Sound — 8
After the more experimental December underground, AFI have decided to go for a straight out rock record, after main writer Jade Puget had been writing for an electronic side project, he said it felt good to just write some rock. The sound is very much that, at times punk-y (I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here), at times more Alt-Rock (End Transmission) and at times pure beauty (Okay, I Feel Better Now). Although the album can feel a bit monotonous, there is enough variation to appreciate each of the songs and it feels a lot more complete than December underground.
Lyrics — 9
As always, AFI's lyrics are top notch. Singer Davey Havok has penned some beautiful lyrics in the past, even back in their hardcore punk days. Although lead single 'Medicate' has lyrics comparable to a general pop song, which may have turned fans off, this album is no short of their well-known lyrics. Lyrically, the songs that stand out are Torch Song, Okay I Feel Better Now, Sacrilege and It Was Mine. Torch Song and Okay, I Feel Better Now pull out words of deep devotion (I'd tear out my eyes for you my dear) to self denial famous in earlier works like "This Time Imperfect" (There is nothing to me). Sacrilege is one of the more aggressive songs on the album, attacking one of Havok's greatest hates, organized religion. I myself am an atheist, so I love this song, but rather than metaphorically attacking it (like in previous songs The Prayer Position and The Great Disappointment), Sacrilege just digs straight into it, and is one of the songs on this album you don't need to go far to comprehend. It Was Mine is something different. Many songs get acclaimed for great lyrics, simply because you have no idea what they mean. This song is like that, but myself, and many of those on song meanings.com, have noticed a connection between this, and one of my favorite books ever, George Orwell's 1984. This is obviously a song referencing the concept of Crash Love, a sort of Bonnie and Clyde story, of two rebels in love. This tells the story of their failure and death, and musically, has one of the greatest choruses AFI have ever pulled off, and is a perfect finishing track
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is a great improvement from December underground, but does not even touch Sing The Sorrow. The concept of it is good, the lyrics metaphorical, and contains what is now my second favorite song of all time, Okay, I Feel Better Now. But it does continue their pattern of changing with each release, gradually getting more pop-rock-ish, which does beg the question of what will their next release be like, which is hopefully due late 2012.