After releasing Watch Out! in 2004, and having the album reach gold certification in Canada, how does a band manage to follow that up while keeping the intensity and their distinct sound intact? The answer is Crisis. Alexisonfire manages to keep the momentum flowing, producing a sound that’s intense, passionate, emotional and everything in between.
Longtime fans of bands often cringe at the thought of a lineup change or a change in dynamic. However, fans should be able to rest easy with Jordan Hastings behind the drum set, replacing former member Jesse Ingelevics. Hastings’ fills in “Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints” are truly infectious and make foot-tapping nearly inevitable. The intensity of his intro to “Malibox Arson” will never fail to leave your jaw slightly ajar. The combination of Hastings’ intense drumming style contrasting with Dallas Green’s soft voice in the contagious chorus makes “Mailbox Arson” a track to remember.
Guitarist/vocalist Wade MacNeil steps out of the shadows in “Boiled Frogs” to add to its emotion and intensity. The track is brilliant on many different levels, but among the most impressive is George Pettit’s ability to write lyrics that leave listeners with chills. “Boiled Frogs”, written about Pettit’s dad and how he was nearly cheated out of his pension, conveys the conflict between upper management and working man perfectly. The title in itself has deep poetic meaning, referring to the theory that frogs will not notice being burned alive if they’re put into a pot and the temperature is slowly raised. Pettit shouting “poor little tin man, still swinging his axe/even though his joints are filled with rust” is a brilliant reference that can resonate with any working man.
The track “You Burn First” features guest vocals from Planes Mistaken for Stars frontman Gared O’Donnell. Though it’s one of the few slower tracks on the album and provides a good contrast, the lyrics are a bit expired and cliché. The opening lines of “Cover me, if there’s a fire/’cause I want you to burn first” are enough to cause intensive listeners to tune out. The track has minimal lyrics that repeat twice, aiming to pose a higher emphasis on the words being spoken. However, Pettit is capable of writing much better than that.
The flow of the album quickly picks up after “You Burn First” with five more tracks that are very cohesive with the first portion of the album. “Crisis” truly brings out the best of each band member, producing a sound that can sum up Alexisonfire as a whole. There’s not a wasted word in the song. The shouting of “one nine seven seven” is in reference to the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977, which both the song and album art were inspired by.
With the album being Alexisonfire’s third studio release, the band seems to have their distinct sound figured out. Crisis is centered on exactly what you’d expect it to be centered on, and the raw passion coming from the members is evident in every track. Hearing Dallas Green sing the final chorus of “To a Friend” is all the evidence you really need to see the level of emotion put into each track. On a musical standpoint, Crisis is everything but a crisis.