AFI / Decemberunderground / June 06, 2006
Miss Murder / 06. Love Like Winter / 11. 37mm
AFI is one of those bands that once you’ve grown to love, you simply cannot imagine there was once a time you lived without them. And though MTV will have you think they scored big with their 2003 release Sing The Sorrow, the boys of AFI have been around a lot longer than that; 12 years in fact, making 2006 their 15th year in existence, and there’s no better way to celebrate that than with the release of their new album Decemberunderground, one of the most anticipated releases of the year.
Sing The Sorrow was so amazing, I had trouble not hyping up this record to extreme proportions. In the end, I was left worrying that much like Tom Delonge, I had hyped up the record to a level it could never hope to reach. As soon as the opening song began, my thoughts quickly evaporated; AFI has managed to put together another absolutely fabulous record. The opening song “Prelude 12/21” is an intro to end all intros; it begins softly with gentle bells and slowly builds on itself using a hip hop reminiscent beat, before crashing into a mix of synth and typical AFI group vocals. And just when you think this could very well be the best song on the CD, the second track begins. And then you worry. It’s not that “Kill Caustic” is a bad song, it just sounds very Sing The Sorrow-ish. But as the album finishes off, you are content; this CD has just enough of old AFI balanced with a new AFI; an AFI that has employed more synth and artificial beats you thought them possible of, but have managed to make it sound so deliciously right.
This is one of those albums that shows the gradual change of AFI. No more are they solely moody and melancholic, using big words in their songs, though plenty of that abounds as the disc spins. Decemberunderground is more stripped in its lyrical content yet remains thought provoking in its simplicity, while the music has been amped into a lush kaleidoscope of instrumentation. The experimentation present on the album is apparent in a background way that instead of being distracting as it could have, only adds to the AFI we know and love as it works with Havok’s vocals instead of against them. The only song that stands out as odd to me on the CD is “Miss Murder,” the single. The first time I heard the song, I thought, ‘Whoa, new Green Day single?’. That’s not to say it’s a bad song, it’s actually very catchy, just that compared to the rest of the CD it’s a little too upbeat, sounding like it may have been written around the same time “Rabbits Are Roadkill on Route 37” was; whether it was or not, I have no idea.
Favorites on the CD include “Love Like Winter,” “Summer Shudder,” “37mm,” and “The Killing Light,” where oddly enough Havok sounds suspiciously like a certain Mr. Darren Hayes in “Unlovable” as he bitterly asks the listener, ‘Am I usable?” The only tiny glitch I can find with this CD is “Prelude 12/27” not having been developed into a full length song (this song has such ass kicking potential it’s ridiculous, considering it already is at a disappointing 1:35). Oh how I wish that here it was December…everydayyyy.
Even though the atmosphere of the record is riddled in a cold December I doubt it will keep you cool this summer; this album is hot. Yeah. I went there.