Review Summary: I mean in it's time it has fueled alot of upcoming acts but it still remains one of the most diversified epics I've been graced to listen too.
Alexisonfire’s self titled album is getting to be four years old now but I still remember it like anything else that has impacted my life with grace. I was in Tower Records when I was still in high school and I remember hearing about this band from one of my friends (actually on this site) but I didn’t really know what type of music to expect from them. The album was wrapped in it’s plastic packaging and featured a cardboard cutout case with it’s infamous catholic school girl stand off cover. I was immediately intrigued and interested by the artwork so I paid the fee and it’s something I’ll never forget. Years later, Alexisonfire has grown a fairly big fan base all over the world I’d say and I’m still grateful for being able to pick up there s/t album when I had the chance. Before they had all of the hype building up to them and perhaps before they changed in style. The reason I’m writing this review is because my opinion is almost totally opposite from the majority saying that each album they’ve become better but I believe that there first album was the best and I’m here to plead my case. Don’t get me wrong that I love the other two albums but I just don’t think it’s as up to par as this one, and some of the new songs are fairly mediocre compared to the ones on this release.
The way this album opened up really stole my heart. I keep in mind that back than on my first listen I wasn’t even really sure what type of music this was going to be so I really had an open mind (and ears). The first minute and a half for this song is all instrumental and it isn’t anything to be bored about. If you read many of my reviews you know I’m not so keen on a lot of band instrumentals but this is different. The dissonance from the guitars is beautiful trading off of each other as the bass slowly fills in and the drums falling into the background. The music is progressive and at the utmost embracing to the listener
. The vocals from the “screamer” George Pettit are different. On this album they are very abrasive and rough around the edges. His voice is just extremely rough and sharp around the corners. Dallas who fills in the songs with melodic vocals is extremely serene and one of my favorite voices for any contrasting band that does the scream;melodic vocal transitions. Almost instantly from the first song you could tell that there voices are going to work off of each others beautifully without feeling forced
. The song stays in my mind as one of the best introductions to an album I’ve ever heard and I can’t put my finger on it why but I can tell you that it does almost everything right to be different, unique, and intriguing.
“Counterparts and Number Them” continues the album on a faster pace with a crunchy guitar riff to open up the song. The song fills in with screaming vocals and transitions into melody during the pre-chorus and chorus. You never really lose the feeling of the screaming harshness but you feel the grasp of the softer vocals. One of my favorite lyrics is actually in this song that really sticks out in my head. “Because I’m softer than a thrift store sweater and twice as worn in/I was cast away once but I will be found again”. The outro of this song gets me every time with its quick octave tremolo picking and intensity. The song keeps the pace high and leaves the bar at the highest rung it could be at between the first two songs. “Adelleda” slows the pace up dramatically and is once again focused on an instrumental introduction. The atmospheric sounds of the bass and guitar has left me in awe. The musicianship isn’t overpowering with its attack but it’s bleeding with intensity of a different sound
. The song begins with the usual screaming and melody trade off. By this song Dallas Green’s melodic vocals are reminding me of a cross between the lead singer of Sparta and the lead singer of Emery. The song goes on some weird time changes from a really upbeat pace to slowing back all the way to how it was in the introduction. You can always feel the bass moving around in the background of this song and it’s a nice change to hear such diversity in musicianship. “A Dagger Through The Heart Of St. Angeles” is kind of like “Counterparts and Number Them”. The uproar of the drums in the introduction with the screaming will get you off your feet and then the guitars climax on it perfectly. This song is extremely strong and conquers over a lot of doubts that you could have about the band. A lot of time changes and everything from the loud;soft contrast. The style of Thursday like talking vocals during the interlude to fill into a high octane outro. “Directly through the heart of Saint Angeles”. “Polaroids of Polar Bears” starts off with a lot of ambience in guitar. The song is a lot of instrumental for the first minute or so but it feels not as refined as the other instrumental introductions. The distorted guitars clash away into a pop-punky feeling of a song with the screaming vocals but the song doesn’t feel as strong grasping as the other ones in the album.
“Water Wings (And other pool side fashion faux pas)” continues the album back on a ready, steady, go pace. This song will wrap you up and force you to listen to it because all of the vocals during this song seem to shine. The guitar parts are up to par and the song is fast and ready to kick you in the mouth if your not watching. All of the little fills and hooks in this song are deemed appropriate and take such a licking on my ears. “Where No One Knows” kind of reminds me a lot like the first track on this album. The introduction of this song is one of my favorite guitar parts to ever grace my ears. It reminds me a lot of “Fall of Troy” style and the screaming and melodic vocals are up to grace the song with icing on the cake
. The bass can be heard and always seems to be moving in the background and that brings a smile to my face. All of the parts of this song blend and mix perfectly and more than ever Dallas sounds like the lead singer from Sparta. Not exactly that bad of a thing.
“The Kennedy Curse” slows the album down once again in it’s intro. Don’t get fooled though because it speeds up fast into a nice little palm muted distorted riff. The vocals fill right behind that nice little riff that seems to fuel a lot of the song. It’s a little weird because the same riff getting repeated on this album seems to be an uncommon thing. It’s not an over abundance during this song but I noticed it a few times. “Jubella” is one of the shorter songs on the album and doesn’t feel so complete to me. It’s good for what it’s worth but it feels really rough on the construction and seems like a song that should have been worked on but never got the time in the studio.
“Little girls pointing and laughing” goes with a clean strummed guitar introduction. Already saying that is a little weird and the song is one of the more different on the albums. The melodic vocals take the spotlight and the screaming backs it up this time instead of vice versa. The song isn’t overly heavy but has a lot of edge to it and is very out to space. The guitar work throughout the whole album has been stellar but if there’s a song to showcase all of it make it be this one with a lot of quiet parts to recognize the musicianship. It’s such a beautiful song when its all over, and unlike the others which leaves a great taste in my mouth. When you have a song title that’s “Pulmonary Archery” you know it’s probably going to be good. I’m pretty sure this is one of there first singles and it’s the last song on the CD and probably one of my favorites. An epic introduction, a nice build up in tempo, and just plain rocking out. The song is even more mommentual to me since it is the last song and it will leave the listener with a good summary of the whole album. That being, amazing guitar work, great musicianship, a good balance in screaming and singing, and enough songs to not let you go bored. Wow.
Little Girls Pointing and Laughing
I’ve listened extensively to the other newer albums and hold true to the opinion that this is these guys best work. It comes knowing that whenever you get older, and progress, you’re going to have better vocals and better production value which the other albums do exhibit but it doesn’t always mean better songs. I like this band a lot, but I liked this band a lot with it’s crazy long introduction instrumentals, and when George was leading the way. It feels now the songs are a lot more watered down on the later albums and that there isn’t that equilibrium between scream;melody but nonetheless I won’t shoot these guys down for being stellar, because if you need to know… they are. Their sound is a direct collaboration of personal influences based on the love of music and the desire to play. They are diverse and really dignified in everything they do. I know that a lot of people like these guys for the music make but I also know a lot of people can appreciate and respect these guys for not liking the music they make, but for the musicians they are.
In my mind this album holds as high as I hold Hopesfall - The Satellite Years…
+ Amazing Musicianship
+ Unique Song Constructions
+ Dallas Green
+ A Raw Edge
- Questionable song discography.