I'm not your typical AFI fan. Most "hardcore" AFI enthusiasts love their older work like
Answer That And Stay Fashionable and Very Proud Of Ya. Me, on the
other hand, I love all of their CDs from Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes
up until this current album, Sing The Sorrow. I feel the addition of Jade Puget as
guitarist in 1997 really helped this band break away from their not-so-interesting hardcore
punk rock roots, adding an element to their music that made them unique and fun to listen
to. Their music became darker and moodier, but it retained that edge that made AFI so
popular back in the day.
If you weren't on your knees, crying, holding your head in your hands when you first
heard that AFI had signed to a major label, you're a liar. None of us wanted to believe it,
but we figured that they deserved it, for being such a hardworking band, releasing great
CD after great CD continuously. When the songs "Now The World" and "Reiver's
Music" were released on the Internet and on vinyl only available at Hot Topic
(::shudder::), it was a shock, at least to me, how bad this band sounded. Their music was
boring, and vocalist Davey Havok, an amazing vocalist in the past, never sounded worse.
The songs were just...bad.
So now it's a little over a month until this CD which I am currently reviewing comes out,
and my expectations for it have severely dropped. When I finally got my hands on it, my
subpar expectations proved to be correct. This isn't the AFI that I knew. This isn't the
AFI that I wanted to hear. This AFI sucks. But, since I'm here, I might as well lecture
you guys on what the CD has and doesn't have.
There's good news here...Davey Havok hasn't completely gone to shit. On some
to most of the tracks here, he still sounds solid, except when he tries to sing real softly,
which sounds really bad. The chanting by the backing members of the band are still intact,
thankfully, and it still rocks. The "spooky" sound effects also rule this CD, and it comes
off sounding pretty good, as well as the production on this CD, which is top-notch as well,
with credit to the major label (and major funding). As far as the "pro's" for this CD go,
that's all I can really think of.
Now for the bad news...the music found on Sing The Sorrow is nothing short of
boring. Their edge that I was talking about before has been lost. All of their once-intense
music has been replaced with mid-tempo goth-rock songs. There's not one truly
interesting song on this CD. Even Davey's once-brilliant lyrics are lacking, and some are
even corny-sounding, down to the titles of the songs, like "Bleed Black", "Silver And
Cold", and "Girl's Not Grey". It's almost embarrassing to listen to, and over half of the
songs on this CD are just plain bad.
The first song on Sing The Sorrow, "Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)", is hot as
hell. The awesome spooky sound effect and excellent vocal effects on the group chanting
make this song really awesome to listen to. The next track, "The Leaving Song Pt. 2", is
also promising, much in the vein of The Art Of Drowning-style AFI. The next two
songs, "Bleed Black" and "Silver And Cold", are both pretty bad songs, with too much
low-key singing by Davey, mixed with unimaginative riffs. "Dancing Through Sunday" is
a good song with good bass breaks and a nice guitar part in the bridge, and a rockin' solo,
but the moment is spoiled by "Girl's Not Grey", which is an atrocious song, as well as the
first single from this CD. "Death Of Seasons" is my favorite track on this CD. This song
absolutely fucking rips, with straight up screaming from Davey, and some absolutely
awesome musical and vocal effects thrown in. Killer. "The Great Disappointment" is a
little better than its title suggests, but it's definitely not their best work. It seems as if AFI
is trying to mix emo and goth on this track, and it just doesn't work. "Paper Airplanes
(Makeshift Wings)" is decent, and "This Celluloid Dream" just bring back the bore. "The
Leaving Song" is AFI's poor attempt at straight-up emo, and it comes off almost
laughable. The final track, "...But Home Is Nowhere" brings back the aggressive vocals,
and it's a pretty good song, even though all future closing tracks have been spoiled by the
brilliant "God Called In Sick Today" off of Black Sails In The Sunset.
So there you have it, the first major disappointment of 2003. While this CD isn't a
complete disaster, it had so much potential to be great, especially based on the real solid
tracks. I will still pick this up the day it comes out, and I'll continue to be a fan of this
band, but they've definitely lost a step.
"Death Of Seasons"
"Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)"
"...But Home Is Nowhere"
"The Leaving Song Pt. 2"