AFI
Decemberunderground


4.5
superb

Review

by Motleyguy USER (4 Reviews)
June 6th, 2006 | 372 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


Note: I wrote this three years ago. I stand by my comments, however you might notice my rating has changed from 4.5 to 3. This is because I don't feel the record is as timeless as I once did.

AFI is an interesting band. One of the few bands that I know of that has been able to completely reinvent itself with every new album, and not release one bad album. This is what sets AFI apart from other bands; it's also probably why they've been around for more than a decade. They began playing simple hardcore punk in a garage in Ukiah, California, and now have just released their second record on a major label, Decemberunderground.

Decemberunderground is, in my honest opinion, a great record. It is completely different from all of their past releases, and is a quite obvious evolution of the band that released Sing The Sorrow back in 2003. The album incorporates much more in the way of melodic tracks, a lot of electronic elements and some different vocal styles from the lead singer, Davey Havok.

The vocals on this album are fantastic, lots of variation from Davey, as he once again shows his versatility as the front man of AFI. He has changed some aspects, such as his screams; they are now more raw, definitely different sounding than before. The vocal lines, melodies and hooks on this record are fantastic, and extraordinarily catchy. Some of his vocal lines on this album feel as though they belong on a pop punk album, and some of them sound like they were taken straight from a screamo record. Some of the best vocal work on this album can be found on Prelude 12/21, for the cool melodies, Miss Murder, because it sounds nothing like anything we've heard from Davey before, completely different vocal style, and Love Like Winter has some great hooks.

The guitar on this record seems to take a backseat to a lot of the electronic elements, as well as the drums and bass. This fact is somewhat disappointing as Jade is a phenomenal guitarist. The bass on the record is ever present, and brings the edge to AFI's music, as Hunter's basslines always have, this record is no exception. Adam's drumming is once again, stellar. He uses some cool beats, and is the driving force behind the majority of the songs, I am interested to see what his live set up is going to look like when they tour behind this album though...a half electronic kit perhaps?

Now, even though I hate track by tracks, the songs on this album are no less than phenomenal, so I feel the need to talk about each one individually.

Prelude 12/21 - A very cool intro track, the drums and the vocals are the central focus of this track. Adam's beat is somewhat reminiscent of hip-hop music. Davey's lyrics are fantastic, with a cool, catchy melody. But...an intro to an AFI wouldn't be an intro to an AFI album without the chanting backup vocals - have no fear, they are ever present on this track. The track is very rhythmic, with a soft synth part going over top. All in all a great intro, one of my favourites by AFI. - 4.5 / 5

Kill Caustic - This song is completely jarring, and unexpected following Prelude 12/21. It starts of quickly, with a bit of guitar feedback, and it gets right into a frantic, fairly intense verse, featuring some interesting vocals from Davey, a style of screaming which we have not heard before. The chorus of this song sounds like it could have been pulled from a pop punk album, save the screams that punctuate it. All in all, a decent track, typical punk fare, with some electronics thrown in during the bridge. I find it to be somewhat of a throwback to Black Sails In The Sunset era AFI, nothing spectacular, but have no fear; the best is yet to come. - 4 / 5

Miss Murder - A fantastic song, the first single from Decemberunderground. This song shocked a lot of AFI fans, as it sounds like a completely different band. The song is in a compound time signature, and is very "dancy", if you get what I'm saying. Davey's vocal style is like nothing we have heard from him before, and the chorus is great, catchy and very easy to chant along to, the lyrics are great too. The drums and bass drive this song, and are fantastic. All in all, a different style, something we've never seen from AFI before, a great song. - 5 / 5

Summer Shudder - In this song, we start to see the electronic elements a lot more. From this track on, the album goes in a completely different direction. This track has some cool synth bits, and a catchy chorus. Once again, this track takes a lot from the drums and bass, which follow a fairly cool groove in the verses. Not a lot of guitar work, though there are some spots, namely the pre verse section, where Jade has some cool parts. A decent song, featuring no screaming, shows a more melodic side of AFI's new sound. - 4 / 5

The Interview - This may be the one track on the album that I'm not really into. I actually find it to be quite boring, slow and repetitive. The verses are mellow, involving some simple parts, and some synth in the background. The choruses aren't much more interesting. The lyrics aren't too bad though, and this is where we hear the words "Decemberunderground" sung softly by Davey near the end of the song. - 3 / 5

Love Like Winter - Definitely my favourite track from this album. Starts off with footsteps, and some synth sounds as the vocals come in. The track builds up and explodes into an extremely catchy chorus that could have very easily been taken from a pop punk album. The song contains a lot of synth throughout, and a quick, but cool synth interlude just after the first chorus. Again, another track based around the drums, bass, and synth elements, but definitely a phenomenal song, best on the album in my opinion - 5 / 5

Affliction - Another punky song, starts off quick, with a guitar riff and more of Davey's screams. The track reminds me of Dancing Through Sunday from Sing The Sorrow for some reason, I think it's the whole feel. The only thing is, I love Dancing Through Sunday, and I'm not really feeling this song so much. Davey's screaming gets annoying, and nothing really stands out about it. It breaks down in the bridge, first as a whole band, then it is just Davey singing over top of Jade's soft chords, but this doesn't last long, and we're soon back to the chorus. This is probably the most guitar-oriented song on the album, and while there is some cool guitar work, the song feels like filler to me. - 3 / 5

The Missing Frame - Starts of with a nice punchy beat from Adam, and then a guitar with what I believe is a wah effect comes in over top. The beat continues into a cool verse, with the same beat, and a matching bassline from Hunter underneath some cool single note picking from Jade. Davey's vocals are once again different from usual. The verse builds up into a chorus that is reminiscent of The Arcade Fire or The Killers, which is cool, and definitely a new feel for AFI. A great upbeat song, that sounds nothing like anything we've heard from AFI. - 5 / 5

Kiss and Control - A slower, darker track, starts with electronic drums and synths, which break into a picked guitar part and a simple drum beat layered underneath Davey's vocals. The song's chorus has some great back up vocals, accented by Davey's excellent screams. The vocals in the verse remind me of The Great Disappointment from Sing The Sorrow. Jade does some excellent guitar work in the bridge before the song breaks down completely to a short, spoken word passage by Davey. This song has some great lyrics, and definitely shows the best side of each separate member. - 4.5 / 5

The Killing Light - Another upbeat track, driven by Hunter's bassline, the drums, and a simple, yet effective guitar riff. The lyrics in this song are cool, and Davey's melodies are great. The song also has the only guitar solo to be found on the album, which is short, but sweet. The solo fits the mood and energy of the song, and isn't too long or drawn out, Jade definitely shines on this track. Which is another of my favourites from this album. - 4.5 / 5

37mm - A mellow track, starts of with some synth noises and a bassline. The drums, which sound very electronic, enter at the same time as Davey. This track is very electronically oriented, it uses a lot of synth, and the electronic drums, as well as some sampled sounds in the verses. However, I still think the song is great, and I find Davey's vocals to be quite soothing. - 4.5 / 5

Endlessy, She Said - The closing track of this album. The verses are reminiscent of This Time Imperfect, the secret track from Sing The Sorrow, and build up into a dramatic chorus. There aren't a lot of electronic elements on this track, save some sampled sounds in the verses, and the intro. The song is quite epic, and a great closer to this album. The mood is very dark and depressing, while the song still has quite a "big" sound to it. The bridge breaks down, then builds up into yet another breakdown, before it leads into another epic chorus before the song fades out, each instrument dropping out until Davey's voice is left alone and brings a close to this fantastic album. - 5 / 5

Outro - I guess this is the true end of the album. It consists of some electronic drums, and synth parts, and is punctuated by a spoken word bit; by a girl who is either crying, or laughing - I can't tell which. A short but sweet track, not the typical AFI "hidden track", but I actually quite like it, the song feels like it puts a note of finality on the end of the album. - 4 / 5

Overall the album is great, with only a couple of tracks that I wasn't particularly fond of. AFI has once again successfully reinvented their sound, and put out another great album.

Standout tracks:

- Miss Murder

- Love Like Winter

- The Missing Frame

- The Killing Light

- Endlessly, She Said

Overall, I give this album a 4.5 / 5. The song writing is great, and really shows how AFI has matured; I also love the incorporation of the electronic elements. The only real downside to this album is the few tracks that feel like they are filler. If you have managed to read this far, I both congratulate you, and thank you for reading my review, and please believe, I did not intend for it to be this long, it's just the way it ended up.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
steveconygre
June 6th 2006


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review, but it's not a 4.5 Davey's screaming is for the most part, horrible and his singing is quite bland. Neither the drums nor the bass are as good as you give them credit for, Derek Bloom from From First to Last is a much better drummer in this genre.

I'm gonna say 3 is closer to the truth, as this won't be regarded as a truly necessary album even a couple of years down the line.

Mr_Bounce
June 6th 2006


4 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album is good, but it is not as good as their previous... It's that simple in my opinion, sorry.

Their previous music was energetic and driving, while still having awesome bass and guitar and kickass melodic vocals. This... Slower, the music seems a bit duller and more 'poppy'..

clash1
June 6th 2006


1 Comments


Sounds like any other emo band nothing special and mediocre compared with last one 2/5


f_u_c_t
June 6th 2006


1406 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i will probably end up buying this. But im sure old AFI is so much better.

Motleyguy
June 6th 2006


118 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sounds like any other emo band nothing special and mediocre compared with last one 2/5


I'm willing to bet you have no idea what emo is...anyways, the musicianship on this album is still fantastic, most people just don't seem to want to embrace the change in AFI's sound. Obviously they weren't going to recreate Black Sails or Art of Drowning, and anyone who says they are shocked by the changes in their sound has to have been living under a rock for the past 3 years. They started with the 2nd verse of Death of Seasons, and said in multiple interviews that their sound is going to be more electronic. I still think this a fantastic album, definitely one of my favourites from AFI.

Pyramidman
June 6th 2006


1340 Comments


-Quote-
Sounds like any other emo band nothing special and mediocre compared with last one 2/5

im much too tired to get in an emo discussion, so lets just agree that AFI isnt emo
okay?

Pyramidman
June 6th 2006


1340 Comments


and death of seasons is sickkk!

King_Diamond16
June 6th 2006


2 Comments


4

This album is great to listen to.
I know its nothing like Sing the Sorrow or Black Sails but its good to kno that a band can change in this way and still make good songs

King_Diamond16
June 6th 2006


2 Comments


great review btw :D

Motleyguy
June 6th 2006


118 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks man, I thought it was a little long, but there was just alot to say about this album.

iamrockzorz
June 6th 2006


1029 Comments


Wow, well i just bought this cd. I didn't even mean to buy it, i was putting in an application at my local record store and thought hey why not, i have the money, it was on sale, i loved the band before.

So so far, i'm very suprised by this cd. A lot better than what i was expecting.. Pretty good

k4t4lyst
June 6th 2006


201 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good Review.

I definitely agree that AFI's old stuff was better, but contrary to others, I like the screaming. That may just be because I love metal though.

Also, as I believe I said somewhere else...Do we really want a repeat of one of their older albums? They've changed from album to album, this is just the same thing.This Message Edited On 06.06.06

scallahan06
June 6th 2006


124 Comments


the best review for this album here yet

to the end 0013
June 6th 2006


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

THIS C.D. JUST FREAKING CAME OUT!!!! and i agree w/ this dood. /

Storm In A Teacup
June 6th 2006


13191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My Mom says the guitar in "Kill Caustic" rips off Deep Purple.
I got this today and I like it.

Motleyguy
June 6th 2006


118 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the best review for this album here yet


THIS C.D. JUST FREAKING CAME OUT!!!! and i agree w/ this dood. /


thanks guys, means alot...spent two hours on it last night. I actually just picked up a "hard copy" of it just now, but I've had the leaked version for a couple weeks, and didn't like either of the reviews I read on here last and figured what the hell, I'll do my own. Most seem to dislike the album, simply because it is different, but alot of people who like old AFI albums such as Very Proud of Ya aren't very fond of their newer albums, because they shy away from the punk rock sound quite alot, somewhat with STS and more so with DU.

Storm In A Teacup
June 6th 2006


13191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=review]Adamís beat is somewhat reminiscent of hip-hop music.[/quote]:lol:

Edit: Wait, what the fuck, my limited edition copy ends with "Endlessly". :mad:This Message Edited On 06.06.06

Motleyguy
June 6th 2006


118 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I just picked up the "hard copy" as I said, and it also ends with Endlessly...somewhat strange.

Bfhurricane
June 6th 2006


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Im sorry, but I simply cannot get into this album. For 3 years of work, this album sounds nothing like it should. Endlessly She Said and a few others are very well written songs, but other than that this sounds no different than any other punk band nowadays.
AFI have always been changing, including this album, and its always a good thing that they change. With each of their releases, the change they incorporate seems to be revolutionary to punk, and they come out with concepts and exceptional songwriting that has never been felt before in music, and I say this as a devout AFI fan. Decemberunderground doesnt stand out in the world of music today like their old work did. They seem to be "selling out," as much as I hate to say it.

steveconygre
June 6th 2006


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Most seem to dislike the album, simply because it is different


This is a very simplified accusation. No review on here simply says that the band has changed so it must be bad.

I for one like Hopesfall, Deftones, Coheed & Cambria, From First To Last, Thursday, Brand New and Poison The Well all of whom have changed their sound in at least one large way. The point is not that AFI have changed but that their new sound isn't pulled off as well comparable to other bands in this genre. Look at Midtown, they went from a punk band to a more pop rock band and they got lots of positive feedback.

Old AFI was great (pop)punk and this is good (pop)rock with new electronic influences, but that's all it is, good.



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