AFI (A Fire Inside) - Sing the Sorrow
Reviewed by Andreas on 27th April 2003
"Love your hate, your, faith lost, you, are now, one, of us...... as we all form one dark flame" - Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)
Ahh... it's been a while since anything punk-ish sounded this good! AFI have caused quite a little stir on the punk/rock scene with their rather avant-garde take on punk. They mixed it with darkness, gothic poetry (thankfully not poetry about razorblades) and black makeup. Imagine Brandon Lee in full "The Crow"-kit singing in a band!
The album itself is rather dashing, the cover art is more serious, more suitable than the band's earlier comic stripe-looking designs (the old designs featured a lot of pumpkins for some reason). Starting with a brooding epic aptly called "Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)" the mood is quickly set. I'm guessing this is the ultimate set opener at gigs as well.
It's followed by "The Leaving Song pt. 2" and "Bleed Black" both of which add to the atmosphere. "Bleed Black" is in fact one of the best tracks on the album, with it's very "chantable" chorus. The sound is very big, massive streams of vocals, bass and guitars come at you from the second they kick in.
The songs are mixed, at times tilting back to the punk side of things, with fast drum beats and fast guitars. Screamish vocals mark "Death of Seasons" as "the fast, punky one". Classic AFI style... or so you'd think. After about one minute, industrial dance drum samples start and last for about 10 seconds. Personally I was pretty taken aback, a feeling that remains until the end when the violins draw the song to a close. Just goes to show the diversity of the album and the band.
"Girl not grey" is the first single, but I think it's pale in comparison to other songs. Actually it's about the weakest song on the album. If I were to choose a favourite, it would be the closing track "... but home is nowhere". The walls of sound, the tragic lyrics and the whole feeling of this is amazing. There's also enough despair and desperation present to ruin the mood of a hippie blissed out on 10 grams of weed. A very worthy closing track indeed!
This album does have it downs though, everything does. In this case it'll be that some of the songs are too much alike, three or four songs sound like pure filler. They're not bad songs, don't get me wrong, they're all produced perfectly. They do very much a thing of their own. Using samples and synths and other instruments, AFI have created something very original, and it'll probably see them shoot into the mainstream rock scene (which, apparently, is Kerrang! Tv...). The punk element seems almost out of place here, as if they're still feeling the water. This is AFI setting their sound in stone, I'm guessing the next album will see them in control of themselves and their music.
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