ALBUM: Alexisonfire – Old Crows/Young Cardinals

Release Date: June 19th, 2009
Label: Vagrant Records


Canadian five-piece Alexisonfire hold a prominent place in the current post-hardcore scene. Their self-titled debut in 2002 was proof to everyone that this genre was more than enjoyable when done correctly and also set the bar high for the swarm of bands that were to follow. The quintet went onto release two more albums, ‘Watch Out!’ and ‘Crisis’, both of which were impressive and highlighted how the Canadians could reinvent their sound but still keep the structure and style that their fans loved. Their latest release ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ unfortunately does not stick to the band’s tradition.

Their fourth studio album seems to be lacking the originality that Alexisonfire‘s back catalogue had. Upon hearing the eleven tracks, it just feels like the band are trying too hard to appeal to as many people as possible – ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ sounds like all of their previous releases have been squashed into one. Songs such as ‘Emerald Street’ and ‘Accept Crime’ could quite easily be b-sides from 2006’s ‘Crisis’. Opening track ‘Old Crows’ is very similar to ‘Hey, It’s Your Funeral Mama’ off the band’s sophomore album ‘Watch Out!’ I mean okay, it’s nice to know the quintet remember what their previous albums sound like and what worked for them, but come on guys, you could have done better than this! ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ shows no signs of evolution – if anything it’s a step back for the band.

Okay, so negativity aside Alexisonfire have always been a strong group and a few tracks on this record prove that the five-piece are still capable of composing good, catchy songs. The first single off the album, ‘Young Cardinals’ is everything you would expect from the Canadians; shared vocals from Pettit, Green and Macneil, memorable guitars and a thundering dream beat, but it works – alright it may be about birds but that’s not gonna stop fans from liking it. Another highlight has to be ‘Heading For The Sun’, it’s probably the only song that shows hope of the band experimenting with their sound further in the future.

Truth be told, this greatly anticipated album is a bit of a disappointment with its lack of originality that is definitely capable from these boys. Alexisonfire are one of very few bands that have been willing to push the boundaries, and to see them shy away from this ritual is a little disheartening. Those unfamilair with the band and their work will undoubtedly be a lot happier with the record than fans of previous albums and is a good place to start, but sadly it seems the band themselves are walking back to the start too.

Written by Kate Rees