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AFI – Sing the Sorrow

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Mar 14, 2023.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

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    How exactly did AFI transition from being a band that hardcore and goth kids had in their back pocket to becoming such a pop culture worldwide phenomenon? The answer depends on who you ask. Having outgrown their indie label of Nitro Records given the monumental success of their fifth studio album, The Art of Drowning, AFI were simply destined for a wider audience on their major label debut called Sing the Sorrow. This record was produced by A-list veterans Jerry Finn (Blink-182) and Butch Vig (Nirvana), and they helped the band craft some of their strongest songs to date. Much to the surprise of many record executives, and to the delight of their Dreamworks Records label, AFI’s Sing the Sorrow would sell 96,000 copies in its first week and debut at number five on the Billboard 200. This record seemed to be an unstoppable giant that both the hardcore/goth kids could sing a long to with the same audience as newer fans who liked Blink-182 and other pop-punk bands. The lead single of “Girl’s Not Grey” was a perfect choice of introducing AFI to a wider audience, and it was filled with slick hooks, great guitar work, and Davey Havok’s trademark vocal howls. The great thing about AFI’s growing audience was that their concerts would be a combination of kids from all different backgrounds coming together with the same unified feeling towards this band’s music. This accomplishment didn’t happen overnight, and yet AFI’s trajectory had quickly launched into the stratosphere.

    Sing The Sorrow opens in a similar fashion as The Art of Drowning with its call to arms approach of brooding in the darkness on “Miseria Cantare (The Beginning)” before Havok sings passionately, “Nothing from nowhere, I’m no one at all / Radiate, recognize one silent call / As we all form one dark flame.” It was a meeting of minds of bringing together all audiences to dance through the misery. “The Leaving Song Part II” follows the level-setting opening track with an ultra-unique guitar riff from Jade Puget that spirals its way around Havok’s lyrics. Havok sways between near-screamed vocals to a crisp croon on the second verse of, “Imperfect cry, and scream in ecstasy / So what befalls the flawless? / Look what I’ve built, it shines so beautifully / Now watch as it destroys me.” AFI were never strangers to the darkness, and yet there is more glimmers of hope to be found on this record. The music video associated with this song really captured AFI’s strong live performance, and showcased why they were one of the premiere acts you needed to see live in concert to get the whole picture.

    ”Bleed Black” invited audience participation on the refrain of, “(If you listen) Listen, listen / (Listen close) Beat by beat / (You can hear when the heart stops) I saved the pieces / (When it broke) And ground them all to dust.” The material was dark, but the sounds around the lyrics still allowed for chances to mosh away the worries. One of the more recognizable songs from the LP is “Silver and Cold,” that remains a staple in AFI’s setlist. I remember when the music video for this came out, and Davey Havok looked as captivating as I’ve ever seen, and he really came into his own as an actor within this setting. The bigger budget videos allowed for AFI to spread their music like wildfire to larger and larger audiences.

    ”Dancing Through Sunday” sounds as if AFI merged with Blink-182 to write a hardcore/punk anthem, and that’s where Jerry Finn’s expertise really came in handy in making sure it still sounded like AFI. It just happened to be a super-charged version of themselves that could adapt to a wider audience for consumption. “Girl’s Not Grey” really started off the incredible ascension of this band, and is the perfect starting point for someone to determine if AFI is for them. Luckily this song captivated not only longtime fans of the band, but made a plethora of new fans as well.

    ”Death of Seasons” is a song that just demands to be played in a dark club setting, as Havok’s vocals growl against the buzzing lights above. The bass line by Hunter Burgan paired with the drumming of Adam Carson is just pure magic, and showcased that AFI was growing at a pace that may have been unforeseen a few years back. The picturesque lyrical imagery found on “The Great Disappointment” as Havok sings cautiously, “I can remember a place I used to go / Chrysanthemums of white, they seemed so beautiful / I can remember, I searched for the amaranth / I’d shut my eyes…to see / Oh, how I smiled then, so near the cherished ones / I knew they would appear…saw not a single one / Oh, how I smiled then, waiting so patiently / I’d make a wish…and bleed,” highlights AFI’s finest work that is mapped out to perfection.

    Other songs on the back half like “Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings)” find AFI showing off with breakneck tempo changes and vivid lyrical imagery, while the ballad of “This Celluloid Dream” showed that this artist was capable of painting a masterpiece at just the right moment in their career. “The Leaving Song” is a nice pre-cursor to the double closing songs of “…But Home Is Nowhere” and “This Time Imperfect,” with the latter showcasing a masterful crescendo towards the tail end of the track to leave the listener in utter awe of what they had just experienced.

    At a time when so many pop-punk, emo, and hardcore bands were being signed to major labels, AFI arguably deserved this new glory the most. Having formed in 1991, and then finding their true, breakthrough success in 2003, it was a remarkable achievement for a hard-working band that was ultra-prepared for their close-up.


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  2. Will E


    I always felt like Death of Seasons could’ve belonged in Blade’s soundtrack
    palebluedot and paythetab like this.
  3. TM90


    Whenever I play albums from 2001-2004, invariably the thought crosses my mind, "yeah, but Sing the Sorrow."

    Simply a perfect album.
  4. WadeCastle


    can't wait for my record to come in the mail this summer!

    STS = 10 outta 10

  5. JamesMichael

    Software Engineer Prestigious

    Absolute classic.
    paythetab likes this.
  6. Boozeradly


    This album is so important.
    paythetab likes this.
  7. VanderlyleCrybaby


    I remember listening basically to only STS and Good Mourning by Alkaline Trio in the summer 2003, I didn't remember this had come out in March. What I do remember though is being obsessed with Girls Not Grey and getting this album and putting it on my parents' giant stereo when I was home alone and Miseria Cantare absolutely blowing my mind; it was so theatrical, like Queen mixed with hardcore/punk or something. The album was an absolute game changer for me (and so many others) and I still listen to songs from it regularly. I was finally able to see them live for the first time this past November in Chicago (they were amazing, Davey climbed up the opera seating all the way to the top balcony of the Riviera during Beautiful Thieves lol) and I really love all of their work from Black Sails onward but STS still holds a very special place in my heart. Cheers to 20 years!
  8. maryp1603

    Hey. Supporter

    My favorite album of all time. I have the logo tattooed on my shoulder.
    WadeCastle and paythetab like this.
  9. Smee22


    This album really did transcend fandoms. I remember my friend’s older brother who was very into classic rock and Pearl Jam type bands absolutely loving this album. Always thought that was cool.
    333 GANG and paythetab like this.
  10. Ska Senanake


    I got Take Off Your Pants and Jacket when i was 10 thanks to a family friend who was a few years older and that stayed in my Walkman for about 2 years straight. Then i got real into Weird Al for a few years. Sing the Sorrow was the first album I got in 7th grade that really marks the start of my journey into emo/alternative rock (quickly followed by War All The Time and In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3). This album is flawless and hey it was produced by Jerry Fucking Finn so it sounds absolutely perfect.
  11. vein.ftm

    Trusted Prestigious

    I only listened to numetal before this album
    Dan O'Neill likes this.
  12. VanderlyleCrybaby


    Sing the Sorrow, War All The Time, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3 (and so many others)...that really was a golden era
  13. tytymcg


    This was one of those albums that changed music for me. Before this I was really into pop punk and just songs, but after this I needed music to be more than that, I needed a whole album to be good, and not just good but feel like a coherent journey from start to finish, each song blending perfectly into the next one. The albums that truly did that to me and had the biggest impact on my musical influences were this, Blink-182’s Self Titled, Coheed’s Second Stage Turnine Blade, and Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me.
    paythetab and Paulms85 like this.
  14. Sandslash Mar 16, 2023
    (Last edited: Mar 16, 2023)


    I think the overall sound of this record is what really drew me in & kept me going back to it. It was punk, but had a darker edge than American Hi-Fi, blink or most of the other stuff on the radio. I didn't really have any idea what any of the lyrics meant on the surface level, but the melodies were so good that it captured a certain feeling. Even if you didn't become obsessed with the band like most of us did, STS never really got old because the songs stood on their own & the sequence of the album flows so well. They could mix in bits of all of their hardcore & new wave influences without making it sound out of place.

    This is also a really underrated "learn how to play guitar album." Jade is so good at building a song off one chord & doing little tricks like not playing the same thing in every verse or using all six strings instead of strumming power chords. It's simple stuff but it really hammered the point home to me that you don't need to be a guitar virtuoso to be a good songwriter. He did a lot of that on DU as well.
  15. thebe_st


    Love seeing so many people say these great things. I remember when STS came out I was big into music potentially as a career but I was definitely not in the "goth crowd". I loved this album immediately and never found many folks that felt the same way. Conversations with older friends, professors, family as they rolled their eyes when I mentioned STS as important, huge, nearly flawless beginning to end, etc. But I believed it to be true and stand by it, now 20 years later, with history on my side.

    AbsolutePunk steered me into AFI when I never would have gone out of my way to listen to them and it's why I'm still checking Chorus through the week decades later. Great retrospective review and thanks for the walk down Nostalgia Lane, Adam!
    paythetab likes this.
  16. fredwordsmith

    Trusted Supporter

    Jerry Finn is as important as any individual band to that era. He was an absolute fucking magician.

    An all timer of a record.
  17. Jason Crawford


    Artist in the Ambulance
    paythetab and VanderlyleCrybaby like this.
  18. WadeCastle


    everyone in here should check out my 2003 era playlist, i picked two songs each from all the albums that came out in 03 from the alt scene. and 1 song from various EPs, i've gotten a lot of good feedback from the various genres included. shuffle it up sometime whoever see this!! :)

    take a trip down memory lane!
    VanderlyleCrybaby likes this.
  19. VanderlyleCrybaby


    Wow I forgot about Try Honesty, awesome thanks for sharing.
  20. WadeCastle


    VanderlyleCrybaby likes this.
  21. surgerone

    Regular Supporter

    Your story parallels my life almost exactly
    Ska Senanake likes this.