The origins of AFI (A Fire Inside) are humble-- four high school students making noise in a garage in the early 90's, looking for some way to alleviate boredom in a small town between skateboard sessions. As they learned to play their instruments with each practice, even they couldn't imagine what the band would become.

On September 26th, afi released their fifth full-length album, entitled The Art of Drowning, which showcases exactly what it is AFI has evolved into-- a band with a sound unlike any other, a sound where chilling melodies collide alternately with furious aggression and somber melancholy. While their music is firmly rooted in both punk rock and hardcore, they have effectively blasted away any distinction between the two and can claim an army of fans from both subcultures as well as virtually every other underground or extreme music genre from goth to metal.

Not just a "studio" band, the intensity of afi's live performances must be seen and heard to be believed. "Through our bleeding, we are one!" the crowd chants as the band takes the stage, wherein occurs an exchange of energy between band and audience that is much like a lightning storm-- charging and changing the normally genial vocalist Davey Havok into a man possessed. One of the ways the band has garnered the fanatic following they now enjoy is through the plain hard work of many a month spent on the road. They've toured with such acts as The Offspring, Rancid, Danzig/Samhain and Sick Of It All to name but a few, as well as doing a stint on the most recent Warped Tour. Since their first nationwide tour in 1995, they have crossed the continent of North America countless times in their tours of the United States and Canada, done multiple tours of Europe and even paid a visit to Japan in 1998. AFI hit the road in support of The Art of Drowning with punk legends Rancid near the end of 2000 in what promises to be one of their most anticipated and exciting tours yet.

In addition to original members Havok and drummer Adam Carson, the band has seen its share of lineup changes, bassist Hunter (ex-The Force) entered the fold as a tour stand-in before recording on the band's third album "Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes," while guitarist Jade Puget (ex-Redemption 87) joined for the fourth full-length, "Black Sails in the Sunset," as well as the subsequent "All Hallows E.P.," a four-song release that contains the original version of "Totalimmortal" (a song which received heavy radio airplay all over the nation when it was recorded by The Offspring for the soundtrack to the film Me, Myself & Irene). Puget's task was not easy-- in addition to assuming guitar duties he became a primary writer of the band's music. Still, no one better understood where AFI had been musically and where they should go-- he'd known the band since the very beginning and had played guitar on the flip side of their first ever release, a split 7" with Loose Change released in 1992. Things coalesced quickly, Jade the perfect complement to Havok's brooding lyrics and accomplished vocal talents. There's no weak link in this chain-- to say that Hunter and Adam are accomplished in their respective rhythm section duties would be an understatement.

Such lineup changes might have destroyed another band, but the opposite has occurred with AFI -- with each new album and E.P. the band has bravely forged ahead into new musical territory, all the while maintaining their original energy and intensity. The Art of Drowning is no exception to this progression, but while it contains the inevitable musical surprises that avid listeners have come to expect from the band, it is also a distillation of all that has come before, touching on every phase of their evolution, as well as what is to come. Of the new album, vocalist Davey Havok says, "I feel it's our most complete work." It is also the most sonically pleasing, recorded in Berkeley's famous Fantasy Studios with Chuck Johnson and mixed in the familiar environment of Art of Ears in Hayward with longtime associate Andy Ernst. Johnson, a well-respected veteran who's worked with everyone from Nick Cave to Korn, lent his expertise as he co-produced the new album with the band. The days of honing their craft in the garage are now a long ago memory, but one thing has not changed-- the fire inside AFI still burns, more strongly than ever. With each new record, each tour, each show, the flames spread-- ever igniting in new people and places, threatening to someday engulf the world.

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