I had the benefit of hearing AFI through a virgin ear. I’d never listened to the band before popping in their new release, Decemberunderground, therefore I will not assail you with complaints of how they used to be punk, and they went emo-soft and sold out. I popped in this disc with ears that have been saturated with the crap that sells records lately, and am admittedly a tough sell on anything even remotely “emo” in nature.

This recording is slick with Jerry Finn production, so what jumps out of the speakers sounds reminiscent of Green Day and Alkaline Trio. It’s polished pop-punk, bright with hit singles and mainstream possibility. Lead off single “Miss Murder” is so close to Green Day’s American Idiot sound that it’s close to being a rip-off… but it’s a catchy song that gets the album off to a start that hooks you right in.

The band’s versatility is demonstrated in the genre-bouncing sounds from song to song. Aside from the multiple radio-friendly singles, is a heartfelt ballad (“The Interview”), while the very next track (“Love Like Winter”) is Erasure meets R.E.M. and the one after (“Afflcition”) is straight-up metal-core.

Having been in the California scene for 15 years (!!!), the band has many loyal fans in other bands. Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through and Nick 13 of Tiger Army provide guest vocals on the album.


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