Alexisonfire have become somewhat of a household name in the global punk scene, their explosive career taking off in the early 2000s with big hits like “44. Caliber Love Letter”, “Accidents” and “This Could Be Anywhere in the World”. Today, the Canadian post-hardcore quintet has released their fifth studio album Otherness – their first in 13 years – via Dine Alone Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia.
The 10-track project was produced and recorded by the band themselves with the help of longtime friend Matt Kelly in about a week. Featuring the singles “Sweet Dreams of Otherness”, “Reverse the Curse” and “Sans Soleil”, the album has themes of dejection, isolation and love – all byproducts of the COVID lifestyle. Apparently, the extensive break between albums was not intended. But as the age-old saying goes, art cannot be rushed, and what better time to make an album than when the whole world is on hold.
Vocalist/guitarist Dallas Green and guitarist/vocalist Wade MacNeil frequently exchanged ideas throughout the years and reuniting for a jam led to an abundance of quality material. With riffs and melodies from the vault finding a new purpose and their collective creativity running wild, Otherness was born. The result is AOF’s most progressive work to date and features the urgent delivery of interwoven harmonies we all know and love while keeping relevant with modern production techniques and subject matter.
Opening track “Committed to the Con” begins with repeated layered riffs and steady tom fills before frontman George Pettit spearheads the dreamy sequence with his raspy screams. “Sweet Dreams of Otherness” is a spacious garage-style hit with big drums and ringing guitars as Green’s wavering croon swims above the mix. Harrowingly beautiful track “Sans Soleil” tells a sad story of self-deprecation soundtracked by gorgeous harmonies over swirling strums and picked melodies.
The pace picks up for “Conditional Love” with an old-school AOF flair, Pettit taking the spotlight before a more mellow performance on “Blue Spade” with Green’s support on the huge chorus. “Dark Night of the Soul” opens with a gospel-influenced acapella then launches into a rocking verse of layered harsh vocals and piercing riffs over dynamic drums – there’s even a synth solo! “Mistaken Information” tones things down a bit with falsetto melodies and distant guitars (slides included) for an intimate effect.
You can’t be blamed for thinking you’ve somehow skipped to another artist when the synth into for “Survivor’s Guilt” starts, but the familiar chaos of an AOF track quickly ensues. Perhaps the most rock ‘n’ roll song on the record is “Reverse the Curse”, complete with wailing guitars, busy drums and call-and-response hooks. Finally, eight-minute closer “World Stops Turning” transitions from a soft acoustic passage to an epic wandering piece with soaring vocals, desperate screams and intricate guitar solos.
Otherness is Alexisonfire in their purest form, albeit evolved and more cohesive. From comfortably performing each other’s lyrics, to incorporating programmed elements, the legendary Canadians have made the 13-year wait between albums worth it.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Otherness is now available on all digital streaming platforms via Dine Alone Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia. Listen to it HERE.
You can read our interview with vocalist/guitarist Dallas Green HERE.