For Fans Of
“Old Crows / Young Cardinals” was a record which certainly surprised and polarised audiences, which saw Alexisonfire ditch the screamo label and venture into unfamiliar territory. “Dogs Blood” marks the bands first EP since four studio albums and is yet another significant progression in their sound, showing that this band is still full of surprises. A far cry from the melodies or the punk rock musings of “Old Crows / Young Cardinals”, this release is more comparable to the aggression of earlier material. Yet unlike on their early releases, clean vocalist Dallas Green is barely featured at all on this record, reflecting its far heavier and more hardcore-influenced style.
The title track “Dog’s Blood”, which opens the release, is a hard-hitting number. The vocals and riffs are intense, creating a real sense of passion and urgency. The backup vocals, which are the offering of guitarist Wade McNeil, are incredibly heavy and provide a much harder edge than usual to the band’s sound. “Dog’s Blood” ends with the closest thing Alexisonfire have ever done to a breakdown, a section of deep, discordant chugging contrasted with Dallas’ hitherto absent melodic vocals, capping off the track off perfectly. “Grey” is another long song, a brooding track which maintains the genuine sense of tension built up by “Dog’s Blood”. Slow, hard-hitting riffs moan on, while frontman George Petit belts out lyrics in his signature husky scream. The experimental, wailing guitars throughout the song add a great element to another great track.
The third song “Black As Jet” picks up the pace, beginning with a fast punky riff and Petit’s vitriolic vocals again setting the aggressive mood. The song proceeds into a powerful grungy riff which one would expect more from The Hope Conspiracy or recent Carpathian than from Alexisonfire. The final track “Vex” is an intense instrumental, which begins with a chilled out guitar and piano intro before transitioning into a soaring lead guitar line and epic percussion. This song encapsulates the truly experimental nature of this EP, which is less likely to signify the band’s future direction than to merely bring together some tracks which would otherwise go unreleased.
These are the darkest, longest and heaviest songs that this band has ever put out. In a lot of ways this release signals a nod to Alexisonfire’s musical influences, consolidating their punk and hardcore roots with the beautiful melodies that have come to characterise their sound. It’s hard to see that this sort of sound will be the future direction of Alexisonfire or make it to a studio album, but it’s certainly a refreshing change, especially for those who weren’t too fussed with “Old Crows / Young Cardinals”.
1. Dog’s Blood
3. Black As Jet