The vampiric punkers return. Should they have bothered?
Back in 2003, underground goth punks A Fire Inside made a break for the bright lights with their major label debut ‘Sing The Sorrow’. Leering out from the cover of NME with the exotic allure of a pack of preening transvestite vampires, they shifted a million albums, only to blow their chance spectacularly. Warded off by the glare of success, they skulked back to the safety of their San Franciscan crypt. Within 18 months, Franz and The Killers had driven commercial stakes through AFI’s art.
Yet if a week is a long time in politics, three years is forever in music, and with MCR making dysfunctional death cults fashionable again, AFI have timed their return exquisitely. The crunching call to arms of opener ‘Kill Caustic’ and sublime, swing-tinged single ‘Miss Murder’ make for an impressive re-introduction. That the rest of ‘Decemberunderground’ is, for the main, a maudlin mope-fest comprised chiefly of schlock rock clichés (‘The Killing Lights’) and slightly risible stabs at synth-pop (‘The Interview’), just about redeemed by choruses you could hang a trench coat on, is almost beside the point. With a comeback pitched between the indulgent love-metal of HiM and the pubescent pop-punk of Fall Out Boy, AFI’s hiatus looks increasingly less like laziness and more like a marketing masterstroke. Don’t bet on their fire being extinguished just yet.