Over a decade after their last full-length album, Canadian post-hardcore titans Alexisonfire are back with a new record. And when I say they’re back, I mean they are fucking back.
Their fifth studio album Otherness is a return to form after a good few years away from the Alexis machine. During that time, the five-piece have worked on other projects, careers and passions, which eventually brought them back around full circle with a wealth of confidence and life under their belts.
From cracking open the record and firmly reclaiming their place in the rotation with “Committed To The Con” through to emotional burners like “Mistaken Information”, the band’s experience and experimentation are offered up across the album’s 10 tracks.
At the core, every song on the new album is intrinsically Alexisonfire — a sound the band has never genuinely strayed from in their 21-year history. You could play something from Watch Out! back to back with a track from Otherness and while there’s a bit more polish and clarity there’s no doubt it’s the same collective.
The ferocity and flow the band has established through three vocalists — Dallas Green on soothing harmonies, Wade Macneil with his gruff punk barks and George Pettit on booming throats — has maintained throughout their long career. Even after a decade off they’re still able to lay down a bunch of tracks that make you want to flip your desk and kick through the wall.
The difference this time is in the way they’ve approached their craft. George told PEDESTRIAN.TV that instead of working independently, the band wrote tracks for each other and created possibly the most collaborative environment they’ve worked in so far.
“Alexisonfire was very much five horses pulling in five different directions,” he said.
“Whereas this time around we’re all moving in the same direction.”
George said it was Dallas who came to the table this time around. He suggested a refreshed way of creating as a collective instead of working on ideas independently before fleshing them out as a whole.
“The new approach was very open — every aspect of it,” he said.
“I think in the past there were elements where we’d work on things in our own separate corners and then we’d come together and we’d present it in the jam space. There was this sensation of ‘I have to do this myself’ whereas now it does feel more collaborative.
“Everyone’s engaged, everyone’s involved in what’s going on. I think we have a bit of know-how now that we didn’t before. It’s like ‘I think we know how to make a record now.'”
The three singles released ahead of Otherness — “Sweet Dreams Of Otherness”, “Reverse The Curse” and “Sans Soleil” — gave us a taste of the depth and breadth of the album.
Interestingly, “Reverse The Curse” was originally written to be “Young Cardinals” on their 2009 album Old Crows/Young Cardinals but was scrapped. Taking it back down off the shelf to rework it over a decade later is not something George thought they’d consider as a group.
“It just didn’t feel like us at the time,” he said.
“Then we just got to a point where we were capable of accepting those influences into the band and all those doors opened up, and it became obvious that we could just do whatever we wanted to do.
“There are lots of moments like that on the record.”
One such moment is on “Blue Spade” — a sludgey, doom-tinged romp that sees George stepping away from his biting screaming to cleanly sing out the verses.
Over on “Sans Soleil”, fans are finding similar energies to Crisis’ slow-burner track “Rough Hands”, which feels fitting for a song that’s essentially a masterclass in emotion-driven modern post-hardcore.
Where Crisis had “Rough Hands” and Watch Out! gave us “Happiness By The Kilowatt”, Otherness finds heart-wrenching, gut-punching emotion in “Sans Soleil”.
It’s undoubtedly up there with some of the band’s best work and doesn’t fail to squeeze the breath from my lungs with every listen.
Otherness proves that even after nearly 13 years away, Alexisonfire are still exploring and discovering pockets of newness and fresh energy. From floating highs to thrilling, fast-paced drops down the album’s rollercoaster, it’s a treat to have the only band ever back together.
With this album, Alexisonfire begin again.
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