Over the course of the past decade, AFI has released 5 full length albums on indie label Nitro, signed to a major, reached platinum status with major label debut, headlined numerous Warped Tours, toured around the world, and is held dear by thousands and thousands of rabid fans. With a resume like that, one would think that any band would be content with that, but not AFI. Since the release of Sing The Sorrow in 2003 and many days on the road, AFI (vocalist Davey Havok, guitarist Jade Puget, drummer Adam Carson, and bassist Hunter Burgan), over the course of 9 months, recorded over 100 songs in the studio with long time producer Jerry Finn and out of those sessions, they came out with their seventh full length album, Decemberunderground. December is a twelve song collection that blends rock, punk, hardcore, pop, and electronica into a beautifully dark work of art.
The album begins with the catchy and poignant opener, “Prelude 12/21,” which leads into the hardcore-punk number, “Kill Caustic.” Full of fury and pile-driving guitars, Havok’s brutal screams go back and forth with his exhilarating tenor. Following that is the first single, “Miss Murder,” a foot-stomping upbeat track featuring chants from the Despair Faction (AFI’s fan club) and drumming reminiscent to Green Day. While the first two minutes of the track are nothing special, it’s the breakdown that makes this track so good. Davey’s voice and Jade’s guitar work lead you in gently, only to turn around and beat you bloody with a full musical assault. “Summer Shudder” takes the album on a U-turn, as this is a beaming track that really focuses on the electronic aspect. This song is so catchy, I hope this is the next single, as it could just make this album very huge. “The Interview” has a chilling sound to it, as the tempo is steady and the guitars soar in the chorus. “Love Like Winter” tells you to “warn your warmth to turn away./Here it’s December everyday,” as Jade’s guitar and Hunter’s bass sets the mood for this dark electronic rocker. “Affliction” picks the pace back up, as Adam’s drums are at break-neck speed with Davey’s snarl. The song ends with a dark techno outro. “The Missing Frame” sounds like something U2 would have wrote if they were a goth-punk band. The chorus is musically uplifting as it is lyrically hopeless. “Kiss And Control” again uses the electronic vibe to good use with the heavy guitars and lively bass. The song closes out with Davey talking over the rising music, which finishes with an emphatic scream. “The Killing Lights” has chilled vibe to the verses and a very poppy, yet infectious chorus. The dark techno vibe returns on “37mm,” which channels the industrial musings of Nine Inch Nails and is the most electronic track on this album. The album closes with the hauntingly beautiful “Endlessly, She Said,” which begins melancholic guitar chords and builds into a towering chorus featuring commanding vocals that close the album on an exhilarated note.
Decemberunderground is AFI’s statement album. They achieved the grandiose sound they were striving for on this record, and AFI has never sounded better. For those old school AFI fans who will automatically hate this album because it isn’t like the albums from the earlier days, get over it. It would be an insult to AFI’s growth as musicians to write another Art Of Drowning or Black Sails In The Sunset. AFI had a specific vision in writing this album, and that was to make an album that would push the envelope further.Decemberunderground does that and more, as it shows that AFI isn’t afraid to experiment and develop their sound into something more epic and substantial. Don’t be discouraged after one listen to this gem, as it will baffle you on first listen. But it gets significantly better with each listen, and then you’ll realize how great this album is and how far AFI has come in their career. AFI are legends of our generation, and this record only furthers that claim. Go pick up Decemberunderground today and embrace the world that AFI is leading us all into.