'Tis the season to be gloomy - so I thought I'd celebrate with some black, theatrically introverted goth-punk. I was thinking I'd post this up on Hallowe'en night, but I was busy (playing badminton, if you want to know) and anyway AFI have another record to that effect (the All Hallows EP). Today is All Soul's Day, so that should be appropriately gothic.
This isn't about any particular festival, however, as much as it is about the autumnal mood altogether. The clocks are set back, and the afternoons are darker. The weather is colder and windier. It's autumn, or, as you Americans quaintly call it, 'fall'.
I have a very clear memory of listening to this album while walking home from school, through a dark field, wrapped in a coat and a pair of headphones. Another Discman(TM) moment. I've always been a middling AFI fan - I got Art of Drowning, then Sing the Sorrow, and finally this album (plus the EP mentioned above). Anything after or before never particularly interested me, while I can find something of particular interest in any of those three albums. Art of Drowning is, hands-down, a plain good punk record; Sing the Sorrow, at least when I listened to it first, was an interesting exercise in experimentation and the more expansive kind of sound. Black Sails is, however, the album I turn to most often.
For all the overwrought theatrics, gothic affectations and sing-along masochism, AFI was a damn good hardcore punk band (What they are now is not something I really want to talk about - and what they were before was not, in my opinion, very listenable!) At least when you wanted something accessible, melodic and easily available. AFI was my emo before I discovered emo - I even wrote a creative writing piece under the influence of this album:
The sky. Burns.
Blood-red sun glows on the horizon, below clouds rimmed with crimson. No silver linings but the tint of fire on every one. The canvas of the sky painted in vivid shades of orange pinks stretches overhead- from deep, rich colour in the west it fades to faint wispy smudges in the east. Darkness comes closer with every minute.
A gust of wind carries past a flurry of leaves. Each one different, sanguine red mixed with saffron and brown. The last few hang frail, delicate, dying from a tree that is just a dark silhouette against a fiery backdrop.
Hold a single leaf in your hand. Dry and crinkled, like tinder, fuel for the fire of autumn. Weakened by age it was once soft and green now it is just a shade of summer. Its leafy flesh is dried and ripped, tattered and torn, just a fragile skeleton.
The dimmed sun retreats behind the skyline. The black and grey of night fills the air. Colours fade in one last display, the fire quenched as it submits to the cold of night. Long shadows now cover all the ground as the light is gone.
With each passing, the setting sun departs earlier as winter comes. Nights lengthen and the sun sets in the afternoon. No more drama of colour as the trees stand bare. Above the sky is now obscured by grey cloud, monochrome and lifeless. Autumn sunsets come to an end as we wait for the world to grow again.
It was pretty derivative; actually, it was mostly a pastiche of the lyrical stylings of Black Sails, amongst other AFI records. But it was also meant to convey the atmosphere of that dark field, and of the season as a whole. To this day, this album still slightly sounds to me like it's being played in the dark - there's a sense of space, and of organic tension. It's got a good beat, too.
AFI - Black Sails in the Sunset
PS : If I haven't convinced you of the merits of AFI, and you want something a little more authentic to rage out to in the long evenings, how about some Reach Out/Honeywell ? - "a little taste of brutality under these red November skies" - thanks to sweetbabyjaysus.