by Brad Michelson
This is a .44 caliber love letter straight from my heart.
That is a line off Alexisonfire’s self-titled first release, which became the anthem for Canadian screamo. The 2002 album cre- ated a legion of die-hard fans and popularized the genre to teenagers across the country. Eight years and four records later, Alexisonfire fan- hood has split into two opposing churches — those who live by the first record, Alexisonfire, and those who prefer the newer material.
Alexisonfire’s music has made an obvious transition over their last two records. Fans were shocked to find their favourite post-hardcore band taking a step away from screaming and incorporating more singing and punk influences. A seemingly passive comment in an interview about “killing screamo” has only made the situation worse. It left fans feeling confused, aban- doned and frustrated with their beloved screamo kings.
“It’s not us trying to distance ourselves from screamo. It was just us growing as a band,” said Wade MacNeil, Alexisonfire’s lead guitar- ist. “We’re just interested in trying some new things. There are a lot of things we keep from record-to- record [and] there are things we always try to build on. It’s just us trying to get better.”
Alexisonfire have diverse musical influences. The artists they emulate are those with massive repertoires and varying, non-contant styles.
“When you’re a band that does that, you really risk alienating some people. I mean, we have, but I think at the same time a lot more people have come on-board, and I’m happy with that,” said MacNeil.
On Nov. 2, Alexisonfire released Dog’s Blood, a four-song collection offering products of the band’s experimentation. “Vex” is a B-side off Old Crows, Young Cardinals, the band’s last release, and the remain- ing three tracks were written for the EP.
“[‘Vex’] just didn’t fit into the context of our last record,” said
MacNeil. “We just wanted to write something kind of ambient, and that’s our song “Grey.” Then [we wanted] two songs to put on each side that were kind of loud and thrashy, and those are “Dog’s Blood” (the EP’s title track) and “Black as Jet”.’”
Dog’s Blood, a reference to the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums was released via digital download and three different editions of vinyl pressings: one is being sold on
their current Canadian tour, one on the band’s web-store, and the last through record stores around the country. All editions are limited to 2,000 copies per edition. This seems to fit Alexisonfire, as most of them are vinyl fans themselves.
“I have a really big collection, and so does George [Pettit, Alex- isonfire’s lead vocalist]. We’re the big vinyl collectors in the band,” said MacNeil. “It just forces you to listen to it. It’s not easy to play a
record and there’s something great about that.”
Alexisonfire choose not to look back and instead aim their sights forward to what is to come. Having already won multiple honours, including Juno Awards, CASBY Awards, MMVA and the XM Verge Awards, the band has established its musical prowess at the top of the Canadian music charts. Screamo or not, Alexisonfire are who they are, and they are damn proud.