Crisis. It’s a word that enters the minds of most loyal fans when there favourite bands are releasing a new record. Part of the fun of it is the anxious feeling that “what if it’s ***?!” It’s something that plagues the minds of fans up until release date, and people, most of the time, are right to be. But now, as apart of the internet revolution it seems, people are perhaps a little too quick to judge, and that could well be what, sadly, happens here. I’ve already heard fans of Alexis’s previous work saying “ooh they’ve sold out, they’re just commercial punk pop now” etc. But, Alexisonfire are too individual, too honest, too passionate of a band to let any of that be true. In fact, this could potentially be a classic.
The general sound of this album is that it is much more rhythmic than before – they’ve always been technical but now it is in an entirely different way – but it’s no way near as diverse as before. This album follows a far more single path than its predecessors and as a result feels a more complete album. But as this single path is essentially just melodic punk, some may find this hard to get to grips with. One of the main things to notice with this new sound though is that the drumming has been allowed to excel, and my, has it taken that opportunity. Some of Jordan Hastings’s fills and rhythms on this record are just jaw-dropping; this is the backbone of what makes this a really good, rewarding album.
The title track ‘Crisis’ (there’s that word again,) is an excellent example of Alexisonfire’s new style and sound. A fast driving rhythm section, mixed with a looping, tension filled guitar riff, all condensed into the handy size of a 3+ minute pop song that you can fit into your shirt pocket; Alexisonfire have definitely, “Still got it”.
What this album really seems to be all about though is “opposing, battling emotions”, and AOF’s portrayal of this is fascinating. The first half of the album is generally the more upbeat, ‘Boiled Frogs’ for instance with its infectious chorus is a fantastic exponent of this. Where as the second half concern the ‘darker’ feelings, most notably, ‘You Burn First’ which is probably their most brooding song yet, so much in fact that it’s almost mistakable as Alexisonfire. They’ve always had an edgy awareness to their music but it’s usually far more melodic, this however has a stranglehold on the listener and doesn’t let up till it’s over; and is probably the perfect example of how people are going to find it hard to overcome this album’s initial sound. But the wonderful lasting effect this record has is that you could put it on in pretty much any mood and take something enjoyable away from it. It’s great both for its poppy melodies and its dark undercurrents. And as it’s so rewarding, you shouldn’t let its initial sound put you off.
It’s not without its flaws though. Part of this is down to the dealing of vocals. Main vocalist and “screamer” George Pettit’s input seem to have been severed drastically. He’s still there, but not as much or as powerful as before; his vocals actually seem to have gone down in the mix from previous albums. Dallas Green as usual plays an absolute blinder here, his contribution is just fantastic. What is mostly noticeable though is that other guitarist and vocalist Wade MacNeil who almost steals the show here after not really featuring in ‘Watch Out!’ at all. On top of this though, a couple tracks are still a bit average, but at least fit better than some tracks from the previous albums.
But it is still brilliant, just very slow-burning, as all AOF records have been. It’s much more consistent than ‘Watch Out!’ but more mature than the self titled debut. Although I believe this album will split its audience, it seems they must be doing something right, because I feel like I should be disappointed with this record. Considering how “watered-down” this has been accused of, I feel I should hate it. But because of Alexisonfire’s individuality and genuine passion for what they do, this remains a fine record, and perhaps one that is needed right now. AOF have taken a massive risk here, they could potentially lose a lot of old fans but at the same time will gain a lot of new ones.
Once again this nerdy, fun loving yet emotional Canadian quintet have blown away any presumptions you could ever have, and it sounds like they are building up to something even bigger and better. For now though, crisis averted.
The screaming got better in my opinion. You can understand what he's saying. But I do agree I think he needs more screaming parts in the songs. I didn't think it was possible for Dallas to get better. Boy was I wrong. I love this album. Not sure of a rating yet. Good Review.
great review, and i agree with your rating, although i disagree with a few points. first of all, the first half of the album is hardly upbeat, mainly due to "this could be anywhere in the world" which, while brilliant, is depressing.
also, your point about the vocals was a off. their self titled was mostly screaming from george, the odd sung line from dallas, and next to nothing from wade. "watch out!" was mostly singing from dallas, the odd screamed line from george, and a few bits from wade here and there. this time, i think it's been almost split exactly three ways, and it works great!
yeah, I knew about Planes Mistaken For Stars vocalist doing that track. I was a bit distracted when I wrote it. Also grimbo, I said "Generally more" upbeat, not "totally". 'This Could Be Anywhere...' is indeed the exception to this.
otherwise thanks for all comments!
And everyone just keep listneing to this record, it's seriously grows and grows and grows.
Their first album was their only good one imo, after that they just lost whatever it was that was interesting about them.
Great review, the only thing I'd suggest is merging that small third paragraph another one, or making it larger.
well..i use to LOVE alexis...but this album isnt my favourite..i geuss im more into the rraw fast paced ridiculous sound of their self titled..ive been listening to it for 3 years and im still in love with it...but this new stuff.....too much dallas!!!they're going too mainstream..too soft..
I think its a great cd. Before this cd i was really turned off from screaming but sense i started listening to AOF iv really started to accept it and enjoy it a bit more. the main reason i like alexis is mainly because of Dallas. I listend to City and Colour first so i enjoy his signing alot.
I would have to say the 3 best songs on this album are " this could be anywhere in the world" "boiled frogs" and at the top "Rough Hands".
this cd is soo amazing what that guy said is right it does grow and grow on you ahhh it s amazing and that kid who said he thinks dallas green is and awful vocalist needs to die dallas is probably the best vocalist next to craig ownes
I found this album amazing. The rhythm is better, Wade's singing adds a whole new dimension, and the songs are better written without compromising their intensity or energy. I like the concept allot more then Watch Out’s, I find it more mature and less clichéd. When all three vocalists work together, nothing can stop Alexisonfire.