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AFI - Decemberunderground

AFI, Decemberunderground

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

CALIFORNIAN goth-punk quartet AFI seek to follow up 2003’s Sing The Sorrow with seventh album, Decemberunderground.

The album marks something of an expansion of the AFI sound, drawing on more synths and programming that has been provided by Ronan Harris of UK electro-pop duo VNV Nation.

But the signature sound is retained for the benefit of fans, while several of the tracks scream out (literally) Goth metal, such as Kill Caustic.

Opening with Prelude 12/21, a semi-ritualistic opener built around some sinister stomps and claps provided by some lucky fans in the studio, the album them unfolds into an almighty collection of hit-and-miss records.

The aforementioned Kill Caustic is a proper head-banger overloaded with goth-like screams and frantic guitar solos that is more than likely to have the meek-mannered reaching for the off button.

But thereafter, things improve a little. Forthcoming single Miss Murder is a radio-friendly foot-stomper built around some thumping beats, a catchy riff and an overall style that’s reminiscent of Green Day.

The ‘hey, hey, heys’ that run throughout the chorus are certain to go down a storm in live format.

Summer Shudder is another big number, packed with crunching riffs and a nostalgic nod to the 80s rock anthems the band grew up listening to.

While The Interview is a slow-builder that adds some layers to Davey Havok’s vocals, fading them in and out to compliment the atmospheric nature of the track in general.

The experimental synths are in full effect during the opening moments of Love Like Winter, another decent offering that benefits from breaking up the guitars somewhat – although the 80s anthem-rock sound of the chorus is as cheesy as they come.

But the remainder of the album is fairly routine. Affliction is a tedious head-banger that resorts to the Goth-rock formula, while The Missing Frame is built around big drums and cascading riffs but feels pretty generic within the context of the album.

Kiss And Control and Endlessly, She Said benefit from a little more restraint and provide more evidence of the synth-based sound they are experimenting with but the remainder of the tracks are competent without really impressing.

A cover version of Nine Inch Nails’ seminal Head Like A Hole merely succeeds in reminding listeners of who AFI are imitating without as much success. It’s a straight forward cover version that brings nothing new to the original whatsoever

With this in mind, Decemberunderground has been created to appeal to the 130,000 purists only. It doesn’t really try to extend beyond its reach despite dabbling in some different instrumentals. As such, it’s an average listen at best.

Track listing:
1. Prelude 12/21
2. Kill Caustic
3. Miss Murder
4. Summer Shudder
5. Interview
6. Love Like Winter
7. Affliction
8. Missing Frame
9. Kiss And Control
10. Killing Lights
11. 37mm
12. Endlessly She Said
13. Rabbits Are Roadkill On Rt 37
14. Head Like A Hole