Sound — 7
AFI have always had people criticize the way their music has evolved over the years. You can't mention the band's name without some ignorant bystander calling them a sell out. It's become a ridiculous fad to call any maturing and ascending group a "sell out". If anything, AFI should put these kinds of critics to rest. Davey and the boys have got a completely familiar and yet totally unexpected new sound going for them on 2006's Decemberunderground. Combining their own flavor of 80's-esque new wave with the old brooding and edgy punk sound that we know and love, AFI have created a completely fresh batch of new songs. The band has definitely found themselves on Decemerunderground, and songs like Summer Shudder and The Killing Lights are only minor examples of what they have brought into the fold. In terms of what guitarist Jade and bassist Hunter dish out on Decemberunderground, I'm not terribly impressed. There are very few interesting basslines to behold. The closest Hunter gets to truly grooving is on The Killing Lights. Jade has a couple fun intro's in songs like The Missing Frame and Summer Shudder. I don't know quite what I was expecting (maybe some solo's for a change), but I expected more. The first time I listened to Decemberunderground, I have to say that I was fairly disappointed. It wasn't like their previous album Sing the Sorrow where the melodies and hooks and choruses all seemed to just hit you right from the get-go. No, this was different. Decemberunderground took some significant time to sink in. It wasn't until three or four good listens that I was relatively impressed.
Lyrics — 6
I'm not the first guy to complain about the lyrics of the band. I've never found Havok's lyrics very interesting. As many people have noted, practically every song on Decemberunderground deals with death in one way or another. It bothers me that this is all that Davey can come up with to write. The man has a made life, and yet all he can muster is lyrics about suicide and blood? If you ignore the lyrics, or at least don't take them to heart, Decemberunderground is almost as enjoyable as it would be if it actually contained some good lyrics. Another thing I absolutely hate about the lyrics on Decemberunderground is that about half of them are screamed. I've always found Havok's screaming enjoyable on others album, but this time around it seems like he's simply trying to copy acts like Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu rather than come up with something original. However, I'm glad to say that the backing vocals by the rest of the band are extraordinary. They make nearly every chorus a joy to listen to.
Overall Impression — 8
I've found that, after eight or so listens, Decemberunderground stands somewhere near the excellence that was Sing the Sorrow. It's not quite as listener-friendly (despite what people have said), but I think most people can get something positive out of it. The lyrics mostly disappoint me, because I feel like Havok could give so more, but I guess that's what past albums as for. Adam's drumming is great, and Hunter and Jade hold their own on several occasions, so the musicianship is rather tight. The majority of the songs on DU are fun and each have their own redeeming characteristics, also. Overall, pick up DU if you are a fan of the band, or if you're looking for something fresh from the music scene.