Alexisonfire have stepped away from the road they took with ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’, and have gone back to what they know best with ‘Dog’s Blood’. Although it’s unlikely that the band will ever revisit the raw aggression of ‘Alexisonfire’, their first album that signalled their impending stardom and put them on the map, ‘Dog’s Blood’ is as close as they have come to it again.
First track ‘Dog’s Blood’ instantly brings to mind the band’s past as it starts with a heavy guitar riff which is constant throughout and George Pettit‘s coarse vocals are more present than Dallas Green‘s admirable pipework, showing they’re reverting back to their old style. Pettit‘s vocals are a lot more effective than what they have been on their last two releases, and it’s pleasing to hear Alexisonfire treading old ground once again. Old ground that made so many people fall in love with them in the first place. Dallas‘ singing doesn’t emerge until halfway through the track, and as always the outcome is haunting. His and Pettit‘s vocals don’t combine until the end of the song and it brings to memory the best moments of ‘Watch Out’.
‘Grey’ isn’t as heavy as ‘Dog’s Blood’ and has more of a slower melody with the guitars wailing and squealing behind Pettit‘s barks and the pretty heavy percussion. Clean vocals don’t feature in this song at all, and perhaps itâ€™s a sign of things to come for Alexisonfire. Perhaps they’re adopting a new style of vocals. If they are then it’s certainly nice for a band to still be tweaking and experimenting with their sound, even though they’ve firmly established for years. The chords meander and penetrate the song and the highlight of the guitar-work is the tremendous solo. ‘Black As Jet’ starts off noisily, with all the instruments merging together to create an almost suffocating sound until Pettit‘s screams pierce through and maintain a frantic pace until the halfway point. This is when the actual music takes over, and until the end of the song it is ambient noise that ‘Black As Jet’ is all about, with an overpoweringly dark riff lurking in the background. The bassline steals the show though, and it’s a dirty, fuzzy bassline at that. The song reiterates Alexisonfire going back to their roots as its style is proper hardcore-punk.
Final song ‘Vex’ is an instrumental, and with it every chord rises and rises until a searing riff breaks through and bleeds away, only to be repeated again. It’s a crushing, epic song and is a statement of intent for the band. It’s a truly different song than anything they’ve done before and the experimental edge residing in this EP shines with this song.
Even though ‘Dog’s Blood’ allows Alexisonfire to show off a new sound, it may not sit right with all listeners. Some people will think it’s a triumph, while others will deem it a failure, depending on what kind of Alexisonfire they like the most. It gets better with each listen though, so people shouldn’t cast it aside too quickly. The experimentation and raw aggression proves that Alexisonfire are slinking back to the murky shadows that they first burst onto the scene with, and with time it may become a favourite addition to their discography.
Written by Rhys Milsom