Before AFI really hit the mainstream with their melodramatic, misguided, and sluggish worship of the Cure, they were an insipid and dull mall punk band from California. However, in between, they experienced one of the few transitional periods that far outstripped what came before and after, All Hallow’s E.P. being the peak of that transition. For a couple years, AFI weren’t sluggish or dull. They were fantastic.
This EP came about a a year prior to The Art of Drowning, that and this representing the band’s horror punk period. Davey was taking vocal cues from Glenn Danzig with surprisingly successful results, the mood was one of perpetual Halloween, with the perfect level of campiness reminiscent of golden era Misfits. However, due to their roots in Cali skate punk, there’s a deftness and speed to the melodies not commonly found in horror punk, allowing AFI to sound like more than talented copycats.
“Fall Children” kicks off the A-side with some darkly atmospheric guitar that explodes into a wall of fuzz as Davey croons out “As the cries start to penetrate still air, this day we celebrate, the wait now ends”. The song then bursts into a breakneck forward velocity, accentuated by well-placed, anthemic woah-oh-ohs (a necessity for any great horror punk). Lyrics check: smoke plumes (check), lantern (check), destiny (check), deadened branches (check). We have a winner. The song fades out with a bit of haunting glockenspiel into a cover of Misfits’ “Halloween”, which sounds different enough from the original to warrant a listen without being a drastic deviation. The original is more gloomy and ominous, but this cover might be more likely to sweep you up in its momentum. Both are great on their own merits.
As good as the A-side is, the B-side is better. It’s not a stretch to say that “The Boy Who Destroyed the World” is an iconic punk song, almost certainly the highlight of the band’s entire career. It’s here that AFI’s gothic influences are most perfectly married with Bad Religion style melodic hardcore to achieve a singular sound. The track was included on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 soundtrack back in the day, so to answer your question, “yes bro, you can skate to it”. Closing out the record is the single, “Totalimmortal”. The slowest and least heavy song on the record (not that it’s especially slow or light), “Totalimmortal” is the most structurally varied track, and perhaps the best example on All Hallow’s E.P. that despite what happened to AFI’s sound over the years due to his influence, Jade Puget is leagues better than Mark Stopholese on the axe.
This is a tight, stacked 4 song EP. I’m going to write something that still feels weird after something like “Miss Murder” happens:
AFI is responsible for one of the all-time great punk EPs.
Video for “Totalimmortal”:
“The Boy Who Destroyed the World”: