Great record, yet when I want to listen to AFI, the AFI I want to listen to is the band on 'The Art of Drowning'.
When A Fire Inside signed to a major label, it was obvious change was inevitable; I just never thought it would be this drastic.
'Sing the Sorrow' is arguably the near perfect follow-up to 2000's epic 'The Art of Drowning', which appeared, along with all of their previous releases, on Dexter Holland's Nitro Records. 'Sing the Sorrow' is to a major label what 'The Art of Drowning' is to an independent label: an outstanding record, yet enormously different (i.e. Jimmy Eat World).
AFI recently said in an interview that they had already most of their hardcore fans years ago so the goal of 'Sing the Sorrow' was to create a record that they themselves wanted to do, as opposed to pleasing the fans. Similar to Glasseater, AFI have changed their style dramatically, and while fans of the older AFI will take this record like a boot in the teeth, true die-hard fans should enjoy this record just as much as any of their five previous full lengths. AFI now plays melodic punk, and I stress melodic, without betraying their hardcore roots. 'Sing the Sorrow' sounds unbelievably more mature and mainstream than any of the band's previous releases. Each song is incredibly melodic and the tempos have been slowed greatly. The semi-dark sound of the previous full length returns, however the over mixed and overproduced sound (the record was produced by legends Butch Vig and Jerry Finn) makes the record almost radio-friendly, especially on the first single "Girl's Not Grey".
Front man Davey Havok's vocals have changed a great deal, a lot less aggressive and more soothing, yet retaining the trademark annoyance that AFI has always had. That's not implying that AFI roots are not entirely forgotten; yet the only tracks on 'Sing the Sorrow' that even sound reminiscent of older AFI are "Dancing Through Sunday" (which features a great metal-inspired guitar solo) and "Death of Seasons", a track that has techno-beats in it. In fact the opening track "Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)" truly sets the overall tone for the record. Each track is (dare I say) catchy yet not annoying, a trait which so many new major label punk bands find themselves succumbing to. However, this record has many standout tracks, such as "Bleed Black", "The Leaving Song Pt. II", "Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings)", and especially "This Celluloid Dream". The album is far more diverse in musical styles than any other bands of the genre.
The lyrics are almost poetry-in-motion, easy to recall, but hard remembering. Many of the songs are the type that one purposely listens to over and over to memorize the lyrics.
The music performed on this record is very up-tempo, yet far slower and more drawn out than previous efforts, showing both strength and maturity in the band's songwriting. The great amount of diverse songs on 'Sing the Sorrow' are perhaps what make it stand out from any of the band's previous releases. Songs freely shift tempos and show a great deal of growth. While I do few there are a few tracks that just drag on too long, they are not enough to detract from the overall quality of this record.
An overall enjoyable record for listeners who are tired of the whole modern rock and pop punk that mainstream music is so overfilled with today. Old school AFI fans may hate this record, but it's clear that this band is moving on to bigger and better things.