Top critical review
10 of 12 people found this helpful
A largely depressing effort by a great band
on 5 June 2006
I rushed out to buy this when I heard that a new album was finally out and I am still trying to come to terms with it! I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but I thought this album was pretty awful. It took me two days to manage to listen to all of it all the way through without breaking down!
I thought that `Sing the Sorrow' was a bit of a departure from the AFI that I loved, the ones who had written `Black Sails...', `Art of Drowning' and `Very Proud...', but I grew to love it, because (apart from the fact that some music executive had told Davey to start experimenting with a generic, guttural growl instead of his trademark high-pitched, passionate screams) it seemed like a natural progression for the band. Sure it was a bit more produced, but it was still an AFI album. And a great one at that.
I sometimes wish that bands would break up and start up afresh if they are going to trample their hard-earned reputation through the pop-infested mud. `Decemberunderground' is a dreadful album and has really crushed my love of this band. The songs are more complex in terms of structure and the band seem to be able to play their instruments technically better than in the past, and yet the music is not progressive, but a convoluted pop pastiche of the dark fervour that defined the music of past albums. `Miss Murder', the big single sounds like a Green Day track. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Green Day - but they play sing-along pop-punk as they have always done and they do it very well. But that was never what AFI were. They have something darker in them and their songs never had that commercial sheen. I don't have a problem with bands going mainstream, and becoming popular, but when they do so at the expense of their sound and, seemingly, everything they ever stood for then it's not a good thing. Some parts of this album sound more like Bon Jovi!
I saw these guys play in 2000 and it was the best gig that I have ever seen. The intensity and the connection between the band on stage and the impassioned crowd has not been matched by any band I have seen since. It was fantastic. But I cannot imagine the same being the case if they play these new songs. There is none of the rage, the primal darkness that made those old songs so fantastic, that gave AFI a cult following.
I've probably gone on enough, but it's just when a band that you really respect so much pushes out an album like this it's pretty painful and it's hard to stop whining about it.
If you like AFI, then listen to the album and make up your own mind. I hope that you like it, because to me it sounds like a different band. It's like they ran out of steam and decided to recycle themselves as radio-friendly rock stars. I know I'll buy the next album, if only in the hope that they will redeem themselves, but if this signals a definitive change in the band's direction, then I think it is a such a shame that everything beautiful has to fade so cruelly.