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AFI - Decemberunderground Review

by Matthew Hastie

For some bands, the move to a major label is like being put on death row. You might make it out if you can prove you are still credible, but then again you might get fried. Either way, hopefully they got their lobster dinner. Some bands though don't fear this leap, case in point AFI. In 2003 AFI left their beloved label, Nitro, behind because the company simply didn't have the resources to promote AFI who over the years of their career have constantly gotten bigger. Signing to DreamWorks Records was a good pick by AFI because since they've signed they have had total control over their music, and it shows. 2003's Sing the Sorrow showed everyone what AFI had been dreaming of doing, but just lacked the resources to do. While some people think a basement recording sounds awesome, others think the Wall of Sound is the way to go.

AFI's newest release, Decemberunderground takes off into new directions that were merely hinted upon with Sing the Sorrow. Most people will now recognize AFI when they are mentioned due to the heavy exposure they are receiving from radio and MTV, not to mention the fact that they played during the 2006 MTV Movie Awards to all of America. Don't hate though, just cause AFI is on the radio and TV doesn't mean they suck. Out of all of their releases, Decemberunderground not only challenged the members, but as well will challenge the listener. The lead off track "Prelude 12/21" starts off somberly, but it's more like a creepy kid in a horror movie, you just don't know what's coming next. Vocalist Davey Havoc has once again proved how great of a vocal range he has and within the first two tracks goes from a whisper of singing to full-blown screaming on "Kill Caustic".

Most people are hearing "Miss Murder" on the radio and it indeed is one of the catchiest songs on the CD. From Hunter's thumping bass at the beginning to Jade Puget's churning guitars and haunting melodies and Adam Carson's swinging drums, AFI has never lost what they do best. Like any good band, they all compliment each other, and completely own at a live show but that's another story. Some of the tracks that stand out the most are the poppier "Love Like Winter' and "The Killing Lights", while they have beats that taste slightly of sugar, it might as well be antifreeze. AFI has always mastered the art of giant hooks and chanting in their songs. One of the best songs on the CD though is the haunting "37 mm" which mixes all the elements of the band with a heavy trance beat. If you think AFI has gone soft then take a listen to the aforementioned "Kill Caustic", "Summer Shudder", and "Kiss and Control", the latter of which has a great piece by Davey screaming his balls off. Do yourself a favor, pick up this CD and keep your eyes out for AFI. With each album, their popularity grows and thankfully, they never compromise their musical visions.

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AFI - Decemberunderground


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