "Affliction") brings AFI's earlier hardcore punch, if you thought "Girl's Not Grey" was poppy, check out this record's lead single, "Miss Murder." Despite a slightly ominous undertone, the glam-tinged song is damn near playful and sunny amid bouncy rhythms, vaguely industrial beats, background "hey!"s (courtesy of AFI's fan brotherhood, the Despair Faction), and a bassline that could have been swiped from Green Day. The band further dips its hand into new wave exploits ("37mm"), truly stirring choruses ("Summer Shudder"), stark electro vibrations ("Love Like Winter"), and the customary ballad ("Endlessly, She Said"). AFI even comes as close as they probably ever will to sounding like U2 in "The Missing Frame." Somehow, the guys have managed to combine hardcore instincts with dark emo-coated lyrics, synth shimmies, gothic aesthetics, and electronic beats into a sound that still remains wholly AFI. So maybe that's why fans have stuck by the band over all these years. Even as the guys stretch and flex their songwriting muscles, they never fail to remember where they came from, instead using their past work as the foundation to their essential growth. Decemberunderground may have more fully realized doses of pop and electronic music present, but the core of AFI's sound never strays too far from what listeners have grown to love about them in the first place.

Customer Reviews

a beautiful evolution

I do not think many other reviewers really understand AFI. Any true fan should know that they are constantly evolving their sound. If you buy this album expecting it to sound like their older, "classic" material (e.g. Black Sails and earlier), then you'll be disappointed. But Decemberunderground is simply a maturing of AFI's sound, and gives a much broader showcase of their songwriting ability, and also of the band's own musical influences. AFI distinguish themselves from most other bands by not limiting themselves to one particular genre of music, or conforming to people's expectations of what they should sound like. Decemberunderground is an amazing album; certainly a step forward in AFI's musical career.

Very Tasteful Album!

AFI is notorious for changing thier sound, but one thing I have noticed is that with each passing album, the band evolves and become even more artistically tasteful than the prevous album. DECEMBERUNDERGROUND is a very tasteful album that has no cliches from previous albums with a new sounds, experimentation, and musically tasteful! I have been waiting for this album, not knowing what to expect, and it was a very awsome suprise! Congrats AFI for always letting the fans wonder, what is next?

Like an Overdone Sing The Sorrow...

AFI is a great band. Their goth take on punk and hardcore music has been more than attractive to my ecclectic music tastes. Their 2003 release "Sing The Sorrow" is one of the greatest albums I have and I recommend it to anybody. Their latest, Decemberunderground, however, is not as fantastic an effort. There are some great songs on the record, by all means, yet is seems to lack something new and interesting to keep my attention held ferm. Sing The Sorrow is brilliant and stands out resiliantly, but this one just seems like they are trying to copy that style and overdo it. Of the two, this is clearly the inferiour. Prelude 12/21: Alright for an intro. 4* Kill Caustic: Not bad, but not that great. 3* Miss Murder: Grew old very, very fast. 3* Summer Shudder: Great song. Should have made more like this. 5* The Interview: Pretty good. Impressive. 4* Love Like Winter: Barable, but not highly above good. 3* Affliction: Alright. Better than alot of the tracks. 4* The Missing Frame: Great song. Sounds like it could have been on Sing The Sorrow. 5* Kiss and Control: Very Leaving Song. Great track. 5* The Killing Lights: Kinda boring and monotone...2* 37mm: Alright, but still boring. 3* Endlessly, She Said: Would have been a fantastic conclusion, but is still a great song. 5* On the Arrow: Ok, but not fantastic. 3* I don't know what to say. It's not that this is a terrible album because there are good songs. There's just something missing from this one. Some of the songs are very similar, some get boring and some are just bad. AFI is still a fantastic band, this just isn't the best display of their obvious talent.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Ukiah, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they didn't reach platinum status until 2003, hardcore punk revivalists AFI originally formed in 1991, when the band's four founding members — vocalist Davey Havok, guitarist Markus Stopholese, bassist Vic Chalker, and drummer Adam Carson — were attending high school in Ukiah, California. Chalker was replaced by Geoff Kresge after eight months, and the band played several local gigs and released a split 7", Dork, with fellow Ukiah natives Loose Change (a band that incidentally...
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