By: Ryan Camuto
Way before your pseudo goth Black Veil Brides came out of the Hot Topic dressing room andafter Glenn Danzig and The Misfits put the horror into rock, a small punk band out of California took it upon themselves to get the guy liner, tragic poetry and predilection for the macabre going with A Fire Inside, later abbreviated to AFI. Married to Nitro Records at a time where punk wasn’t in the top 40s and a little bit of theatrics went a long way, this quartet pounded out quintessential albums Answer That And Stay Fashionable and Very Proud of Ya, then turned towards the darker band that many people associate with Havok and the guys.
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Welcoming Jade Puget to the mix on guitar, AFI started to embrace their goth tones and tendencies and what better way to sell their new fangled approach than by releasing a themed EP. Taking three new songs and adding THE Halloween song, AFI compiled the All Hallows EP and released it through, you guessed it, Nitro Records.
Why was this EP needed? What makes it stand out? Play the damn thing and if it doesn’t pull you in immediately, fuck right on off.
“Fall Children,” is ominously inviting listeners to a crooning Davey Havok, full throated, dragging you to that tight pick slide and thrashing punk beat. Yelling, hollering and a group vocal effort? AFI became the new Misfits in about 10 seconds flat. There is no stopping the fury of “Fall Children,” and Hunter on the bass, as overlooked as he may be, adds solid fills and quick moving lines that hold it all together. Gang harmonies? Get outta here! Davey commands his gang as they call back to him faithfully. The creepy children’s music at the end adds to the theme immensely, and tails the EP through and through.
Now, we mentioned the Misfits earlier and considering AFI’s influence and driving idea behind All Hallows EP what is more fitting that a faithful cover of seminal Misfits anthem “Halloween.” Davey and the boys are flawless, with tight punk beats and the rougher vocals from Davey contrast the crooning of Glenn Danzig. Following in their style, the crunchy basslines stand out in their fills but fall back into line during the gang sung chorus. The short track ends with more ominous creep-factor music. Detuned pianos, scuffling shoes and an assortment of dissonant sound effects fitting of Michal Myers. The build up adds cacophony, intensifying the spookiness, tapering off slowly.
There is no stopping for AFI, driving into most fast paced punk glory, “The Boy Who Destroyed the World,” embodies all that makes this EP fun. Noise overdriven guitars, punchy basslines and the meshing of Davey’s pitchy yelling with more gang harmonies carries the whole track to its abrupt stop, offering seconds before classic “Totalimmortal.”
How do you review a song that just makes you say….
The nostalgic giddiness I get when I hear that bass riff and then Davey going on about “the nameless ones,” is palpable. Every line in this song is punk rock, every metaphor and allusion to the darkness and mysticism Havok harps on is so tightly sewn together. The bridge breaks it down, leaving us with the hyping of Havok and that crunchy bass frenzy from Hunter.
Now every face, it looks familiar…
then every face would melt away until…
now everyone, do you know, I know your deception?
If the EP were just “Totalimmortal,” four times in a row, I would be OK with it. One of the best AFI songs of all time and a sure example of them in their Nitro Records heyday, the endcap to All Hallows EP is and was pure perfection.
The memories of blasting this on an old school CD player, pretending I could mosh at the age of 10 and yelling as loud as I could like Davey, put me on the path to being a musician and though I never could spin kick or mosh, AFI has always meant a great deal to me. Before their MTV days or becoming Hot Topic phenomes with Decemberunderground, these four California Horror Punks were something to be reckoned with.
With Halloween quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to join the Despair Faction, dust off your old record player (or just open your favorite streaming app) and put All Hallows EP on repeat.