Album review

AFI : Sing The Sorrow

AFI : Sing The SorrowHow about a few dead leaves to go with those April showers? Indeed, one of the Bay Area's finest punk bands arrives about six months out of season for their 'sorrowful' new release, which in spite of its dark wanderings, is just as much a breeding ground for rejoice and renewal. Their brood-ability remains sound, it's just the 'sound' has gone from wallowing just below the marshy indie-rock-spent-your-last-buck surface to breaking into the big league with their boldest display of power and deft pop persuasion to date.
    AFI - who some might suggest are a bastard son of what once was The Offspring - are no strangers to the underground struggle. Now on their sixth full length, their resourcefulness results in peak performances by all four parties involved, plus the carryover effect that an actual big budget affords; enlisting names like Butch Vig and Jerry Finn (Nirvana, Green Day) for an 'unfashionably' slick production. Sing The Sorrow is unquestionably AFI's most ambitious effort of all.
    Conscious of their goth/punk roots while challenging enough to play chicken with the glut of camera-friendly metal-edged mainstreamers, AFI - who've signalled on more than one occasion, though never more so confidently than on 2000's The Art Of Drowning that they are a force to be reckoned with - were destined to outgrow the waist level pool of kiddie punk drivel since day one.

Marked with eerie intros and forbidding chants, Sing The Sorrow combines the effects of pain and perseverance in one forward motion, where pride and progression maintain a measure of respect for each other, and everybody wins. Songs like Miseria Cantare (The Beginning) call out to the midnight brood with tolling bells and chilling screams, while The Leaving Song Pt. II is a memorable scene shift from then to now. Noticeably proficient is the quick fingered yet tender guitar work of Jade Puget, a late-coming yet major contributor to the enthused AFI uprising, on this tranquil yet catchy one that sees an unlikely reprise of sorts ten tracks later.
    Bleed Black and Dancing Through Sunday are vintage AFI-style speed-core moments with "Oh whoa ohs" drawn out to full effect. Girl's Not Grey impresses as the first single, with its quick tempos and choral shout outs; but at second glance, the question's no longer whether or not this is AFI, but rather, when did Davey Havoc become Davy Vain?
    Better still; Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings) or the equally deserving This Celluloid Dream. Their intensity remains intact by displacing sheer punk aggression for song depth and playing dynamic, all of which should surprise no one who's heard and followed the band through their ten-plus year existence.

Lower your red flags of fear disbelievers, for the extra boost of pomp, circumstance, and pyrotechnic effects is negligible at best. In fact Sing The Sorrow is an emotional bloodletter from beyond the grave that finds AFI sporting epic songs amidst a girth of emotional turbulence, and spearheading a born again punk-like uprising for their increasing throngs of displaced followers.

:: Vinnie Apicella

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