Review: Alexisonfire “Self-Titled”

CDAlexIsOnFire Bushman10 8

(Equal Vision)

Tricky guitar interplay and double vocals are the defining features here. And yeah, one vocalist screams harshly while the other counters with a more smoothed out yell. Anyone else notice that is the flavor de-jour lately? It’s getting so bad, people are going to start appreciating bands because, “Dude, they only have ONE singer, crazy huh?” But not Alexisonfire. And by the way, it’s “Alexis” that is on fire, not Alex. Of course, I got it wrong right away and looked stupid. Fuck you guys for messing with my head. But musically this hits somewhere between an edgy indie rock band, flirting with hardcore but aligning itself with the newer breed of erratic and spastic energy rock (Blood Brothers, The Bled) but coming off much more focused. And when they get all love stricken, it even holds credibility. “This is a .44 caliber love letter straight from my heart”. Hey, if you are gonna be a sap writing about love, at least do it like that. Some parts are extremely loud and erratic, some parts are soft and melodic. And with a flip of the switch, you might be tossed and torn back and forth between the two. There are two vocal modes happening here. The guy who can sing, and the guy who can’t. And since it’s the guy who can’t who gets the lions share of the vocal lines, it’s definitely a line drawn as far as the limits this band puts on itself and the fans it will attract. While having a ‘rawr rawr rasp rawr’ is an acceptable form of vocalist in these new school indie-emo-hardcore-erratic-rock hybrids, Alexisonfire could be that much more with two vocalists with range instead of one. When the music is obviously striving to push boundries, emotion, commitment to structure and dynamic, why cannot the same be expected from the all the vocals? You have all these musical dynamics sweeping you around and pushing you down and building you up… and this lone rasp of a vocal element that comes in pulls all the shine off the song. It brings in some good energy and that works for certain parts, but generally would have worked better if they let the other guy sing. But the music is damn solid, melding that heavy indie guitar rock with small bursts of hardcore tempered by the soft interludes that are always shattered by the end of the song. But as they say on their track “The Kennedy Curse”, and I quote, “Raaaawr raawwwp, rawwwar rarrwarr raaalp”.