Sound — 10
The general public might have thought that AFI had dropped of the planet, after their three years out of the limelight, but now their back with a much more straightforward, intimate, and meloncholic album than its predacessor "Sing The Sorrow." I'm going to say right off the bat that if you hated STS, because it was "softer", you're probably not going to feel much different about this album. Prelude 21/12 is a great opener, that stray from previous openers, to create a dark almost hip hop sound. It has its abrasive heavy tracks (Kill Caustic, Miss Murder, Affliction) which include some great screams not really heard from Davey before, but the albums most standout songs are the more melodic/dramatic ones. Summer Shudder, The Interview, and The Killing Lights are prime examples. There is also a nice little '80s vibe in some of the songs, remniscent of a cross between U2, Duran Duran, and AFI. 37mm has a cool industrial feel, and makes great use of drum samples. And then there's Endlessly, She Said, the closer, which is a great sum of the whole album. I'm gonna go right out there and say that AFI is starting to look like the new Smashing Pumpkins, in terms of artsy melodic creativity. Also like the Pumpkins, either you love em or hate em. My favorite moments of the album are Davey's new screaming, Jades backing vocals on the Interview, and the overall subtleness and beauty of the album.
Lyrics — 10
According to Davey Havok, Decemberunderground is a place where all the people with broken hearts go to wallow in self misery. The lyrics do a very great job in supporting that concept. They aren't nearly as opaque and hard to follow as STS's lyrics. Most of the songs are about losing love, or the results from it. Davey's vocals are somewhat different, but still retain the same feel. He doesn't sing the real high notes nearly as often, but still gives you a good "Oh!"
Overall Impression — 10
In comparison with other albums by bands normally grouped with AFI, Decemberground is by far superior, on the grounds that they can make an amazing album that will bring in new AFI hungry fans, please the old fans, and completely reinvent their sound without selling out. Standout tracks are Kill Caustic, Summer Shudder, The Interview, Love Like Winter, and Endlessly, She Said. Love how AFI can change their style, and still make music just as good and innovative. I know I should be damned for burning this album before its release date, but AFI knows that their fans will buy the album regardless, and on 6/6/06 that exactly what I'm doing. I recommend this album to all AFI fans who haven't walked out on the band, and who have waited most patiently for the time this masterpiece to be released.