Once heralded as the kings of East Bay hardcore AFI *have progressively, albeit very subtly, been moving on from their venomous ultra-fast roots, using their musical proficiency & gothic predilection to transcend into a style that is all their own. Sure, *The Misfits *were the first to commit themselves to a goth-punk aesthetic but listen to the hyper-melodic maturity exemplified on *_‘Sing The Sorrow’ _and a wider range of influences come to the fray.
As the chants of “you are now one of us” (from the dark, masterful intro of ‘Miseria Cantare- The Beginning’), leads you in with a skeletal finger to the fast-paced netherworld of their major label debut first track ‘The Leaving Song Pt II’, all heightened production work and lofty guitar histrionics, is an immediate eye-opener into how good AFI just keep on getting. ‘Bleed Black’ _follows suit and as the most infectious track on the album (no doubt a hit single in waiting) it noticeably augments their trademark sing-along chants through it’s, _“if you listen, listen close/ you can hear when the heart stops” refrain. As the most likely candidate to propel AFI into the mainstream it thankfully retains every ounce of aggression and fury that has been the backbone of their work since their mid-90s inception.
Elsewhere on the album, virtuoso heavy metal solos (‘Dancing Through Sunday’) and a wonderfully refreshing blast of industrial beats - nestled amongst the raging screams of _‘Death of Seasons’ - _just about drains off the last drops of punk cred they may once have had from the rigid Berkeley scenesters. As expected, AFI have also dipped their toes further into the murky depths of gothdom – though not by any means fully submerged – where sorrowfully bowed strings and tinkling pianos create a melancholic atmosphere which, blended with the up-beat riffwork and echoing backing chants make _‘Sing The Sorrow’ _that much more captivating.
The fact the two bonus tracks (UK edition only) ‘Synthesthesia’ _and ‘Now The World’ _more than equal the standard raised before them, especially the latter, makes AFI something truly special indeed.
9Mat Hocking's Score