The album was released with three different covers, featuring different colors for the logo and text. The colors were red, silver and black. The original cover features red artwork. Several of the first pressings in the United States and United Kingdom featured the silver cover, but the pressings are now rare and out of print, although the digital version of Sing the Sorrow among iTunes still features the silver artwork. The black cover was solely available at performing shows within the United States tour following the album's release, and through the Despair Faction's online store as well. The black cover is now rare and out of print, with only 2,500 copies in circulation.
All versions of the back cover feature a small encircled picture. The picture is of an ocean horizon, a reference to the artwork of AFI's fourth studio album Black Sails in the Sunset. Although the album was released through DreamWorks Records, a logo of Nitro Records is found on the back cover of all versions, AFI's previous record label. The second to last page of the album booklet features a small picture of a rabbit with the phrase "Rabbits are Roadkill" written next to it, a reference to the song "Rabbits are Roadkill on Rt. 37", recorded during the Sing the Sorrow sessions and released in 2005.
International versions of the album use different artwork on the album label. Often contain a picture of an inverted octopus whilst other contain a foraminifer or a dead bird. All of the pictures are taken from the book Animals by Jim Harter. Some versions, including the Ukrainian edition, feature no artwork on the album label, and have inconsistent cover artwork from other versions.
Sing the Sorrow's seventh track, "Death of Seasons", features the only use of profanity on the album. "Fuck" appears twice in the track: once at the 1:33 mark as "all of this hatred/is fucking real", and later at the 2:52 mark as "'cause this hate/is fucking real." However, the album managed to avoid receiving the RIAA's "Parental Advisory Warning" label on the cover by citing the lyric as being "sucking" within the booklet, as they had thought the label would ruin the album artwork.
A special limited edition was released that included the short film Clandestine on DVD, directed by Norwood Cheek. It also contained a 60-page booklet featuring extensive artwork and lyrics as well.
The film is eight minutes in length and stars all four band members. The film contains references to imagery and concepts from the album. The film focuses on the four band members trying to obtain a mysterious box which bears resemblance to the Sing the Sorrow album cover. The film features two alternate soundtracks, one by Hunter Burgan and the other by Jade Puget. Only 20,000 copies were pressed.
Extra tracks are featured on several international versions of the CD release. US editions of the CD release included links to the bonus tracks "Synesthesia" and "Now the World" on a "secret site" that is now defunct.
All versions of Sing the Sorrow contain a spoken poem and the song "This Time Imperfect" as a hidden track. After a brief silence, piano music begins to play as Jade Puget's younger brother Gibson speaks the first third of the poem. After the poem is concluded, the hidden track "This Time Imperfect" fades in, featuring a guitar playing backwards and extensive sampling.
Critical response to Sing the Sorrow was very positive. The review aggregator Metacritic scored the album an 81 out of 100, based on 11 reviews, with the mention of "Universal Acclaim".E! Online called it "[a] well-crafted mix of hardcore bluster, determined melody and anthemic grandness that boasts depth and texture rarely heard from the Warped Tour ilk."Alternative Press awarded the album a perfect score, saying that, "Sing the Sorrow soars with the kind of melodies hit singles are made of, yet it somehow persists with AFI's esoteric darkness."Allmusic awarded the album 4 out of 5 stars and wrote: "Emerging in early 2003 with Sing the Sorrow, it's clear the molting process AFI began with Black Sails in Sunset is complete," and concluded that, "Whatever factions of the band's longterm fans might think of their major-label affiliation, Sing the Sorrow represents a coalescing of the band's sound."Rolling Stone awarded the album a 4 out of 5, claiming that "Sing the Sorrow is not exactly a concept album, but it does have a singleness of dark purpose that builds in momentum as the disc progresses." In further support, The New York Times rated Sing the Sorrow as the tenth-best album of 2003. Conversely, Entertainment Weekly awarded the album a 'D,' commenting that "The songs combine the most pretentious and overworked elements of their influences."The New York Times listed the album as one of the best of 2003.
It ranked #77 in the October 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine's List of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. The album's lead single "Girl's Not Grey" received a 2003 VMA for the 'Best MTV2 Music Video' category. The track is also a playable track on the video gameRock Band 2, and a downloadable track for the video game Guitar Hero 5 and iPhone/iPod touch application Tap Tap Revenge. "The Leaving Song Pt. II" was also made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series. "Dancing Through Sunday" was featured as a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. "Miseria Cantare" was used in the trailer for the 2014 short film Interference, which premiered at the Roxbury Film Festival.
All songs recorded during the Sing the Sorrow sessions unless otherwise noted.
Demo versions of "Synesthesia", "This Celluloid Dream", "The Great Disappointment", "Paper Airplanes (makeshift wings)", "...but home is nowhere", and "The Leaving Song" can be found as b-sides on the album's single releases.
A different version of "Now the World" can be found on the 336 EP and the "Girl's Not Grey" single. The title can be found in the special limited edition book of Sing the Sorrow.
"Reivers' Music" is featured on the DVD of the special limited edition album. It can also be found on the 336 EP and "Girl's Not Grey" single.
"Rabbits are Roadkill on Rt. 37" was recorded during the Sing the Sorrow sessions, and was eventually released on the MySpace Records: Volume 1 compilation in November 2005 and as a bonus track on the UK and Australian editions of Decemberunderground.
"Carcinogen Crush" was recorded during the Sing the Sorrow sessions, but the band felt that it did not fit the album. The title can be found in the special limited edition book of Sing the Sorrow. It was eventually re-recorded during the Decemberunderground sessions, but remained unreleased. It was eventually released as a bonus track on the video gameGuitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and as a digital single on December 4, 2007. It is also featured on the "Medicate" UK vinyl and the Japanese version of Crash Love. Jade Puget confirmed in a blog entry that Hunter Burgan is the sole songwriter of the song. The Sing the Sorrow version remains unreleased.
"100 Words" was recorded during the Sing the Sorrow sessions, and was not released until 2009 on the deluxe version of Crash Love. The title can be found in the special limited edition book of Sing the Sorrow.