A decade ago, the Cali bred AFI was a typical bark-and-lunge hardcore band, but by album No. 4 (1999's Black Sails in the Sunset), they'd perfected an eerie, metal-edged Cure sound. Their seventh effort, DECEMBERUNDERGROUND is the most melodically acute distillation of that style yet. Despite the relentlessly abject lyrics, massively hooky tracks like ''Love Like Winter'' have enough arena-rock appeal to register as instant classics. On the downside: Unless you're really young and bummed, it's difficult to fully empathize with such exquisitely crafted misery.