Now taking a look at the past efforts of AFI makes you long after the hope that a band who fronted the gothic-core scene can return to their roots. I'm not saying that Sing The Sorrow isn't listenable, but this album of collected songs from Nitro records is a real reality check on how AFI was more than an average hardcore pop punk band. Drawing influences from The Misfits, Nine Inch Nails, and The Offspring (early years) and among others. This is an album full of the more memorable tracks from their past albums and rarities that were released on vinyl.
Starting with "The Art Of Drowning," Lost Soul's opening bass line gives the perfect opening track. Huge props to Hunter for being one of the greatest bassist in punk rock (IMO). After the opening, the song gives you some of the most intensity this album has to offer. The song writing is at its best and Davey's voice is nothing short of phenomical. Then breaks down into a really nice bridge. "I will seep under your skin. I will. I will hold onto your heart. I will." The Days Of The Phoenix offers an epic of a song. One of the more recognizable songs from "The Art Of Drowning." Laying down an image of a theatrical play, using symbols to tell the story of a love for another, while struggling with one's self. A Winters Tale is a vinyl only track from "The Art Of Drowning." It's a shame this track didn't make the final cut of the album, its would have made a nice fit. Song writing really play's a key in here, as for just about all AFI's songs. What stands out with this song is Davey's ability to paint a picture with words, describing inatamate objects and surroundings such as string of white lights.
From "All Hallow's" EP, possibly one of the greatest EP's of all time (IMO), Totalimmortal and Fall Children are two great choices to include. Totalimmortal is the first track I've heard from AFI, from the late MTV X a long ways ago. Its fast, dark, and an incredibly good moshing song. One great aspect to point out, is during the bridge, the bass drum pounds gets hearts racing and a soft whisper, saying "Now every face looks familiar." As many people know, The Offspring covered Totalimmortal for the Me Myself & Irene soundtrack. Although it was good, it didn't sound anything as good or raw as this original. As for Fall Children, simple fast pace punk. A bit of a slow start, somewhat of a quiet distorted guitar, but as Davey give a loud roar, it hits you like Santa's bag full of bricks. Hunter picks up a real nice bass line, which is consistent through out the song.
"Black Sail's In The Sunset" is most AFI's fan's favorite album, (but I prefer Art Of Drowning). Still this album has some of the most memorable moments than any other AFI album. Also it included guest vocals from The Offspring's Dexter Holland (which sometimes either ruined or made the songs). I cant complain on the song selections here, The Prayer Position and God Called In Sick Today are staples in retrospective to AFI. The Prayer Position is unique and unforgettable. Strong verse and the dual chorus vocals featuring Dexter is done in excellent taste. "And in the distance there's a gathering that no longer seems so far away." Also the biggest moment that stood out for me was the bridge, very powerful and moving. As for God Called In Sick Today, there is so much emotion going on with this song. Backup vocals sounds as if they were choked up, it fits perfectly with this song. Even Dexter's unfitting last "Whoa ho" couldn't throw me away from this song.
Here's the point way back in AFI's history where the gothic songwriting wasn't fluent yet, and early Offspring influences I mentioned earlier really kicked in. Mostly in the structures of the chorus and bass style really got to me. Lower It is taken from "Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes." Despite the strong chorus, tight drum style, and intensity of this song. I was pulled away from it by the blatant usage of the "Eff" word. There were a few songs like that for me, its not how I pictured AFI to be like. A Single Second sounds so much like an Offspring song, its scary. Its some aggressive verses, and the backing vocals in the chorus that's catchy as hell. One of my favorite AFI lines in any song comes right here "Oh my God, My God this cant be happening, God help me, tell me this isn't real." Third Season is possibly one of my favorite video's (other than Bloodhound Gang's "Foxtrot"). The song itself is flawed. From the under tuned distorted guitar, to the repetitive chorus towards the end. Davey's voice is strained and I have no idea if it was for effect, but it didn't do it for me. Its nothing more than a slight head bobbing headphone tune.
He Who Laughs Last is taken from "Very Proud Of Ya," a handy dandy record indeed. The song proves that AFI was a terrific hardcore band. Davey's vocals were still immature, but still makes the song. Its pretty short song, clocking in at 1:49, but it succeeds in every single way. Speaking of immature, I Wanna Get A Mohawk is sophomoric lyrics, but has the early AFI energy and nostalgia that fans love. Although the album order switched around a bit for this song, which was found on "Answer That And Stay Fashionable." Back to "Very Proud Of Ya," Perfect Fit's saving quality is on how infectious the chorus. Very nice drum playing here, but its still the basic "thump pound, thump thump pound" style.
Two rare vinyl tracks from "Very Proud Of Ya" (Rolling Balls, Who Said You Could Touch Me) actually was featured on a very early EP (wouldn't have known if it hadn't been for this site). Rolling Balls is the most unexpected song here. Its rare to see AFI to not write a serious song. Its about a guy who wasn't good enough for the guys bowling team, so he gives up everything, including his wife, his job, and his manhood. That's right, he turns into a girl so he can play for the women's bowling team. The song isn't the best musically, but it has a Suicidal Tendencies feel to it, especially the part the song breaks down for one note, then hops right back into "Now I made my change..." Who Said You Could Touch Me kinda annoys me in a way. It's a decent song, but it keeps the same exact bass line, and most of the guitar work the same eff'n way. Also the lyrics wasn't the most advance in the AFI catalog. Its nice it made it onto the album, but it wasn't necessary.
Lost Souls A -
The Days Of The Phoenix B +
A Winters Tale B +
Totalimmortal A -
Fall Children B
The Prayer Position B+
God Called In Sick Today A
Lower It C +
A Single Second B +
Third Season C
He Who Laughs Last A -
I Wanna Get A Mohawk C +
Perfect Fit B -
Rolling Balls A -
Who Said You Could Touch Me C+
To sum it up, this retrospective on AFI is great to enjoy for new and old fans alike. Has a lot to offer including rare tracks only found on vinyl. When songs are picked for an album where there were no technical singles, there are usually complaints on the song selection. I really had no complaints (although "The Boy Who Destroyed The World, Highschool Football Hero" would have been nice.) Its kinda hard to come up with a snazzy final line so.... That's My Mamma!