Review Summary: An excellent EP that stands up on its own as a release.
To begin with, I’d like to state that I do not like punk. There are several punk bands I do listen too, but they are exceptions. The reason I do not like punk is that I don’t like the simple style that it has. The exceptions are due to the band having a particular sound or unique characteristic, like The Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, The Misfits and AFI. I remember the first AFI song I heard, ‘This Celluloid Dream’, when the album Sing the Sorrow had just come out, and I loved it. It wasn’t long before I got my hands on most of their discography, and I immediately found my favourites to be Black Sails in the Sunset and the Art of Drowning. AFI’s career can be broken up into three general categories: the first, which was a raw, teenage angst punk style; the second, which was still quite raw punk, but a lot more refined and a lot more melodic. Davey had also gotten a hold of his voice and had begun to sing and use his vocal capabilities to the full, rather than scream like an angry little boy as he did on their first 3 albums. The final style, which began with Sing the Sorrow, and resulted in the dismal Decemberunderground, is an extremely over-produced and slick pop/punk sound with an emo tinge. Sing the Sorrow still had the great elements from earlier albums, but they were long gone by the time Decemberunderground had come out. It’s very common for fans of Black Sails in the Sunset and The Art of Drowning, like me, to avoid the new image AFI have made for themselves.
Anyway, this brings me to All Hallows. This self standing EP was released the same year as Black Sails in the Sunset (1999), along with the album and Black Sails EP, but All Hallows does not complement any album. It’s a short 4 song conceptual EP, with which AFI continue the excellent sound that the Black Sails album had. The EP is made up of 3 original songs, and one Misfits cover. In my opinion, the three original songs are some of the best songs AFI have ever made. The cover is also very good, extremely well done, but it does not meet the standard set by the other 3 songs.
The thing I love the most about this EP is the concept, and idea, that drives it along. This is obviously All Hallows Eve, which is more commonly known as Halloween. The cover of the EP portrays this holiday perfectly, including a delicious comical revamp of the artwork. The cover of the EP is one of my absolute favourites. The connection between the music and songs, with the cover, is astounding. The dark, brooding feel of the cover is portrayed excellently in the music, and the unique AFI sound perfectly represents the comical transformation evident in the cover. That’s what makes this EP amazing; the cover is intrinsically linked to the songs and to the image and sound of AFI at the time.
If you’ve listened to the Art of Drowning or Black Sails in the Sunset, then you’ve already got a reasonable idea of how this EP will sound. It is very similar musically, and this is pretty obvious seeing as the EP came out between the two albums. The usual tight song-writing is again apparent on this EP, with catchy choruses, perfect whoa-ohs, and as mentioned before, a tangible, dark atmosphere. The lyrics of the EP are incredible, just like a lot of AFI albums. Davey’s lyrics have always impressed me, and this EP is one of the biggest reasons why.
I hear them calling my name.
I feel them gnawing out holes,
all throughout my flawless soul.
That’s the chorus of ‘Totalimmortal’, and it might look a little tame written down, but Davey’s high and invasive voice really engraves the words into your mind. About 3 years ago I made it a task to find out actually what the songs on All Hallows meant, but whatever progress I made at the time, I’ve forgotten. Still, this does not take away from the alluring brilliance encapsulated in the lyrics.
The EP begins with a haunting melody, slow and dark, which becomes the song ‘Fall Children’. We’re then treated to a slight pause, before Jade Puget’s well known aggressive guitar bursts to life, backed by an excellent rhythm. Another great aspect about this EP, and the same with most other AFI songs, is the bass. It’s always audible, and is always making each song a whole lot better to listen to. ‘Fall Children’ is a mesmerising song, mainly due to Davey’s wailing and whoa-ohs. The great sound is continued throughout the EP, and each song is very energetic and fast-paced, especially the legendary track ‘Totalimmortal’. The one slight problem the EP has is in the Misfits cover of ‘Halloween’. It’s a great cover still, and really fits the theme of the album with Davey’s haunting chanting, but it’s a bit slower than the other songs, and the spooky sound effects at the end of the song can get annoying sometimes. I would listen to the EP a lot more often if I didn’t have to bother with that prolonged ending, and in a lot of cases I skip ‘Halloween’. This is not to say I don’t like the sound effects, they’re very fitting, but I just can’t be bothered most of the time. The other song, ‘The Boy Who Destroyed the World’ is another excellent song, with a strong feeling of despair shrouding the vivacious music. Overall, the best word to describe the music of the EP is haunting
, which is another reason why the title All Hallows is perfect.
This is probably my favourite EP ever, and even one of my favourite releases. It’s not perfect though, but we can always imagine how good it would have been if AFI had made this into an album. The reason this does not get a 5 is because of the Misfits cover, and because it’s a very short EP. But as I said, if this had been turned into an album, I don’t doubt that it would have been a masterpiece and the pinnacle of AFI’s success.