POZ Decade: AFI - Sing The Sorrow

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 26, 2013

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Today PropertyOfZack is launching our fourth Decade feature in honor of AFI’s Sing The Sorrow, which just celebrated its ten year anniversary. The band has been quiet for a few years now, but the anniversary of one of the band’s most popular releases can’t help but bring memories back for AFI fans. We have commentary on the album via team members Josh Hammond, Marc Gary Gray, Deanna Chapman, and Adrienne Fisher, in addition to special words from Mike Hansen of Pentimento. Enjoy and reblog to let us know your thoughts on Sing The Sorrow ten years later!

Legacy of Sing The Sorrow 

In reality Sing the Sorrow has two legacies. 

To begin with the album serves as a major fork in the band’s career in terms of referencing their sound. With Jerry Finn and Butch Vig at the helm of production, their sound would shift from the horror punk and hardcore sound that fan’s had become accustom to, forming a more industrial and alternative sound flooded with synthesizers and samples. Combining the brilliance of both storied producers, AFI’s new sound caught the attention of media and fans alike. The album caught fire and built a buzz like the band had never experienced. 

All three singles from the album (“Girl’s Not Grey,” “The Leaving Song Pt. II,” and “Silver and Cold”) landed significant radio attention, help the album climb the charts. Peaking at 5 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, the album would grip the industry in a way not completely expected from previous releases. High praise from the media would also help drum up exposure for the band, eventually leading to a Platinum Record for Sing the Sorrow.  The album would slingshot the band into A-List status, changing the face of the career of AFI. With bigger venues, larger audiences and more exposure, the band’s speaking voice would quickly shift into a yell. Joshua Hammond (@endless_rambles)

Most important song on Sing The Sorrow

Sing the Sorrow showcases a pretty standard evolution that plenty of bands undergo - the move from hard to soft, from aggressive to introspective. AFI caught their fair share of flak from underground supporters for the shift, as it came in suspicious conjunction with their new major label home and with a host of songs that had mostly all but abandoned the hardcore punk style that was adopted on their previous releases. “Girls Not Grey” and “Silver and Cold” made for popular singles while deviating the furthest in style from the core aggression by which AFI had come to be defined. And while one can make the argument that the most popular songs are the most memorable, I’ll suggest differently.

"Dancing Through Sunday," while not belonging to mainstream rotation, is a fan-favorite and does the best job of demonstrating the group’s sonic evolution while still keeping one foot firmly in their punk roots. A fierce, upbeat song, it lyrically toys with juxtaposing the ideas of dance and sadness; the dark-and-twisted overtones are pretty exaggerated and won’t be winning over any adult fans here a decade later. However, the song most notably incorporates both the shrill vocal stylings of the AFI of old along with the deeply hooky chorus, contributing to the band’s newfound accessibility - "ohhhhh"s aplenty! Not to mention the presence of a hammy guitar solo following the bridge, which I may or may not have had playing the first time my dad ever took me to drive on a real highway…it totally shreds.Adrienne Ray Fisher (@adriennerayfush)

How the album changed the band’s future

Sing the Sorrow was the sixth release from AFI, but one of the firsts to have mainstream success. It opened up the band to a larger audience as they charted on Billboard’s top ten. Songs such as “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Silver and Cold” became increasingly popular. The band even won a VMA for the “Girl’s Not Grey” music video. This album gave the band their first mainstream success, which carried over into their next album, Decemberunderground. Being noticed on the charts and being exposed to a larger audience had definitely changed their future. They went on to get a slot on Saturday Night Live, headline festivals, and play in stadiums. Needless to say, Sing the Sorrow greatly helped the band’s future success.Deanna Champman (@deechapman21) 

Was AFI successful in following up Sing the Sorrow?

In a word, yes. 

A resounding yes in fact. After spending years flying under the mainstream public’s radar, Sing the Sorrow thrust AFI into the spotlight. At this point, AFI became a particular flavor of band: the popular, “mainstream” band that it’s okay to like even if you’re a music snob / elitist (i.e. Deftones, Queens of the Stone Age, Andrew W.K.., etc.) Their response to this newfound success was to release a retrospective compilation album to catch everyone up, which would end up charting. Two years latert hey would Decemberunderground. The album would end up going Platinum and the single “Miss Murder” would be featured in Guitar Hero and presented in an epic live performance on the MTV Music Awards. Since this apex in 2006, AFI have released one additional studio album, which was supported by fans but approached with slightly more critical negativity from the media. Lead singer Davey Havok has expanded into the world of fashion and musical theater, as well as an electronic side project entitled Blaqk Audio with AFI’s guitarist, Jade Puget. It is safe to say that regardless of what the future holds for AFI Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground have solidified a place for the band in the annals of punk rock history. They will continue to be a group that helps segue hardcore punk kids to emo (and vice versa) as well as a band that pushes androgyny forward to those who would demand their rock stars with more machismo. Long live male singers with feminine voices.Marc Gary Grey (@marcgarygrey)

How Sing The Sorrow hold’s up in 2013

To call Sing the Sorrow timeless might be a stretch, but only because it is nearly impossible to determine the legacy of an album in just over a decade. However, I can say with great confidence that the album is AFI’s greatest work. Spinning it tonight, it is rather obvious to determine that something special went in to both the writing process and production of the album. Shining with glimpses of synth-pop structure and crucial emo-core complications, AFI managed to take a career that was once littered with angst and turn it into an album that was embraced and related to on multiple levels. 

That connection still remains today, ten years later. Like the Cure, Joy Division and other bands that AFI were both inspired and influenced by, the sadness that is reflected in the songwriting does not age. Therefore, neither do the songs or the stories they tell. Emotions are forever. Joshua Hammond (@endless_rambles)

Perspective of Sing The Sorrow from a band

As a kid, I think most of our actions and intentions are based on a hunger to find ourselves. I’m not sure when, if ever, we actually become fully aware of who we are - but there are certain things that act as a stamp on your existence that let you know that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. At the tender age of 13, I was introduced to a band called AFI that changed my life in ways I’ll never be able to explain. AFI opened a door for me to a world where I actually felt like I was worth something. I began to expand my musical horizons, write my own songs, play in bands, and to this day, their influence is what puts me in a van with my best friends to play music around the world. 

While all their records have a special place in my heart, Sing The Sorrow was a record that genuinely moved me as a kid who was pretending to be a musician. So much so that I wanted to BE Davey Havok. I like to think I pulled it off. But anyway. It was the first time I ever had the mind to pay attention to production or structure or harmony or what have you. It was the first time I listened to a record specifically to hear not *what* a band was doing, but also *how*. 
The Art Of Drowning will always be my favorite record of theirs, but it’s probably got a lot to do with some nostalgic value and a constant rotation for several years before Sing The Sorrow was recorded. It’s a perfect record from front to back. It has a mood that’s unmatched by anything they’ve done before or since. It’s a classic opus of this generation of punk rock, and if you listen to it and don’t agree - then I feel bad for you, son. - Mike Hansen (@pentimentony)
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  8. spykekavehhsproduction reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    amazing 1 off my favorite album;s and band of all time
  9. daveyxvx reblogged this from marytheginger and added:
    My favourite album of all time is 10. I listened to this first thing this morning unknowing its birthday was today.
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  12. tsnitch reblogged this from pentimentony and added:
    Easily in my top 5 albums of all time
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  14. xackthesurreal reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Everything said here is spot on. Still one of my favorite records. I’m getting the album art tatted on me. See the last...
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    THIS IS AWESOME