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June 23, 2024

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Sing The Sorrow (Dreamworks Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

How 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 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 the big leagues with their boldest display of power and deft Pop persuasion to date. AFI, who some might suggest 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 performance by all four parties involved plus the carryover effect that an actual big budget affords, enlisting names like Vig and Finn (Nirvana, Greenday) for an "unfashionably" slick production. "Sing The Sorrow" is unquestionably AFI's most ambitious effort of all. Consicientious of their Goth/Punk roots while challenging enough to play chicken with the glut of Metal-edged and mainstreamers of an overzealous camera-friendly mentality, the band, who've signaled on more than one occasion, though never more so confiedently than on 2000's "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" possesses the combined effect of pain and perseverance all in one forward motion, where pride and progression maintain an equidistant measure of respect for the other and in the end, everybody wins. Songs like "Miseria Cantare" call out to the midnight brood with tolling bells and chilling screams; "The Leaving Song Pt. II" is a memorable scene shift from then to now. Noticeably profieicne 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 Oh's" drawn to full fall-like effect. "Girl's Not Grey" iimpresses as the first single with its quick tempos and choral shout outs, where 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" or the equally deserving "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 pyro-technic effects are negligible at best. Individually, AFI lends merit to the idea of allegiance in musicality and in kind, opts to fill little space with artfully prescient subtleties that associate rather than dominate, in unifying a Gothic/Punk/Metal sound that few have capably delivered until now. "Sing The Sorrow" is an emotional bloodletter from beyond the grave that finds the songs sporting an epic quality amidst a girth of emotional turbulence that, while singing the praises of The Cure and/or The Smith's before them, sees the band at the forefront of a born again Punk-like underground uprising for they and their increasing throngs of displaced followers.
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