Review Summary: Haha, fucking GET IT? A fire inside?
In the 90s boyishly voiced punk Davey Havok got together with some guys in Berkeley and recorded some music. It was generally looked upon favorably- a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnate scene. That band would go on to raise heads on the East coast for a few years then quietly fade away. Yes, I said East coast. Yes, I said quietly fade away. Yes, I was talking about Heckle, melodic hardcore band and label-mates to a band whose members all seem to apparently suffer from acid-reflux disease.
This was after Davey had gotten together with a whole different group of guys and recorded the first few AFI releases (but long before he became boyishly voiced Devilock Dave and recorded some OTHER music with a-WHOLE-nother group of guys). Obviously it was time for East to meet West, so Heckle and AFI decided to release a split via their fraternally shared Wingnut records. “Aspirin Free” and “Advances In Modern Technology” would be featured on AFI’s second LP 1996’s Very Proud of Ya
, but these are without a doubt the most worthy versions. Adam Carson’s drumming takes on a far richer and altogether more organic tone on vinyl, and he sounds like Animal on extra good meth.
It’s a no-brainer that Mark Stopholese and Steve Cunningham aren’t the most accomplished at the six-string, but the latter has considerably more chops as evidenced by “Something Real,” where, not to be outdone by the dark, rumbling bass intro, he rips into a quick little solo during the breakdown. The guitars are higher in the mix and have a rougher sound, which adds the just-slightly-needed ballsack to a teenaged Havok’s whiney vocal delivery (which is actually toned down somewhat as opposed to later releases) and a good backdrop for Heckle front man Chris Baglieri to work in. Both groups give excellent performances, but AFI is easily outshone by their New Jersey counterparts, outshone meaning they gave 110% as opposed to 100%.
Heckle, quite simply, were the musically superior act at this time. Lyrically and in terms of overall song structure they had already grown out of the phase AFI found themselves in. Unfortunately, only one would endure, as AFI translated their early success in the Bay-area hardcore scene to Nitro records and eventually major-label DreamWorks. It’s too bad such success couldn’t have been reveled in, at least in some small part, for their partners on this split. But I guess it’s cool, because I really don’t want to think about what Heckle would sound like the day Davey Havok showed up, vegan burger in hand, and said “you guys should add, like, some laser blast effects and keyboards…”